Job Title: Pharmacist
Type of Company: I work for a large retail pharmacy chain.
Education: BS, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy (Boston, MA)
Previous Experience: I worked in a retail pharmacy for four years before buying my own, which I then owned for 29 years.
Job Tasks: My chief responsibilities are to check all prescriptions to make sure the drug, the directions, the name of patient and the name of doctor are correct. If they aren't, I send them back for correction. I also check to make sure there are no dangerous interactions with other drugs the patient is taking.
Consultation is a big part of pharmacy. I advise people on how to take their medicines properly and what results they should expect. If the questions are not within my realm of expertise, I advise them to see a doctor. I suggest appropriate over-the-counter medications when I'm asked. I answer all calls from doctors and on occasion recommend medications and doses to them. Very often I have to ease patients' minds when they come in in an agitated state. Listening is very important.
Since pharmacy techs aid in dispensing prescriptions, I make sure that they do their important jobs properly.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is knowing that you are an important part of a health team. You are a professional and you wear that title proudly. You are held in high esteem by the public and you feel very valued. The pay scale is high, jobs are plentiful and the work is worthwhile. The worst parts are dealing with insurance companies, standing on your feet for long periods of time, having to eat while working, and the long hours. Occasionally, too, people who are sick are angry and unreasonable.
1. Start working in a pharmacy setting in a drugstore or hospital as soon as you think pharmacy might be your career.
2. Make sure you have an aptitude for science and math before pursuing this career and be aware that it takes six years to graduate from pharmacy school.
3. Cultivate your people skills so you will enjoy and become an asset to the profession. Make sure that you keep yourself drug-free so you will be able to practice honorably.
Additional Thoughts: Some people may think all a pharmacist does is count pills. How boring that would be! There's so much more to the profession. Each year, in order to keep up, you have to take a certain number of courses, passing tests in professional journals or taking seminars in person. It is a totally gratifying profession.
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