Answers from the Experts

Top Ten Reasons to Become a Pharmacist
Provided by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

1. I WANT TO HELP PEOPLE GET WELL
Pharmacists play a key role in helping patients feel better and get well as quickly as possible. Pharmacists can be instrumental in improving the health of patients by choosing the best medicines and helping to avoid side effects. There are often multiple medications available on the market to treat a single disease or ailment. Pharmacists work with prescribers to determine the best drug- and non-drug therapy for a patient's particular illness, age, gender, health, etc. Pharmacists screen patients for drug allergies and adverse drug effects.

2. I LIKE TO WORK DIRECTLY WITH PATIENTS
Since pharmacies are often located within a residential community and in common shopping places like grocery stores, pharmacists are generally considered the most accessible member of the health care team. Patients can often visit their local pharmacist to seek advice about the medications they are taking without making an appointment. Pharmacists may also provide other services such as immunizations, asthma care, blood pressure monitoring services, cholesterol screening, diabetes disease management, smoking cessation consultation, bone density scans for osteoporosis screening, anticoagulation management clinics, and more.

3. I WANT A WIDE VARIETY OF CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
Pharmacists can work in a myriad a professional settings. The majority of pharmacists (60%) work in an independent or retail chain community pharmacy and provide counseling to patients on the use of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Pharmacists work in numerous other health care environments as well, including hospitals, nursing homes, managed care organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, colleges and schools, and the federal government. Pharmacists play key leadership roles in all aspects of the health care system.

4. I CAN BENEFIT FROM THE INCREASED DEMAND FOR PHARMACISTS
There is an ongoing demand for pharmacy services throughout the U.S. in most sectors of the profession. The demand is fueled by increased demand for patient services, rise in the number of prescriptions filled each year, increase in the number of medicines available on the market, and growing elderly population.

5. I WANT TO BE AN IMPORTANT MEMBER OF THE HEALTH CARE TEAM
Pharmacists work with other health care professionals to maximize health outcomes. Numerous studies have proven that the presence of a pharmacist on hospital rounds as a full member of the patient care team has been shown to prevent drug errors and reduce costs. The collaboration of health care professionals, such as physicians and pharmacists, can help to ensure that patients properly take their medications as prescribed and avoid any harmful drug interactions.

6. I CAN HAVE JOB MOBILITY, STABILITY, AND FLEXIBILITY
Pharmacists are employed in every part of the country. Pharmacy licensure is generally reciprocal between U.S. states, however, additional tests or criteria may be required to transfer licensure status. Pharmacists may be able to establish non-traditional or part-time work hours, depending on the practice setting. With the shortage of pharmacists, pharmacy students often receive multiple job offers prior to graduation.

7. I AM EXCITED TO BE A PART OF MAJOR INNOVATIONS IN DRUG THERAPY
One of the many exciting developments in the pharmacy profession is the growth of a discipline, known as pharmacogenomics. Genetic variations in genes can affect a body's response to a drug. In the future, specialists in this area hope to sequence the entire human gene in each individual. Pharmacists and other health care providers will be able to use that information to select the best medicines, treat diseases earlier than now possible, or prevent them entirely with individually-tailored drug therapies.

8. I WANT TO WORK WITH STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY
Digital innovations in pharmacy include electronic prescriptions, robotics for central prescription processing, and use of computers in practice as well as pharmaceutical research. These technological advances enhance efficiency and help to promote patient safety. Pharmacists use these same tools to help prioritize work, fill prescriptions with greater accuracy, and spend more time with patients. By law, pharmacists must oversee an automated dispensing process for quality control purposes.

9. I CAN HELP DEFEND AGAINST BIOTERRORISM
Pharmacists are educated to recognize signs and symptoms of diseases that may be used in a biological attack. The accessibility of pharmacies could be one of the keys to a successful mass immunization or drug distribution program in an emergency. In an epidemic or bioterror situation, pharmacists are prepared to play a major role in preventing the spread of disease and overseeing the distribution of appropriate and safe medications.

10. I WOULD LIKE TO BE A HIGHLY RESPECTED MEMBER OF MY COMMUNITY
According to a November 2003 Gallup Poll, pharmacists' honesty and ethics were rated as "high" or "very high" by 67% of Americans, and surpassed in ranking only by nurses. Pharmacists are visible leaders in our community who are entrusted with the health of our families.

For more information about pharmacy education and careers, visit the AACP web site at www.aacp.org and select "For Students and Applicants" menu option.

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Elisabeth J. "Libby" Ross, MA
Director, PharmCAS and Student Affairs
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
1426 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
703/739-2330, x1024
Lross@aacp.org
www.aacp.org
www.pharmcas.org

 

 
 
courtesy of Saint Michael's College
 
© 2006 Ventures In Education, Inc.