Pharmacists play an important role in helping people get the best results from their medications.
Pharmacists are medication experts who enhance patient care and promote wellness. You will use your professional knowledge as a pharmacist to prepare and dispense prescriptions, ensure medicines and doses are correct, prevent harmful drug interactions, and counsel patients on the safe and appropriate use of their medications. As a pharmacist, you will have unique and specialized expertise about the composition of medicines, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties, as well as their manufacture and use. Other health care professionals will rely on you to select and administer medications that offer the best results and quality of life for a particular patient. As a pharmacist you may prepare personalized medications, participate in patient rounds at the hospital, reduce the spread of infections, conduct research or clinical trials, or focus on a specific patient population or disease state (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, asthma, HIV, and pain management). Be a pharmacist and help people live better, healthier lives!
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Pharmacists help people live healthier, better lives.
Daily Activities of Pharmacists
Pharmacists use their medication expertise to treat patients, collaborate with other health care professionals, promote population health, and manage pharmacy systems. Below are examples of common activities performed by pharmacists on a daily basis. Pharmacists who work in specialized practice or other settings may perform different or additional activities.
- Collect information about a patient’s health, social history, and medications including prescriptions, over the counter (OTC) medications, herbal products, and dietary supplements.
- Assess a patient’s health, medications, risk factors, health literacy, and access to medications and other care.
- Help patients to safely select OTC medications, herbal products, and dietary supplements.
- Develop a medication treatment plan in collaboration with other health care professionals, the patient, and caregivers.
- Prepare and dispense prescriptions, ensuring the medications and doses are accurate and safe.
- Identify and prevent harmful drug interactions with other medications, foods, vitamins, supplements, or health conditions.
- Educate patients and caregivers on the appropriate use of medications, side effects, dosages, proper medication storage, and drug-free treatments (e.g., exercise).
- Monitor a patient’s response to a medication treatment plan and recommend adjustments, as needed.
- Use point-of-care tests to assess a patient’s health status (e.g., tests for flu, strep, COVID-19).
- Administer immunizations for vaccine preventable conditions (e.g., flu shots).
- Provide wellness services, such as smoking cessation and blood pressure monitoring.
- Help patients to safely reduce or eliminate acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) pain, and minimize the risk of side effects, addiction, and overdose.
Medication Expertise and Population Health
- Use and share expertise about what the body does to a drug (pharmacokinetics*) and how drugs affect the body (pharmacodynamics*).
- Apply knowledge about how genes affect a person’s response to medications to develop and select drugs and doses that are tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup (pharmacogenomics*).
- Counsel other health professionals and stakeholders on a variety of medication matters.
- Develop policies regarding what medications, treatments, and products best serve the health interests of a patient population in a particular setting (e.g., hospital).
- Stay current on new medications on the market, related products (e.g., digital health devices), and changes to health care systems.
- Oversee or implement systems to prevent medication errors and improve patient outcomes.
- Order, monitor, interpret, and verify lab and test results for various health conditions.
- Promote the appropriate use of antibiotics to stop the spread of a disease in a patient or population (*antibiotic stewardship).
- Develop and maintain pharmacy procedures, protocols, inventories, and disaster response plans to ensure patients have access to the right medications at the right time.
- Identify the most affordable medication options based on a patient’ health care or insurance plan.
- Keep permanent records of all medication treatment plans to improve patient care over time, measure outcomes and workload, and fulfill documentation requirements for the pharmacy.
- Teach and supervise student pharmacists and pharmacy residents to enhance their knowledge, skills, and understanding of the profession.
- Supervise, train, and coordinate the activities of pharmacy technicians and other support staff.
* See the Pharmacy Glossary for a more detailed description of these terms.