Not only do pharmacists fill orders in a hospital, but many also have an active role in patient care alongside a physician. These pharmacists may participate in rounds and collaborate with physicians about the most appropriate treatment options for hospital residents. Some of the different hospitals or facilities in which pharmacists may work include long-term care and hospice facilities and psychiatric wards. Pharmacists may also play roles in the different departments within a general hospital.
Ambulatory care pharmacists typically work in clinics that provide patient care. A lot of these pharmacists participate in Coumadin clinic and make recommendations on Coumadin doses based on INR levels.
Pharmacogenomics is the study of a patient's response to drug therapy based on that individual's genetic profile. There are some companies out there that have pharmacists making drug recommendations to physicians based on the pharmacogenetic profile of a patient's metabolizing enzymes. It's sort of like a pharmacogenetic medication therapy management.
Medication Therapy Management (MTM)
There are many opportunities within this aspect of pharmacy. Retail pharmacies are now starting to offer this service. There are also companies that offer work-from-home opportunities. What's also unique about this particular side of pharmacy practice is the opportunity to create one's own MTM business.
Drug safety--or the collection, monitoring, and prevention of adverse effects of medications and other pharmaceutical products--is an important issue and another avenue that pharmacists can take. Adverse drug reactions are often collected during clinical trials.
Pharmacy Benefits Management (PBM)
Pharmacists can work for insurance companies and participate in pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committee meetings in this line of work. During P&T committee meetings, medication formulary issues are brought up and assessed. Additionally, PBMs can work to resolve prior authorizations and make determinations as to whether or not a certain drug should be covered for insurance members.
Pharmacists can work in call centers at insurance firms or other types of companies. For example, some insurance companies hire pharmacists to review and talk to members about their medications and consult for drug interactions or concerns. In addition, there is the Poison Control Center or places that provide drug information.
As mentioned above, there are drug information pharmacists that provide information to both consumers and other health care professionals in a call center-like environment. Some drug information pharmacists may work for drug companies and provide information about the company's products, or some may work in hospitals and serve as a resource for patients and providers.
Many pharmacists are involved in the process of the development of experimental medications. Many clinical research pharmacists start this unique career path with post-graduate fellowships. The responsibilities that clinical research pharmacists inherit consists of writing protocols, monitoring clinical trials, collecting and analyzing trial data, reporting adverse events, and publishing clinical study reports.
Nuclear pharmacists handle radioactive materials that are used for diagnoses or therapy. One such drug is known as Technitium-99m, which is used in diagnostic procedures. Nuclear pharmacy has more regulations and safety guidelines than other pharmacy career, as nuclear pharmacists deal with dangerous radioactive products.
Many pharmacists, especially those with post-graduate residency training, may delve into the academic sector of pharmacy by becoming pharmacy school professors or preceptors. Even schools that offer pharmacy technician certificate programs are looking for pharmacists or certified pharmacy technicians to teach classes.
Work-from-home/remote order entry
Some hospitals allow pharmacists to do remote order entry either from home or from other centralized locations. Also, many pharmacists have the option to do MTMs from home via phone.
Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
CDEs must pass a certificate program specific to teaching diabetic patients about how to manage the disease. These health professionals may educate patients either through presentation or one-on-one interaction.
Medical writing is another great career option for pharmacists. Some ways that pharmacists can attribute their writing skills include writing CEs or scripts for CE presentations, writing about health topics for magazines or eZines, or publishing manuscripts and other materials for clinical research projects.
Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner (CPP)
Certain states, such as North Carolina, offer this career option for pharmacists. There are certain criteria that one must possess or comply with in order to become a CPP. Some of the activities that set CPPs apart from other pharmacists are the ability to see patients and prescribe under the supervision of a medical doctor, much like physician's assistants or family nurse practitioners. In order for CPPs to practice in this field, there must be a treatment protocol in place for each disease state that they plan on treating.
So, when a friend or family member asks, "What else do pharmacists do besides fill prescriptions at a pharmacy," you can let them know that there is a plethora of career options and disciplines within the field of pharmacy.
Are there any other pharmacy sectors that I had left out? What pharmacy career path did you choose, and why?
Thora Brown, PharmD
Thora Brown, PharmD, is a pharmacist in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. She graduated from Campbell University School of Pharmacy in 2009. After graduating, Dr. Brown started her career in retail pharmacy. She now has a more diverse pharmacy background, which includes ambulatory care and pharmacogenomics. She has also worked as a Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner in North Carolina and founded and operated her own medication therapy management (MTM) company while residing in North Carolina. Dr. Brown currently works as a Clinical Medication Therapy Management Pharmacist for an MTM company whose clients are Medicare Part D receipients.