If you’ve ever gotten a prescription filled before, you’ve interacted with a pharmacist. You also could have met with them in a hospital or long-term care setting. Maybe they’ve even given you a flu shot or checked your blood pressure. Pharmacists can do many tasks and work in many places! The pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are growing fields and being a pharmacist is a great career option for anyone who is a strong communicator and who enjoys science and math. If you’re looking for a healthcare career that can allow you to assist and educate people in achieving wellness, pharmacy could be an excellent fit for you
>Pharmacists work directly with patients to help them get healthy as fast as possible. They work with patients to identify and address anything, such as lifestyle or diet, that might impact their ability to take medications as prescribed. (This is why communication skills are so important for pharmacists!) As medication specialists who collaborate with patients and health care professionals, pharmacists can improve medication adherence and health outcomes, while decreasing medication mistakes, harmful effects, and costs.
Pharmacists can provide immunizations and be particularly valuable during natural disasters and epidemics. They can also help patients better manage medication for chronic diseases and provide important health services such as:
- Blood pressure monitoring
- Cholesterol screening
- Asthma care
- Smoking cessation consulting
- Bone density scans for osteoporosis screening
- Diabetes disease management
- Anticoagulation management
Pharmacists can work in a wide range of settings, including community or independent pharmacies, long-term care facilities, hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry, mail-order pharmacies, government agencies, academia, and even in patients’ homes.
Depending on your career path, your roles could include tasks such as
- Dispensing medication, instructing patients on how to take medicines, educating them on side effects, and checking for potential negative interactions between medications
- Working in a medical care team to determine effective medications and doses for hospital patients
- Managing medications and providing advice to care providers for nursing home patients
- Measuring and delivering the radioactive materials used in digital imaging
- Preparing intravenous medications for homebound patients
- Teaching clinical pharmacy courses and acting as a preceptor for student rotations
- Helping pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs
- Informing healthcare providers about new medications and facilitating clinical trials
- Supervising pharmacy managers, staff pharmacists, or pharmacy technicians within a retail chain
After earning your Doctor of Pharmacy, you may pursue a residency or advanced training that prepares you to more easily move between these different areas and take on many diverse, exciting, and rewarding jobs over the course of your career.
In May 2018, the median annual wage for pharmacists in the US was $124,170, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10% earned less than $87,420, and the highest 10% earned more than $159,410. In South Carolina and Georgia, where South University’s PharmD programs are located, pharmacists had average annual wages of $123,720 and $117,690, respectively by state. Of course, pharmacists are employed all over the country, with most Americans living within five miles of a pharmacy.
As for job growth, the BLS predicts that demand for pharmacists will grow about 6%between 2016 and 2026. This demand will be driven by several factors. First is the increasing number of prescriptions filled, due in part to the needs of our aging population. According to Statista.com, 4.13 billion prescriptions were filled in 2017 and that number may grow to 4.57 billion prescriptions filled annually by 2024. In addition to filling these prescriptions, pharmacists will be needed to assist elderly patients in navigating complex medication requirements and regimens, and assist them in finding ways to lower their prescription spending.
Additionally, as researchers continue developing new medicines, pharmacists will need to aid care providers and patients in understanding the differences between the medicines and determining which medicine is the best fit.