Job Title: Pharmacist
Type of Company: I currently work as an RPh for a large teaching hospital.
Education: BA & BS
Previous Experience: I've worked as a supervising RPh in hospital settings for more than fifteen years. Before that, I was a branch infusion manager for a home infusion company.
Job Tasks: A majority of my responsibilities lie in the dispensing of oral, IV, injectable and compounded medications to patients. We are, in essence, a "closed pharmacy": that is, we service same-day discharge patients from our hospital and hospital employees, and we fill prescriptions written by hospital physicians. We operate under a federal grant which does not allow us to service anyone else.
A typical day is eight and a half hours long and is generally devoted to computer order entry, checking those entries and compounding medications that are not commercially available and that are either used topically or swallowed. We have a "robot" -- an automated medication dispenser -- that is used for frequently dispensed medications. The volume of the work we do is high, thanks to the size of our hospital which has roughly 5,000 employees and 600 beds. It is not unusual for a patient being discharged to need over ten prescriptions filled... ASAP.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the strong sense I always have of helping others by counseling them on medications and health matters that will steer them to a healthier lifestyle. The worst part is the stress; it is not unusual for me to not take a break all day long.
Job Tips: I would make sure that you are truly interested in the field. Unfortunately many individuals enter pharmacy for the wrong reasons. They're attracted by the salary and haven't really taken account of the responsibilities, liabilities, stress and schedule. If you're not "invested" in pharmacy to begin with, these factors only contribute to having very poor job satisfaction. The salary, though good, is rarely enough by itself.
Additional Thoughts: I was surprised how different pharmacists' jobs differ quite substantially and how RPh's are regarded. For example, in home infusion, pharmacists are considered experts in intravenous medications and are used by physicians and nurses as a source of information and guidance. Retail pharmacists are thought of by doctors as more of a nuisance than a help.
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