The Jobs of a Pharmacist: Hospital vs. Retail

December 8, 2012
Without a closer look, the differences between a hospital pharmacist and a retail pharmacist may seem obsolete. Many would go as far as claiming the two are exactly the same besides the establishment where the pharmacist is working. When the task required and the salary is assessed, it becomes apparent that the jobs of a retail pharmacist and a hospital pharmacist have as many dissimilarities as they do similarities.

Retail pharmacy pertains to the type of pharmacy the general public is most familiar with; this includes those working in neighborhood pharmacies and in Walgreens, Kroger’s, and other convenient store pharmacies. To become a retail pharmacist, a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree from an accredited pharmacy school is required, as well as passing the licensing test for the state of practice. Looking forward, there is a predicted growth in this occupation, and is a highly recommended career choice for students who are interested in medicine. The salary is also on the upper end of the pay scale. The median salary for a retail pharmacist is $102, 930 a year.

One factor that influences many pharmacists to go into the retail department is the option to be self-employed. Those who are not self-employed are usually the head of the pharmacy where they practice, and answer only to the owners of the establishment. However, retail pharmacists are generally required to do more than dispense medications but also sell toiletries, cosmetics, and other commercial products. Over the counter or OTC medicines are also sold at retail pharmacies, and pharmacists at these facilities council patients on its usage.

The most important job of a retail pharmacist is dispensing prescription medications. In general, the pharmacist has little or no part in the decision of what medication the patient is prescribed. Retail pharmacists must also supervise and check the work of their less qualified staff before medications are given to the patient.

Hospital pharmacists work in a wide variety of hospital settings and generally do not have contact with the patients. Like a retail pharmacist, a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree from an accredited pharmacy school is necessary and they must pass the state licensing test as well. Some hospital pharmacist or pharmaceutical jobs require extra training of up to two more years plus a residency period to specialize in a certain branch of pharmaceuticals that requires more extensive training and precision. These include the fields pertaining to various cancer treatments, and pediatrics. The occupation is projected to grow as the need for healthcare expands. The median salary for a hospital pharmacist is relatively higher than that of a retail pharmacist, being that it is approximately $116, 895 a year.

Pharmacists in the hospital setting are generally employed by the hospital. In some cases, the on duty pharmacist will be the head of the pharmacy department. This usually takes place in smaller hospitals. Larger hospitals are more likely to have another person, other than an on duty pharmacist, as the pharmacy director. Generally, they will be a pharmacist as well, but will not be filling prescriptions. Instead, making sure everything is running smoothly.

Hospital pharmacists have some duties that are outside of the pharmacy itself, such as going with nurses on ward rounds to make sure the medications are working properly or if dosages need to be adjusted. Hospital pharmacists also work closely with the doctors in making decisions concerning a patient’s medications. To insure precision when filling medications, a hospital pharmacist must be sure to check the work of their pharmacy technicians and other less qualified staff before dispensing the medications throughout the hospital.
This job also requires a punctuality that is not required for a retail pharmacist. A hospital pharmacist is responsible for getting medicine to the patient at the correct time for the drug to be administered properly. Being late could be a matter of life or death and must be taken very seriously.
While both retail pharmacists and hospital pharmacists may have gone to college side by side, the task they are to perform after graduation varies. Nevertheless, no matter what the specific branch of pharmacy is, rest assured that the pharmacist on duty will be working diligently to ensure the well-being of their patients.

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