Pharmacists are health care specialists responsible for preparing and dispensing medications to patients. Pharmacists may also counsel and advise patients about treatment options or perform research. Pharmacists may specialize in preparing and dispensing particular types of medication, like cancer drugs.
Currently, there are about 295,620 pharmacists in the United States.
Students who want to become pharmacists must earn an undergraduate degree in a field of science, and go on to complete a 3 to 4-year year professional degree and earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.).
After earning a Pharm. D. degree, pharmacists can choose to complete a fellowship program in a subspecialty of pharmacy medicine. Fellowships programs usually last between 1 and 2 years. Pharmacists can complete fellowships in a number of different areas including:
- Critical care
- Ambulatory care
- Pediatric pharmacy
- Nuclear pharmacy
- Psychiatric pharmacy
- Cardiology and infectious disease
- Nutritional support
Pharmacists must be licensed to practice pharmacy medicine. Pharmacy students who have earned a Pharm. D. must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensing Exam (NAPLEX), a lengthy written test.
Pharmacists will also be required to pass an examination based on individual state laws. Some states will require pharmacists to pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE), and others will be required to take a state-sponsored exam.
Where Pharmacists Work
Pharmacists work in a variety of settings including hospitals and a variety of health care facilities, in community pharmacies, and in pharmaceutical companies in sales, marketing, or drug research and development.
How Pharmacists Help People
Pharmacists perform a variety of duties to help patients using prescription drug treatments. Pharmacists treat an immense amount of patients; about 3 in 5 American adults currently take a prescription drug. Pharmacists will dispense medications to patients and monitor patients' progress with the treatments. Pharmacists will also talk with patients and educate them about the best use of their medications and about other medication options, and may advise doctors about the best drug treatment plans for patients. Pharmacists can also help create drugs, and may advise pharmaceutical companies on the best chemical and biological composition for drugs and create standards for how patients should best use those drugs.
The most important duty pharmacists have is keeping patients safe while under the treatment of prescription drugs. Pharmacists do not diagnose patients or prescribe drugs, but they work to make sure that patients using prescription drugs are getting effective and safe treatment.
Pharmacists who work in drugstores and other pharmacy locations build prescription treatments for patients including counting pills and dosing medicine. Pharmacists will communicate with doctors and drug companies about the proper dosage and use of prescription medication for patients.
Pharmacists may also work directly with doctors and advise doctors about the best drug treatment options for their patients. Pharmacists must stay up to date on new drugs created and on studies about the effectiveness and use of drugs.
To make sure patients are getting the most out of their prescription treatments, pharmacists will advise patients on how to effectively use prescription drugs. For example, they will advise patients on blood pressure medications that certain common foods like grapefruit juice interact with and inhibit the medication. Pharmacists will also advise patients on other dangerous interactions a medication may have with other foods and medications.
Pharmacists also work to maintain patients' access to prescription drugs by communicating with insurance companies and by managing their own inventory stock of prescription drugs. They call insurance companies to verify benefits a patient will receive, and they make sure their pharmacy is stocked with the proper amount of medications.
The average salary of pharmacists is $108,267.
Medical Negligence and Pharmacists
Pharmacists are trained to work on all aspects of a prescription to make sure patients stay safe while using a drug treatment. Each year, millions of Americans suffer adverse effects of prescription drugs, and thousands of patients die due to incorrect drug prescriptions.
Malpractice can occur when pharmacists:
Make dosage errors
Pharmacists can cause serious harm to patients when they under or overfill prescriptions to patients, resulting in extra medical bills or drug overdoses.
Fill an incorrect prescription
Patients can suffer major health problems when pharmacists fail to follow physician orders and fill the wrong prescription. Pharmacists can also mix up patients or prescription orders and fill medications for the wrong patient.
Fail to advise patients
One of the most important duties of a pharmacist is to advise patients about their prescription treatments and to provide instructions about using drug treatments. Patients need to be warned about possible interactions with other drugs and foods, and about how and when to take the medication.
Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury while under the care of a pharmacist, you need to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. You may be eligible for compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian have a track record of success in defending victims of malpractice across Maryland. We will not charge any attorney fees until you get the compensation you deserve.
Call (800) 529-6162 today to begin your case and to learn more about your legal options.