What do pharmacists do? Pharmacists are experts in medicines and their use. Pharmacists have a unique knowledge of medicines from manufacture to their use in patients, spanning discovery, synthesis, formulation, manufacturing, quality assurance, distribution, therapeutics, and monitoring. Pharmacists provide healthcare in the high street, work in hospitals and GP practices and undertake medicines research in industry or universities. Pharmacists can now become prescribers, allowing them to care for patients’ drug-related needs following medical diagnosis. It is a very flexible career with opportunities for full and part-time working.
A high percentage of pharmacy graduates pursue a career in pharmacy as a profession.
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Where do they work?
Pharmacists work in supermarket and high street pharmacies, in hospitals and doctor’s surgeries, in the pharmaceutical industry and in universities. Pharmacists are increasingly involved in medical research
Types of Pharmacy Jobs
These work in high street, supermarket and rural pharmacies. They ensure that medicines ordered on prescription or bought over the counter are correctly and safely supplied. People skills are important as you build relationships with patients. As well as giving out prescriptions, you advise people on how to use medicines in safe and appropriate ways. Also involves financial management and responsibility for staff, premises and stock.
They are responsible for the purchase, manufacture, dispensing, quality testing and supply of all the medicines used in the hospital. They advise medical and nursing staff on the selection and appropriate use of medicines, and provide help and advice to patients in all aspects of their medicines. They provide information about potential side effects and ensure that new treatments are compatible with existing medication. In addition, they monitor the effects of treatment to ensure that it is safe and effective.
Primary care pharmacist
The role of the primary care pharmacist has emerged over the last ten years. They have a strategic role, making the best use of resources allocated for medicines and ensuring they are well spent. They also analyse medicines and work closely with hospitals, GPs, practice nurses and other community healthcare professionals.
Industrial pharmacists work alongside scientists in the pharmaceutical industry who specialise in other areas to discover new ways of combating disease and improving manufacturing and production techniques.
Regulatory pharmacists work for Government bodies such as the MHRA which protects public health. Their job is to ensure that medicines submitted by drug companies are safe before they can be manufactured and marketed to the public.
These spend on average around 60% of their time working in hospital, community or industrial pharmacy and the other 40% of the time as a pharmacy teacher or lecturer. They also research drug design and the provision of pharmacy services.
Pharmacists can be commissioned into the RAMC as Pharmacist officers either as direct entry qualified candidates or via sponsorship (see below). The Pharmacist is responsible for the timely distribution of drugs, dressings and medical equipment in general to all units in the theatre of operations. You must be 34 years or under, although pharmacists over 34 may be considered in exceptional circumstances. The Army can offer some sponsorships to selected undergraduate pharmacy student who would have a return of service of 6 years.
Veterinary pharmacists supplying a service to pet owners including treatments for cats and dogs for problems with worms and fleas. Pharmacists in rural settings supply medicines for farm livestock.
Other Science Careers
Pharmacy graduates can enter a wide range of other science careers outside pharmacy. For details of these including medicine, laboratory science, science teaching, medical sales, information technology, patent work, bioinformatics see www.kent.ac.uk/careers/ScienceJobs.htm
Careers Outside Science
Science graduates are attractive to many employers because of their personal transferable skills rather than the specific skills that they have gained during their degree course. These skills include the ability to analyse information in a logical way, numeracy and problem solving skills. Jobs using these skills include:
COMPUTING. A popular area for science graduates in recent years, partly due to the availability of postgraduate conversion courses, such as the one year MSc in Computer Science at Kent.
FINANCE employers in banking, insurance and accountancy are attracted to science graduates. Their are many traineeships available for new graduates irrespective of degree subject.
A chart of jobs that can be entered with any degree subject is at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/careermap.htm
Your pharmacy degree is the first step in your career as a pharmacist but your learning certainly does not finish with your degree.
You must pass your pre-registration year and examination so that you can register and practise as a pharmacist. Medway School of Pharmacy (and others) offers courses to help you successfully complete your pre-registration training.
If you decide on a career in hospital pharmacy you will be encouraged to register in accredited work-based programmes such as the Postgraduate (PG) Diploma in General Pharmacy Practice.
Those going into community pharmacy will need accreditation to provide certain enhanced services; increasingly these can provide you with academic credits such as Medway School of Pharmacy’s Skills for MURs programme which accredits pharmacists to provide medicines use review services and there are a variety of certificates, diplomas and MScs to help you develop your career.
You may also decide that you want to develop your research by undertaking a PhD. Grants are more easily available in the Sciences for postgraduate study than in the Arts or Social Sciences. It should be remembered though that research for a PhD will require dedication and determination to see things through over a period of 3 or more years: especially when experiments are not going right!.
If you are unsure which postgraduate courses would be most relevant to you, or want to discuss the implications of the different courses available, contact your tutor or arrange to speak to a careers adviser.