The most visible place you’ll encounter pharmacists is behind the counter of a pharmacy store, dispensing medicines and advising members of the public. However, pharmacy careers are in fact available in many different places, including research labs and academic institutions, hospitals and doctor’s surgeries, veterinary care, the armed forces, national regulatory bodies, and pharmaceutical companies. Popular pharmacy careers include:
Pharmacy careers in hospitals
If you work as a pharmacist based in a hospital, your role may include dispensing medicines which have been prescribed by doctors, advising patients on how to take the medicines and what to expect, and working alongside other healthcare professionals to suggest the most effective course of treatment. Hospital pharmacists are also responsible for purchasing and testing medicines kept in stock by the hospital.
Pharmacy careers in research
Research-based pharmacy careers are available in a range of different organizations, including universities, hospitals, clinical research centers and pharmaceutical companies. Major research fields include drug discovery and development, medical technologies, optimizing medical prescriptions and usage, risk minimization, and national healthcare policy and regulation.
Pharmacy careers in the community
As a pharmacist working in the community, you’ll be based in a local pharmacy (also called a “chemist” or “drugstore”) or in a community healthcare practice. Community pharmacists provide advice for members of the public on how to treat minor ailments, and distribute drugs available ‘over-the-counter’ or with a doctor’s prescription. They may also offer basic health checks or contribute to community programs designed to promote better health.
Pharmacy careers in legal compliance
If you like the idea of combining your scientific knowledge with legal and business skills, then maybe a career in legal compliance is suitable for you. As a regulatory affairs officer, you will strive to ensure the safety and efficacy of different types of drugs and medical products. Your role may include overseeing the licensing, marketing and legal compliance of pharmaceuticals. Your main goal will be to make sure that new and existing medical products meet legal and scientific requirements, contributing to public safety.
Within each of these pharmacy careers, there’s scope for career progression by taking on a managerial role, and/or by pursuing further expertise within a particular field of medicine. All pharmacy careers require pharmacists to continually update their knowledge of the latest research, products, discoveries and regulations; it’s common to undertake additional training courses at fairly regular intervals.