Pharmacists are responsible for working directly with patients, nurses and doctors to dispense prescription drugs, provide dosage instructions and may also take care of stocking duties at a retail pharmacy. If you're interested in pursuing a pharmacy career, you may have considered, what does a pharmacist do?

The standard pharmacist job description includes basic roles, duties and responsibilities that most hospitals, retail centers and pharmaceutical companies require of all their employees. Keep in mind that the pharmacist job description will vary by employer and the type of job you are applying for. Some jobs only involve dispensing drugs and advising patients, while others involve lab work and research projects.

What is a Pharmacist?

If you've ever wondered, "what is a pharmacist?", take some time to review educational and career requirements from major employers such as a hospital, clinic or research facility in your area. The primary responsibilities of a pharmacist are to dispense prescription medication and mix various compounds to make certain drugs as advised by the physician. Pharmacists are also responsible for telling patients how much of the drug they need to take, what the potential side effects are, and to educate the patient about the drug itself. They may also answer questions the patients have about dosage, and provide information on general health care topics.

Pharmacist Job Description: Education Requirements

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Pharmacists must have a doctorate degree from an accredited institution and pass a licensing exam in order to practice in their field. Most pharmacist degree programs take at least four years to complete, after undergraduate and graduate studies. Pharmacy degree students participate in clinicals, research projects and other activities to learn every aspect of drug therapy and prescription drug administration. Those who want to pursue a career in the research field typically take specialized courses and complete upper-level research projects during their final year of graduate studies.

What Does a Pharmacist Do?

Reviewing a pharmacist job description from major employers can help you learn more about what a pharmacist does and what types of roles and responsibilities they assume. Key responsibilities will be listed on the pharmacist job description and will vary by employer.

If you're interested in pursuing a pharmacy career, consider the following activities typically assigned to the staff pharmacist:

  • Serve patients by providing advice and information about health and medications
  • Help in arresting or slowing down the progression of disease
  • Dispense medication that will eliminate or reduce symptoms
  • Assist in diagnosing a disease or ailment
  • Answer patient questions
  • Monitor prescribed and over-the-counter drugs or supplements a patient is taking
  • Continue their education in medical breakthroughs and innovations in the medical field
  • Communicate with the general public about medicine and drug administration
  • Assist in organizing clinical trials of certain drugs from pharmaceutical companies
  • Maintain an accurate inventory of drugs and chemicals
  • Monitor drug interactions and prepares appropriate reports
  • Participate in legislative actions that support patient and consumer health

Many skills and requirements to fulfill a pharmacist job description are learned during clinical training and fellowships. Some employers also offer on-the-job training so that pharmacists can learn how to use specialized software equipment, medical equipment and learn key procedures required to perform well at their job.