Pharmacy is the health profession that links the science of drug action in living systems with the use of medicine in patients. The goal of pharmacy is the development and use of medicine to cure, prevent, or ease the symptoms of disease. Pharmacists are the link between the science of pharmacy and the patient.
Pharmacists interpret prescriptions from physicians, then prepare and dispense the medications. They provide the physician and patients with information about the uses, effects and interactions of medicines. They also assist patients in choosing nonprescription medicines and health products, and they may counsel a patient to seek the advice and treatment of a physician, dentist, or other health practitioner.
Pharmacists who own or manage community pharmacies may sell non-health related merchandise, hire and supervise personnel, and oversee the general operation of the pharmacy. Some community pharmacists provide specialized services to help patients with conditions such as diabetes, asthma, smoking cessation, or high blood pressure. Some pharmacists are trained to administer vaccinations.
- Retail pharmacies
- Physician offices
- Pharmaceutical industry
- Colleges or universities
- Managed care organizations
- Federal government
Over half of all pharmacists work in a retail setting, most as salaried employees with a small number as self-employed owners. About one-fifth of pharmacists work in hospitals. Pharmacists may spend the majority of the work day on their feet. The work setting and work hours will vary depending on the type of facility and the hours of operation. Most pharmacists report working about 40 hours a week, although those who work in facilities with extended or continuous hours, may be required to work some nights, weekends or holidays.
Employment of pharmacists is expected to grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018, faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing numbers of middle-aged and elderly people, who use more prescription drugs than younger people, is one factor fueling demand. In addition, as more people obtain prescription drug coverage, and scientific advances lead to new drug products, the need for pharmacists will continue to grow. Pharmacists are also becoming more involved in patient care. As prescription drugs become more complex, and the potential for dangerous drug interactions grow, pharmacists will be needed to counsel patients on the proper use of medications, assist in drug selection and dosage, and monitor complex drug regimens.
- Ability to learn chemical properties and compounding of drugs
- Good science and verbal skill to read technical materials and advise others
- Good communication skills to educate patients
To enter a college of pharmacy, students must complete at least 60 credit hours (two years) or prerequisite study. Most professional programs in pharmacy require four additional years leading to a doctor of pharmacy, or Pharm.D. degree.
Pharmacists must be licensed to practice. In Nebraska, licensure is obtained through the Nebraska Board Pharmacy. To be licensed, a person must be 21 years of age, be a graduate of an accredited college or school of pharmacy, have completed an internship under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, and pass the licensure exam. Continuing education requirements must be met.
Programs in Nebraska
Related / Links
For more information on a career in pharmacy or accredited pharmacy programs:
- American Pharmacists Association
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
- American Society of Health System Pharmacists
- Nebraska Pharmacists Association
Career information adapted in part from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, Pharmacists, on the Internet at www.bls.gov