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Pharmacist: Graduate Area of Work
Pharmacists dispense medicines and provide advice, as well as information about medications and their uses.
Pharmacists are healthcare experts who are responsible for supplying medicines in the most effective way possible. This profession uses applied medical science where pharmacists monitor the quality, safety and use of medicines.
It is also a career that requires a high level involvement and interaction with patients and the general public.
Healthcare professionals in this area of work may find themselves in the following roles:
- Hospital pharmacists
They are responsible for the ordering, quality testing, storing and securing drugs and medicines in hospital. In addition, they ensure that the supply of medicine in the hospital is adequate.
- Retail or community pharmacists
They supply prescribed and over-the-counter medicines in retail pharmacies for the general public. They also give advice on the safe use of medicines.
- Industrial pharmacists
They help discover safe and effective new drugs in pharmaceutical companies. They then develop the drugs into medicines and market the finished product for the public.
Typical employers for graduates in this area of work include pharmacy retail chains, hospitals, clinics, research facilities and pharmaceutical companies.
In their employment, pharmacists provide a range of services and are responsible for an array of tasks. This includes:
- Compounding and dispensing medications as prescribed by doctors and/or dentists. This will entail calculating, weighing, measuring and mixing ingredients.
- Reviewing prescriptions from doctors to ensure accuracy, to ascertain the needed ingredients, and to evaluate their suitability for patients.
- Assessing the identity, strength or purity of medications.
- Providing information advice about drugs, their side effects, correct dosage and proper storage.
- Working with other healthcare professionals to plan, monitor, review or evaluate the quality and effectiveness of drugs.
- Advising customers/general public on which medication brands, medical equipment, or healthcare supplies to choose.
- Ordering and purchasing pharmaceutical and medical supplies, or drugs, while maintaining stock and proper storing.
In terms of career development, pharmacists can opt to move into pharmacology to further specialise in a particular field of research (e.g. toxicology and neuroscience).
Hospital pharmacists can move up the ranks to a consultant level, whereas retail or community pharmacists can progress to opening their own chemist stores or into management positions in chemist chains.
On the other hand, industrial pharmacists can progress to the lab and project management level.
This profession requires graduates to face customers and other healthcare professionals while performing day-to-day tasks that require technical expertise. As such, employers look for candidates who are well-rounded with specific skillsets to perform the duties required of them.
Some of these skills include:
- Analytical skills
- Critical thinking skills
- Strong numerical skills
- Attention to detail
- Observation skills
- Problem solving skills
- Communication skills
Additionally, graduates in this field must have a strong knowledge of the legislation and professional codes of practice. It is also a career that involves life-long learning as professionals in this field must constantly keep up to date with new drugs and treatments in the market.
To be a practising pharmacist in Singapore, graduates must be licensed by the Singapore Pharmacy Council (SPC). Graduates must not only have a degree in pharmacy, but also fulfil a range of professional requirements, such as clinical trainings and assessments, in order to be recognised by the SPC. [CT1]
Pros and cons
This area of work demands life-long learning to keep up with the fast pace of change in the world of medicine and drugs, which can often pose a challenge to graduates in this field.
Moreover, pharmacists are required to be very attentive to detail, as committing a seemingly small mistake can lead to grave consequences, especially when it comes to administrating medicines. There is no doubt that the job comes with a lot of pressure.
However, it is a rewarding career knowing that you are making a direct impact in people’s lives by improving their health and wellbeing.