What does a Pharmacist do?

Learn all about Pharmacist duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Pharmacist.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 4 min read

A pharmacist is a health care professional who dispenses medication and provides advice on their proper use.

Pharmacist job duties include:

  • Compounding and dispensing medications prescribed by physicians and other health practitioners.
  • Checking prescriptions to ensure that there are no errors and that the directions for taking the medication are clear.
  • Providing patients with information about their medications, including how to take them, what side effects to expect, and when to call the doctor.
  • Maintaining records of patients' medications and allergies.
  • Ordering, storing, and keeping track of inventory for medications and supplies.
  • Supervising pharmacy technicians and other support staff.
  • Staying up-to-date on new drugs and developments in the field of pharmacy.
  • Participating in continuing education programs to keep abreast of new developments in the field.
  • Consulting with physicians and other health care providers on drug therapy issues.

Pharmacist Job Requirements

A pharmacist must have a degree from an accredited pharmacy program and must pass a state pharmacy board exam. Some states also require completion of a residency program. In addition to the academic requirements, pharmacists must also be licensed in the state in which they practice.

Pharmacist Skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Customer service orientation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge of medical terminology
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Record-keeping skills
  • Sales ability

Related: Top Pharmacist Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Pharmacist

A pharmacist is a healthcare professional who dispenses medication and provides advice on its proper use. A pharmacist must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited pharmacy school and a license to practice pharmacy.

The first step to becoming a pharmacist is completing a pre-pharmacy program at a college or university. Pre-pharmacy programs typically last 2-3 years and include coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and other sciences. After completing a pre-pharmacy program, students must take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) to be eligible for admission into pharmacy school.

Once admitted into pharmacy school, students will complete four years of academic and clinical training. During their first two years, students will take classes such as pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacy practice, and pharmacotherapy. In their third and fourth year, students will complete advanced courses and rotations in various settings such as hospitals, community pharmacies, and long-term care facilities. Upon graduation, students must pass two licensure exams, the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), to become licensed pharmacists.

After becoming licensed, pharmacists can pursue careers in a variety of settings such as community pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, managed care organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and government agencies. Many pharmacists also choose to specialize in areas such as nuclear pharmacy, pediatrics, oncology, or geriatrics. With experience and additional training, pharmacists can also become certified diabetes educators or immunizers.

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