Home Articles Pharmacy Articles Pharmacist
Pharmacists are health professionals who practice
pharmacy. Pharmacists typically take an order for medicines
from a physician in the form of a medical prescription and dispense
the medication to the patient.
Pharmacists are also often small-business owners,
owning the pharmacy in which they practise. This unique dichotomy
is often the subject of debate within the profession - in part
due to the perception of pharmacists as "common shopkeepers"
by many in the community.
Pharmacists are often, incorrectly, referred
to as "chemists". This term is a historical one, since
pharmacists originally were required to complete an undergraduate
degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry (PhC) and were known as "Pharmaceutical
Chemists". This is, however, no longer appropriate and
may result in confusion with practitioners of the field of chemistry.
The basic requirement for pharmacists to be
considered for registration is an undergraduate or postgraduate
Pharmacy degree from a recognised university. In most countries
this involves a four-year course to attain a Bachelor of Pharmacy
In Britain, integration with the European Union
has resulted in the BPharm course being superseded by a four-year
course for the qualification Master of Pharmacy (MPharm). In
Australia, apart from the four-year BPharm course, there is
the option of a postgraduate 2-year MPharm course for those
with undergraduate science degree.
In the United States, pharmacists complete
a two-year pre-pharmacy undergraduate program. Following that,
the pharmacist will then complete a four year pharmacy program.
They will be awarded a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree upon
completion of the program. Then a pharmacist will complete an
optional post-graduate residency or otherwise enter into the
pharmacy practice of their choice, ex. hospital, compounding,
nuclear, hospice, community, retail, etc. In the United States,
people must pass the Naplex exam and an additional state exam
before they can acquire a license to practice pharmacy in that
state. It was created by the National Association of Boards
of Pharmacy® (NABP).
Pharmacists are trained in fields including
pharmacology, chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacy
practice (including drug interactions, medicine monitoring,
medication management), pharmaceutics, pharmacy law, physiology,
anatomy and biochemistry.
In order to practise as a pharmacist, the
person must be registered with the relevant statutory body,
which governs the registration and practice of pharmacy within
the territory of its jurisdiction. There is often a requirement
for the pharmacy graduate to have completed a certain number
of hours of experience in a pharmacy, under the supervision
of a registered pharmacist. The statutory body will usually
administer a written and oral examination to the prospective
pharmacist prior to registration.
In Great Britain, the Royal Pharmaceutical
Society of Great Britain is responsible for regulation of pharmacy
affairs. Graduates must complete one year of practical training
in a pharmacy prior to eligibility to sit the registration examination.
In the United States, a person must pass the
Naplex examination before they can practice pharmacy.
Pharmacists are often the first point-of-contact
for patients with health enquiries. This means that pharmacists
have large roles in the primary healthcare of patients.
These roles include, but are not limited to:
dispensing medicines on prescription
provision of non-prescription medicines
counselling and advice on optimal use
advice on common ailments
referral to other health professionals
general health advice
monitoring of treatment regimens
general health monitoring
reviewing medication regiments
clinical medication management
providing pharmaceutical care
Specialties exist within the pharmacy profession,
much as in the medical profession. The primary factor resulting
in specialisation is the place of occupation. Such specialities