On the Job
Pharmacists dispense drugs and provide information about their use.
According to folklore, the symbol "Rx" is a variation of the ancient symbol for the Roman god Jupiter. Apparently, the symbol was used to pray for the treatment to be effective. Others believe that the symbol is derived from the "Eye of Horus," which is a symbol made up of an eye and an X beneath it. Horus was an Egyptian god who is called the "father of pharmacy." Still others believe that Rx is little more than the abbreviation for the Latin word for recipe. Regardless of its origins, the chances are good that you've already filled an Rx or two for an illness or condition that requires medication, and been in touch with a pharmacist.Pharmacists dispense drugs that are prescribed by doctors and other health care workers. Those who work in hospitals or clinics advise medical staff on the selection and effects of drugs. They also plan and monitor drug schedules for patients. Pharmacists may evaluate the success of drug therapies for hospital patients. In addition, they counsel patients on how to use drugs while in the hospital and after they go home.
Pharmacists who work in pharmacies provide information about drugs sold without a prescription. Before suggesting a drug, pharmacists ask customers about their symptoms and current medicines they are taking. Pharmacists monitor patients' drug use to make sure they do not take drugs that have harmful interactions. They may also give advice about medical supplies. Sometimes pharmacists compound drugs for customers. This means they mix ingredients to form powders or solutions. However, compounding is a rare task because most medicines come from the manufacturer in standard dosages.
Pharmacists also perform administrative tasks. For example, they keep records about patients and inventory on a computer. They analyze records to look at trends in drug use or possible excessive use. They also plan and carry out dispensing procedures to meet legal requirements. They monitor the security of controlled substances and the disposal of hazardous waste. Pharmacists may also hire and supervise employees or interns.
The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career.
- Review prescriptions for accuracy before dispensing.
- Provide information to patients about dosage, side effects, and drug interactions.
- Prepare sterile equipment for use by doctors and patients.
- Analyze prescribing trends to prevent excess usage and harmful interactions.
- Order drugs and other medical supplies.
- Maintain proper procedures for quality and security of controlled substances.
- Maintain records of pharmacy inventory and patient profiles.
- Manage pharmacy operations, including hiring and supervising employees.
- Review and monitor drug therapies for hospital patients.
- Provide services to help patients manage special health conditions.
- Determine the strength, type, and purity of medications.
- Answer questions and make recommendations to customers about over-the-counter drugs.
- Advise hospital medical staff on selection and effects of drugs.
- May compound medications using standard formulas and processes.
- Provide health promotion and prevention activities.
- Train pharmacy students who work as interns.
- Refer patients to other health care workers.
- Write educational information for patients and other health care workers.
- Dispense drugs prescribed by doctors and health care workers.
People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations.
- Use computers.
- Update and use job-related knowledge.
- Process information.
- Make decisions and solve problems.
- Get information needed to do the job.
- Document and record information.
- Explain the meaning of information to others.
- Evaluate information against standards.
- Identify objects, actions, and events.
- Assist and care for others.
- Analyze data or information.
- Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
- Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates.
- Work with the public.
- Judge the value of objects, services, or people.
- Organize, plan, and prioritize work.
- Provide advice and consultation to others.
- Communicate with people from outside the organization.
- Teach others.
- Establish and maintain relationships.
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Have a high level of social contact. They work with patients and medical staff constantly.
- Are responsible for the work done by other employees and interns.
- Often deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous customers. Customers may become upset if medications are not ready on time.
- Are somewhat responsible for the health and safety of customers or patients.
- Communicate with coworkers and customers daily by telephone or in person.
- Write letters and memos on a weekly basis.
- Work in a group or as part of a team.
- Always work indoors.
- Are exposed to diseases and infections on a weekly basis.
- Work very near patients and customers. They often work within inches of other people.
- Must be sure that their work is exact. Errors could cause serious harm to patients.
- Repeat the same tasks over and over, such as dispensing drugs.
- Make decisions on a daily basis that strongly impact patients. They rarely consult with a supervisor before making decisions.
- Are usually able to set some tasks and goals for the day without talking to a supervisor.
- Must meet strict deadlines on a daily basis.
- Generally have a set schedule each week.
- May work full time or part time. Most work 40 hours per week. Those who are self-employed often work more than 50 hours per week.
- May work evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays. Many pharmacies are open for extended hours or around the clock.
- May travel to nursing homes or other facilities as a consultant.
Physical Work Conditions
In a typical work setting, people in this career:
- Use their hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools, or controls.
- Stand for long periods of time.
- Repeat the same movements.
- See details of objects that are less than a few feet away.
- Speak clearly so listeners can understand.
- Understand the speech of another person.
- Use fingers to grasp, move, or assemble very small objects.
- Hold the arm and hand in one position or hold the hand steady while moving the arm.
- See differences between colors, shades, and brightness.
- See details of objects that are more than a few feet away.
- Use one or two hands to grasp, move, or assemble objects.
- Make quick, precise adjustments to machine controls.
- Use stomach and lower back muscles to support the body for long periods without getting tired.
- Move two or more limbs together (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while remaining in place.
- Focus on one source of sound and ignore others.
- Hear sounds and recognize the difference between them.
- Bend, stretch, twist, or reach out.
- Use muscles to lift, push, pull, or carry heavy objects.
People in this career frequently:
It is important for people in this career to be able to:
It is not as important, but still necessary, for people in this career to be able to:
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.