Pharmacists dispense the medicine prescribed by doctors and other authorized health professionals. Over-the-counter drugs are already packaged, but prescriptions have to be measured, bottled and sometimes mixed from medicinal compounds. Pharmacists are experts in the use, composition and effects of medications, as well as the laws that regulate the manufacture and sale of drugs. They review medications for possible reactions to patients’ other prescriptions, foods and diseases to reduce the chances of side effects. Pharmacists play a vital role in patient education by ensuring people understand how to take their prescription and any possible side effects that may result. Working in a pharmacy requires great attention to detail so that prescriptions are filled correctly and accurate records are kept.
Pharmacists run the daily operations of the pharmacy in retail stores, drug stores and hospitals. They supervise a team of pharmacy technicians and consult with patients about the use of prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. Some pharmacists work on the research and product development side for large pharmaceutical companies. Pharmacists in hospitals take a more active role in patient care and work with doctors to choose the right medications.
Pharmacists have a lot of flexibility in their job. About 20% work part-time. Full-time pharmacists work between 40 and 50 hours a week, with nights and weekends possible in pharmacies with extended hours.
Areas of Specialization
Pharmacists can specialize in a variety of areas, including critical care, nuclear pharmacy, nutrition support, research and product development, primary care therapeutic management and community pharmacy practice.
Pharmacy programs are six years long and result in a doctorate. They consist of two years of prerequisite coursework followed by three years of pharmacy classes. The final year is filled with practical experience at a variety of locations. Upon graduation, pharmacists may choose to specialize by going into a residency program.
Licensure and Certification
Pharmacy graduates must complete at least 500 hours of internship in a hospital or community practice and pass a computerized exam to obtain a license to practice in Iowa.
Career Outlook Map of Iowa
The job outlook for pharmacists is good. Statewide, the average growth rate is 15%. In the northeast corner of the state, the growth rate is 20%.
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