The main function of a pharmacist is to oversee the responsible and safe use of drugs by the public. As a pharmacist, you will focus on patients, working with them and their doctors to alter the doses and types of medication used until the desired results are achieved in a safe and effective way. You will help solve problems and cure disease through chemical means.
To do this, you will need to understand the chemical makeup of the drugs, how dosage affects outcomes, and the myriad of results drugs can produce within the body. As a pharmacist, you will strive for effective drug therapy for the patient. You’ll work one-on-one with patients, observing the effects of the medication and making changes as needed. You will also determine the right dose and dosing schedule for each drug, as well as the dosage form the medicine should take, such as whether the medicine should be a liquid or a capsule, ingested or injected. Pharmacists also play the role of educator, teaching the public about the benefits and drawbacks of drug use.
With a pharmacy degree, you can choose many different areas to practice. One of the most common (and most visible) is to work in a neighborhood retail pharmacy. A retail pharmacists distributes prescription medication, advises patients on their use and side-effects or drug interactions, and counsels on over-the-counter products.
Another option is to work in a hospital pharmacy, where you work with a team of healthcare professionals to give hospital patients the right medication at the right time and in the right dosage. In a hospital, you prepare medications for patients, including IV’s and chemotherapy drugs.
Another option would be working in the pharmaceutical industry, one of the fastest growing job sectors in the US. In this industry, you might be involved in research and development of new drugs, or quality control of existing medications. In addition to quality control, pharmacists may help with sales or drug regulation. You can also choose to step out of the pharmacy, and work for the Food and Drug Administration, or the Drug Enforcement Administration. Alternatively, you could pursue work in research, or pharmaceutical academia.
In whichever area you may choose to use your degree, pharmacy work can be fulfilling and rewarding.