The job description of a pharmacist can be divided into two main sections: hospital pharmacist job description and retail/community pharmacist description.
Job Description of Hospital Pharmacists:
• In charge of all the medications dispensed in the hospital.
• Experts in the use and safety of medications.
• Work alongside with physicians, nurses and other health care professionals.
• Give advices to doctors in determining the best possible treatment for specific diseases and ensure that the patients understand the medication and any side effects and/or drug interactions.
• Required to monitor side effects and the appropriateness of the treatment during the course of a patient’s treatment.
• Responsible for the direct supervision of all staff members working in a hospital pharmacy, including pharmacy technicians.
Job Description of Community Pharmacists:
• Has the same qualification as a hospital pharmacist and essentially does the same thing.
• Take in the prescription from the patient and follow the proper procedure in assessing the appropriateness of the medication in accordance to patient’s medical and medication history.
• Assisted by the pharmacy technician in preparing the correct amount of the prescribed medication.
• Final check of the prescription is done once more before the drug is given back to the patient.
• Accurately maintain confidential records of all patients.
You need to complete the undergraduate pharmacy prerequisites in order to get into the pharmacy school program that would be taken in a minimum of 2 to 3 years. Studies shows that most students who are in pharmacy schools have already obtained an undergraduate degree in Science. And also, at least 2/3 of US pharmacy schools require their students to write a test before acceptance: the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). You may visit the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy for more information regarding the PCAT.
The basic educational requirement that you would need to have if you would like to work as a pharmacist in the United States is the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree, also known as the Pharm.D. This degree requires completion of 4 years at an accredited college of pharmacy. As of 2012, there are 129 pharmacy schools in US. It is important that you review the requirements before you apply because different pharmacy schools in US have different admission requirements.
Training and Certification
Licensed pharmacists have no formal training before they are hired to their positions. However, during the course of the 4-year pharmacy program, students are required to complete a certain percentage of their study in real practice. In fact, the fourth year of the curriculum consists almost entirely of advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPE). Students are required to enroll in both retail and hospital pharmacies under the direct supervision of a preceptor (a licensed practicing pharmacist) and will gain practical experience through direct hands-on training.
Before all the pharmacists can practice in both retail and hospital pharmacies, they are required to have a license issued by the state pharmacy board. The candidate must first complete the 2-4 years of necessary undergraduate pharmacy prerequisite courses, 4 years of accredited pharmacy school, and the required internship hours before obtaining their license. Lastly, they have to write and pass another test called the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX), and in some states, the Multi-state Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MSPJE). A pharmacist needs to renew their license every year by completing accredited continuing education classes and other requirements prescribed by the state of licensure once the license is obtained.
Factors That Affects the Salary of Pharmacists
The single most important determining factor of a pharmacist’s salary is experience. A senior pharmacist with 20 years of experience will obviously have a higher wage then a pharmacist who just graduated. Managing pharmacist will also have a higher salary because of more responsibilities and extra workload. Education and certification, however, does not affect a pharmacist’s salary since both are mandatory for all practicing pharmacists. Generally, pharmacists working in retail tend to have a higher salary than the pharmacists in hospitals mainly because of the fact that retail pharmacies are largely owned by huge private corporations who pays very competitively.
Average Annual Pharmacist Salary
The average annual salary of a pharmacist is $112,160. This is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $84,490 and the top 10% makes over $144,090. Their average hourly salary is $53.92. The bottom 10% makes $40.62 while the top 10% makes $69.27.
Highest Paying Cities:
1. El Centro, CA: $163,410
2. Napa, CA: $140,230
3. Santa Cruz, CA: $140,220
4. Detroit, MI: $136,400
5. Chico, CA: $135,780
Highest Paying States:
1. Alaska: $125,330
2. Maine: $125,310
3. California: $122,800
4. Vermont: $122,490
5. Alabama: $119,810
States with Highest Employment Level:
3. New York