Exploring Pharmacy Career Options: 10 Different Types of Pharmacists

Pharmacy is an excellent career option for responsible, altruistic individuals interested in natural sciences, and improving people’s lives. It requires many years of education and hard work, but it is wellworth it in the end, as it serves to improve well-being of others. Once they complete their degrees, pharmacists generally don’t have much trouble finding employment and earning fair salaries.

If you’re interested in learning more about careers in pharmacy, we’ve got you covered. This article lists the most common career paths for pharmacists and describes their roles and job responsibilities.

Let’s dive in!

Retail Pharmacists

Working in a retail pharmacy is the most common and accessible job for pharmacists. Pharmacists in retail provide access to prescribed or over-the-counter medications and advise customers to ensure effective and safe use. Additionally, they manage a pharmacy’s day-to-day operations, supervise pharmacy technicians and other support staff, and provide training and guidance when needed.

Qualified pharmacists can choose their retail workspace based on skills and preferences. For example, some prefer working in  large chain pharmacies, such as Shoppers Drug Mart,  which owns a franchise of pharmacies across the country. Others will opt for smaller independent pharmacies focusing on personalized customer service.

The main benefit of independent pharmacies, such as Everest Whole Health Pharmacy, is more room to form one-on-one relationships with customers. This is because independent pharmacies have more flexibility regarding their products and services, whereas chain pharmacies have more standardized procedures and protocols, limiting their ability to provide customized care.

On the other hand, chain pharmacies are typically easily located as they have more locations in populated areas than personalized pharmacies, work longer hours, and may be cost-friendlier.

Hospital Pharmacists

Pharmacists often work in hospital pharmacy departments or hospital-affiliated pharmacies and perform an array of tasks, such as:

  • Filling out doctors’ prescriptions and ensuring patients get safe and appropriate medication,
  • Cooperating with doctors and other hospital staff to choose the best medication treatment for patients and accommodate their needs.
  • Educating patients and their families on best practices when using medication.
  • Obtaining, testing, storing, and inspecting medicine for the hospital.

Compounding Pharmacists

Compounding pharmacists specialize in creating custom-made medication for patients. These medications treat specific and complex health conditions, and typical retail pharmacies don’t keep them in stock.  Compounding pharmacists measure and administer this medicine to treat severe medical cases.

Their duties include modifying the medication’s strength, changing its form (e.g., from a pill to a liquid), or creating medication that is no longer commercially available.  Compounding pharmacists also work closely with physicians and patients to ensure that the medication they prepare is safe and effective for the individual patient’s needs.

Ambulatory Care Pharmacists

Ambulatory care refers to medical care that does not require an overnight or longer stay in a hospital or another healthcare facility. It encompasses various services, including preventive care, diagnostic testing, and treatment for acute and chronic illnesses. Ambulatory care can be provided in various settings, including doctors’ offices, clinics, ambulatory surgery centers, and urgent care centers.

Ambulatory pharmacists work in these settings and collaborate with doctors and other specialists to administer medicine. Additionally, they evaluate prescriptions, perform physical examinations, run standard health tests, and provide therapy recommendations.

Home Care Pharmacists

Healthcare services are sometimes provided outside hospitals and clinics. Home care includes services to assisted living facilities,  patients who can’t go outside their homes due to injuries and illnesses, and similar cases.

Medication-related problems are common among home care clients with various prescriptions, complex medical histories, and health problems. Home care pharmacists ensure medication is  in accordance with the specific patient’s needs and pay attention to their medical records and health conditions. They also administer specialty drugs, and can take care of intravenous medication and total parenteral nutrition.

Academia and Research Pharmacists

Academic careers can be quite fulfilling for pharmacists who are dedicated to science and innovation and want to focus on learning and research. Research pharmacists work on developing new medications and improving existing ones, while  pharmacists in academia teach at schools and colleges, work with research facilities, or serve as preceptors for students and residents.

Industrial Pharmacists

Professionals in the pharmaceutical industry work on  medication research, development, and production. This can include developing new formulations, conducting laboratory research, analyzing data, and overseeing manufacturing to ensure that medicine is made to fit specifications and regulations.

Additionally, industrial pharmacists can be involved in the regulatory process, ensuring that drugs meet the standards set by government agencies and are safe and effective for patients.  The job requires strong analytical and problem-solving skills and a deep understanding of the science behind medication and how it affects the human body.

They must also have strong attention to detail, as they need to guarantee manufacturing is correct and meets regulatory standards. Strong communication and skills are critical, as their job includes close teamwork with other scientists and engineers.

Military Pharmacists

Military service is a less common but possible career option for pharmacists. Military jobs are quite challenging since they require work in highly pressured environments where access to medicines and transportation can be limited. 

 Military pharmacists are responsible for ensuring medicine reaches service personnel. Furthermore, they work on providing services to ex-service personnel with long-term conditions resulting from active service.

Veterinary Practice Pharmacists

Veterinary pharmacists are responsible for the secure use of medications for animals. This includes interpreting and filling prescriptions, advising pet owners and veterinarians on the appropriate use of drugs, and monitoring the effects of medications on animals.

They also assist in developing new drugs and therapies for animals and may be involved in research studies. Veterinary pharmacists work in various settings, including veterinary clinics, research facilities, and pharmaceutical companies.

Regulatory Affairs Pharmacists

Regulatory jobs are suited for pharmacy specialists who don’t want to work in a patient-oriented setting but are rather interested in the organizational and administrative parts of the industry.

A career in regulatory affairs is in either thepublic sector (government body or public policy) or in a pharmaceutical company.  Regulatory affairs pharmacists are responsible for ensuring that drugs are developed, manufactured, and marketed in compliance with laws and regulations set by government agencies.

This includes  reviewing and preparing regulatory submissions, tracking regulatory updates and changes, and providing guidance to other departments, such as legal and clinical teams.

Pharmacy Is a Broad Field With Many Career Opportunities

Whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy or simply curious about this profession, we hope this article helped you get informed about viable employment opportunities for pharmacists.

As you can see, pharmacy is not as narrow of a career path as it might seem at first glance. Although commonly associated with retail work, pharmacy graduates can explore different options.

From hospital jobs to government or military positions, the rewarding calling of a pharmacist offers many exciting possibilities.

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