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Pharmacist (hospital)

Dispenses medicines and provides advice and information to medical and nursing staff on their use.

Pharmacists dispense drugs prescribed by doctors and other health professionals and provide information to patients about medications and their use. It is a challenging and rewarding profession that demands life-long learning to keep up with the fast pace of change in the world of medicine.

    Alternative job titles for this role

    • Clinical pharmacist
    • Hospital pharmacist
    • Pharmacologist

    Introduction

    Pharmacists are healthcare professionals responsible for supplying medicines in the most economical and effective way possible. It is an applied medical science with pharmacists constantly monitoring the quality, safety and the use of medicines, requiring a high level of involvement and interaction with patients. It is a career that involves life-long learning as pharmacists must also keep up to date with new drugs and treatments. They need to have a strong knowledge of legislation and professional codes of practice. There are three main areas of work for the modern pharmacist: working closely with doctors, hospital pharmacists are responsible for the ordering, quality testing, storing and security of drugs and medicines in hospitals. They must also ensure an adequate supply of medicine. Retail or community pharmacists supply prescribed and over-the-counter medicines to the general public in a retail pharmacy (such as a local chemist), giving advice to customers on the safe use of medicines and possible side effects. Industrial pharmacists work in pharmaceutical companies where they help to discover safe and effective new drugs, develop them into effective medicines, and market the finished product to customers.

    What the job involves

    • Compound and dispense medications as prescribed by doctors and dentists, by calculating, weighing, measuring, and mixing ingredients
    • Review prescriptions from doctors to ensure accuracy, to ascertain the needed ingredients, and to evaluate their suitability for the patient
    • Provide information and advice about drugs, their side effects, correct dosage, and proper storage
    • Keep records such as pharmacy files, patient profiles, charge system files, inventories, registries of poisons, narcotics or controlled drugs
    • Plan, implement, or maintain procedures for mixing, packaging, or labelling pharmaceuticals, according to policy and legal requirements, to ensure quality, security and proper disposal
    • Assess the identity, strength, or purity of medications
    • Work with other health care professionals to plan, monitor, review, or evaluate the quality or effectiveness of drugs
    • Order and purchase pharmaceutical supplies, medical supplies, or drugs, maintaining stock and storing and handling it properly
    • Analyse prescribing trends to monitor patient compliance and to prevent excessive usage or harmful interactions
    • Advise customers on the selection of medication brands, medical equipment, or healthcare supplies
    • How your career can develop

      Pharmacists can move into pharmacology to specialise in a particular field of research such as toxicology and neuroscience. Hospital pharmacists can progress to consultant level. Retail or community pharmacists can progress to own their own chemist shop or into management positions in chemist chains. Industrial pharmacists can aspire to lab and project management level.

      Why pharmacists matter

      Recent surveys have shown the pharmacists are taking a more active role in healthcare. Pharmacists are medical professionals and the public are increasingly turning to them as the first port of call for advice.

      Skills

      • Analytical skills
      • Ability to think critically
      • Strong numerical skills
      • Attention to detail
      • Problem solving skills
      • Observation skills
      • Communication and social skills

      Typical employers

      • Self-employed
      • Pharmacy retail chain
      • Hospitals
      • Clinics
      • Medical trials
      • Research facility
      • Pharmaceutical companies

      Typical salary

      • Graduate/Starting €31,000 to €40,000 after 3 years
      • Senior/Principal €50,000 to €100,000 after 10 years

      Typical qualifications

      The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland accredited 5-year programmes in Ireland consist of a 4-year bachelor’s degree programme in a school of pharmacy, followed by a 1-year internship programme, resulting in a level 9 master’s degree. After completion of the Leaving Certificate, students may apply to study a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical science, or might first take a PLC route, studying a general science course before going on to a bachelor’s degree.