Pharmacy is practiced in a wide range of settings: community pharmacies, hospitals, long term care facilities, the pharmaceutical industry, mail service, managed care, and government (Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Service, Public Health Service). A survey identified 112,000 pharmacists in community pharmacy (66,000 in chains; 46,000 in independents), 40,000 in hospitals, and 21,000 in consulting, government, academic, industry and other settings.
Historically, educational requirements for pharmacists included the choice of two entry-level degrees: a five-year Bachelor of Science in pharmacy (BS Pharmacy) or a six-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). However, as of the year 2000, most schools of pharmacy began offering only the PharmD degree. This extensive training makes the pharmacist the most knowledgeable health care professional when it comes to medicines and their use.
Medicines today have great power to heal and to improve the quality of life for millions of Americans. But medicines also may do serious harm if not taken correctly. This is where the role of the pharmacist is most important. You should choose your pharmacist as carefully as you choose a physician. It is best to use only one pharmacy so all medication records are at one location. This way there will be less risk of duplicating medicine or having one prescription interact harmfully with another.
Pharmacists who know their patients and have their medication profiles on file will be aware of possible harmful drug interactions or allergies to certain drugs. The pharmacist also will be able to discuss possible side effects; what foods, drinks, or activities that should be avoided while on a medication; what to do if you miss a dose; and a wide range of other helpful information.
The pharmacist is a key health care professional in helping people achieve the best results from their medications. Americans should choose a pharmacist they trust and build a partnership for good health.