What is Pharmacy? What does a Pharmacist do? Pharmacy is the “science or practice of the preparation and dispensing of medicinal drugs.” It combines health and chemical sciences Pharmacists dispense medications, talk to patients about them, and recalibrate medications and dosages, advise physicians about medication therapy, and much more.
They might offer health and wellness screenings, immunizations, and offer advice on how patients can improve their lifestyles. Pharmacists may need to be involved with how medications interact with patients’ diets and lifestyles, and essentially form an evolving relationship with physicians and patients to better tailor medication to their needs and experiences. Have you ever been looking up the Rite Aid Pharmacy hours and thought to yourself, I should be a Pharmacist? If you want to work directly with patients and deliver them medication that can literally keep them alive, give them increased functionality and allow them to fulfill their potential, this might be the work for you.
Not every Pharmacist works in a chain like Rite Aid or CVS. Approximately 45% do work in independent or retail chain community pharmacies, but over half the Pharmacists work in environments that include hospitals, nursing homes, managed care organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, school and for federal, state or local government. Pharmacists also work in many leadership positions throughout the healthcare system.
Working as a Pharmacist is considered a great way to gain steady employment. There are approximately 321,500 Pharmacists according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and BLS expects a 6% growth in the field between 2016-26, which is faster growth than average. That translates to an increase of 17,600 jobs.
This doesn’t fully take into account the increasing demand for prescription drugs, the constant creation of new drugs, and how that impacts the future of the field. According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the number of prescriptions filled went from 1.9 million in 1992 to 3.9 billion prescriptions in 2013, and in 2015, 4.1 billion prescriptions were filled (and it’s expected to be up to 4.7 billion in 2021).
Also adding to the demand for Pharmacists is an exponentially growing elderly population. The U.S. Census Bureau has found that 1 in 5 Americans will be classified as elderly by 2050. BLS also found the 2016 median pay for Pharmacists was $122,230 annually— or $58.77 per hour. But how much do Pharmacists really make?
The answer depends on many factors, and a major one is their location. Fortunately, Pharmacy licensure is typically reciprocal between states (although it would behoove you to get your license in the state you want to work, because switching to another state may require additional tests or other criteria to be met). However, as with most jobs, some states are better to work in than others, especially when it comes to your salary.
Thes following are the top 5 cities associated with high salaries in Pharmaceutical work, according to Payscale.
Best Places to Work As A Pharmacist
San Francisco, California
Los Angeles, California
U.S. News and World Report Best Pharmacy Program
The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and University of Minnesota were ranked first and second respectively in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report ranking. They were followed by a three-way tie for third by University of California-San Francisco, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Texas-Austin, then Ohio State University, University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Kentucky, Purdue University and University of Florida round out the top ten.
Pharmacist Career Paths
Common paths include:
- Retail Pharmacy: Working at a drug or grocery store dispensing medications. May require long hours and weekend work that’s dependent on the store’s schedule. However, many of these Pharmacy counters are open 24/7, so expect a difficult schedule.
- Clinical Pharmacy: In these positions, you’ll work in a hospital on a medical care team. You’ll check on patients with a doctor and help decide which medications and doses would be most useful on a case by case basis in conjunction with your team.
- Long-Term Care: Here you’ll work in a facility where elderly people or those permanently in need of supervision and medication live. These are sometimes called “closed door” Pharmacist positions because there’s less interaction with patients. Pharmacists in these roles often make decisions on medication that nurses or other staff take charge of fulfilling.
- Nuclear Pharmacy: In these roles, you’ll measure and/or deliver radioactive materials that are used in digital imaging (MRI, CT, etc..) and other procedures in medical offices and hospitals. It requires an early start to the day, as the radioactive materials have to be used only a few hours after they’ve been delivered, and are often delivered first thing in the morning or pre-dawn.
- Home Infusion and Chemotherapy: Here you’re responsible for properly mixing and administering chemotherapy drugs used to heal cancer patients. While working this close with people battling cancer may be difficult for some, it’s a very tangible way to help people that desperately need these treatments to extend or save their lives.
- Pharmaceutical Benefit Management: Working for a corporation that negotiates between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare insurance companies over coverage and reimbursement of the drugs and their costs through various health plans.
- Contract or Temporary Pharmacy: Providing maximum scheduling flexibility, you’ll work on a shift or as-needed basis
Pharmacist Salary in Alabama
Pharmacist Salary in Alaska
Pharmacist Salary in Arizona