Pharmacist Careers

The curriculum being taught at many pharmacy schools in recent years have evolved to include many new electives and even core courses within the PharmD program that may differ from what pharmacy courses offered traditionally decades ago. This obviously began with switch from a Bachelors in Pharmacy degree to a Doctorate in Pharmacy. However, even with the change to the PharmD path, there are continually changing courses that are shaping the modern day pharmacy schools. These adjustments allow prospective pharmacy students with new opportunities not often found from previous graduates. What most consider the traditional path after obtaining a PharmD as working in a hospital or a corner drugstore, fledgling pharmacy students may wonder what careers options they are being prepared for rooted in the curriculum being taught at many of today’s innovative PharmD programs. Below are some interesting careers for new pharmacy grads to look into.

Nuclear Pharmacists: Pharmacists who are specialty trained in the area of radiopharmaceuticals. These pharmacists have to undergo additional schooling and examinations once employed by a nuclear pharmacy organization. Many companies usually sponsor their employees to pursue the required licensing or certifications required to be a competent nuclear pharmacist.

Information Systems Pharmacist: Pharmacists who are technologically savvy and enjoy the backend computer information technology systems that run behind the scenes within many inpatient and outpatient pharmacy settings. These pharmacists configure medication labels, add/change/modify medications within the pharmacy information systems, reconcile billing of medications, design pharmacy administrative and clinical reports, configure medication safety decision support system rules, manage automatic dispensing cabinet settings and interfaces with the pharmacy information systems, manage pharmacy robots, and collaborate with the institution’s information technology and clinical informatics departments in order to target many diverse technical issues that occur frequently in hospital settings.

Pharmacy Management: Pharmacists with inherent leadership qualities, or those who enjoy and are competent in leading the pharmacy department team with the goal of maximizing pharmacy operation efficiency, reducing costs, and safeguarding patients and consumers could pursue a management track. Needless to say, this is a huge responsibility with many stakeholders in the community in which the hospital serves, and those pursuing this path should develop their skills in effective leadership and management with courses or degrees that develop their skill. Therefore, many pharmacy schools are providing dual degree tracks that couple a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with the Doctor of Pharmacy program. The MBA will better equip these future leaders with the knowledge and education required to lead and manage a pharmacy department. Positions in management include pharmacy directors, pharmacy supervisors, pharmacy assistance directors, pharmacy managers, etc.

Consultant Pharmacist: Consultant pharmacists are usually very knowledgeable in a specific area of pharmacy. Such pharmacists could include those that are well seasoned in clinical pharmacy practice, pharmacology, pharmacy management, or specialty pharmacies (nuclear, compounding, etc). Many consultant pharmacists hold other degrees or certifications such as a Masters in Science degree (MS), Doctor in Philosophy (PhD), various Board of Pharmacy Specialties certification, etc.

Drug Representative:   Who better to disseminate accurate clinical information about pharmaceuticals than PharmD’s?  Drug representatives have a certain stigma associated with them, probably due to the public’s suspicions of big pharma’s influence on the practices of prescribers.  Many prescribers themselves are wary and distrusting of drug representatives, especially those without a background in clinical education who are not qualified to understand the complexities of clinical practice, and who proclaim the omnipotent benefits of their products in order to push sales and meet their quota for the given sales district.  However, pharmacists have reputable qualifications to best discuss and present the information of pharmaceuticals, and could intelligently answer  the difficult questions effectively posed by medical doctors with supported evidence-based medicine.  A PharmD education could help compete for the position of a drug representative, in addition to the amicable personality and customer service experience that are usually required in this industry.

Pharmacoeconomics Analyst:  Pharmacists who are interested in the workings of economic factors related to pharmaceuticals could pursue positions in pharmacoeconomics.  Many pharmacy schools offer optional electives which may include one or two courses of study.  Fellowships post graduation is a good route to follow to better engage in projects directly related to the field.  Many of these professionals work in pharmaceutical and insurance companies to research and analyze supply and demand of medications, government and private insurance reimbursements, costs of medications, and more.


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