How Pharmacists Fulfill Two Entirely Separate Roles
Pharmacists are vitally important members of the medical profession who have evolved greatly from their traditional role as people who simply write out labels and fill bottles with medicines. The modern pharmacist can get involved in some situations where quick thinking and a deep knowledge are necessary, such as when a patient needs urgent treatment and they are the ones who know the capabilities of the drugs on hand. They may also have to deal with situations where individual patients have reacted badly to a drug, even though many other patients will have used it successfully.
There are two distinct roles within pharmacy which are entirely separate and very different. One is the role of community pharmacist, which involves dispensing medicines under prescription from an independent practice not usually affiliated with any hospital. The other type of pharmacist is the one who works in a hospital. This is the role which is far more likely to need expertise in how to deal with emergency situations, as there are likely to be people in situations where treatment is needed quickly. Even the community pharmacist may have to dispense medicines quickly if someone walks in off the street with a problem, and in any case the job demands formal education and an understanding of the properties of medicines.
Pharmacists in a hospital situation can make a significant difference to the care a patient receives, which is why their job is often termed pharmaceutical care. They can greatly reduce the numbers of errors made in prescribing medicines, and they can also play a significant role in helping patients to stick to the regimen given to them. For any drug treatment to be effective, it has to be maintained at the right level for the length of time needed. The pharmacist can also keep a closer watch on the reactions a patient may exhibit while they are receiving treatment, taking the pressure off doctors who are overworked.
There are also specialist areas within pharmacy which can become a full time career with dedication and further training. Those who develop the highest understanding of drugs and the effect they can have can often be given advisory roles where they are in direct contact with patients. These patients may be about to leave the hospital after a long period of care, and will need careful instruction on how to manage their drug therapies and what to look for to see if there are any negative effects. They can give advice as to the signs of potential side effects.
Because pharmacists are highly trained operatives with the need for a deep knowledge of their subject, they need to have been trained in a formal setting. A university education is now a must for entry to this profession, and this always involves a considerable sacrifice of time and money. The pharmacy course itself will last for four years, and to even qualify for that you will need to have completed undergraduate studies. These courses will typically be taken in a residential university environment, but technology has now provided an alternative.
You can join the ranks of practicing pharmacists by completing an online course, either from one of the established universities or from a provider which offers only online learning. This will allow you to continue earning in your current career while you study, and takes a lot of the pressure off. You will need to be the right type of person for home study, which means you need to be able to motivate yourself and not lose heart when you are finding it tough going. There will be plenty of support through online channels to help you through and get you back on track. You will also need a quiet study area which you can use whenever you need it, and a high degree of concentration. The qualities which will help you in your studies are also excellent traits for practicing pharmacists.