Pharmacies are often overlooked components of the healthcare system, but they are critical partners in ensuring patient health. If you want a lucrative healthcare career but want to avoid the blood and guts associated with working in medicine, you might consider finding a job in a pharmacy.
Of course, like any other healthcare space, pharmacies offer tiers of different types of workers, organized based on training and responsibility. Here is a look at the various jobs available within a pharmacy, so you can get started on your pharmacy career journey today.
A pharmacy clerk is most often tasked with assisting customers with basic needs, such as helping them find over-the-counter medications or checking them out once they have received their medications. This is the lowest level of worker within a pharmacy and has virtually no mandatory qualifications.
In contrast to a pharmacy clerk, a pharmacy dispenser works almost entirely behind-the-scenes. Once a pharmacy receives a prescription for a patient, a dispenser will venture into their inventory space to retrieve the correct medicine and devices and place them in the properly labeled containers for pickup. Dispensers may also be involved in inventory management, to ensure that the pharmacy is supplied with everything it needs to serve its clientele.
Pharmacy assistants primarily provide administrative support to a pharmacy. Though assistants may assume some clerk and customer service duties, they are usually tasked with managing a pharmacy’s files and reports, ensuring that patient information is efficiently and securely stored and that other pharmacy staff have the tools they need to do their jobs properly. Assistants may also support pharmacy management in overseeing compliance requirements, training staff and keeping the premises clean.
Working directly under a pharmacist, a pharmacy technician boasts many of the same responsibilities: ordering medications, filling patient prescriptions, verifying dosages, recognizing potential contraindications and consulting with patients to provide additional information for health and wellness. While none of the above pharmacy positions require extra education or certification, pharmacy technicians should prepare for this role with online courses from Ultimate Medical.
Pharmacists are healthcare providers who have a deep knowledge of medications and can legally dispense medical care and advice. Pharmacists must earn a degree from an accredited pharmacy school, which usually requires about five years of full-time study, and pharmacists must update their licenses with regular engagement with continuing education. Because pharmacists hold the certificate that allows a pharmacy to operate, they are primarily responsible for the activities of their team. As a result, they often assume administrative and management duties alongside regular pharmacy tasks.
Just as there are specialty doctors, there are pharmacists who specialize in a distinct field of medicine. Some examples include:
Chemotherapy pharmacists, who prepare and dispense chemotherapy to patients with cancer, blood disorders or certain autoimmune diseases
Nuclear pharmacists, who prepare and dispense radiopharmaceuticals, which are popularly called radiation
Long-term care pharmacists, who specialize in medicine required by patients who must remain within long-term care facilities
Pharmacy managers assume responsibility for the daily operation of the pharmacy. Usually, these professionals are more likely to have experience and education in business administration than in pharmaceutical sciences, though some pharmacists due pursue management positions if they provide better pay and other benefits. Pharmacy managers should expect to develop and maintain systems for patient information, inventory management, staff training and more, and they need to ensure that their facility remains compliant with all relevant regulations.
This position is generally only available in broader healthcare settings, like hospitals, where a large pharmacy department requires broad oversight of its operations and management. A director of pharmacy has many of the same responsibilities as a pharmacy manager but at a much more significant scale. Pharmacy directors will almost certainly work alongside other high-level healthcare administrators, developing strategies for efficiency and success.
While other members of a pharmacy team tend to work in and around the pharmacy itself, pharmacologists tend to operate in laboratory settings alongside research scientists in the development of new medications. To work as a pharmacologist, one must pursue at least a master’s degree, though many in the field continue in their advanced education to the doctoral level.
Pharmacies are complex healthcare environments, and there are many vital members of a pharmacy team. If you want to contribute to healthcare in a meaningful way, you might consider finding one of the above jobs in a pharmacy today.