In a sense, pharmacy practice is a “back-to-the-future” story. In the early days of American pharmacy, pharmacists served in the role of community caregivers, diagnosing ailments and then managing them by compounding individual remedies. With the advent of commercialized drug production, increased regulation and legislative action, evolved standards of practice in many ways impeded patient interactions rather than encouraging them. Pharmacists from the 1940s to the 1960s did not routinely counsel patients and did not even customarily put the name of the dispensed drug on the drug label. That protocol was reversed in the late 1970s. Washington became the first state to require pharmacists to counsel patients about new prescriptions and to keep a running profile of each customer’s medications. By the 1980s, pharmacists were once again playing a more integral role in direct patient care.

Today, the pharmacist plays an essential role as part of the healthcare team. Our professional responsibilities cover five essential areas:

  1. Drug delivery and medication safety.
  2. Patient education and advocacy..
  3. Monitoring drug therapy.
  4. Teaming with other health care providers.
  5. Research and clinical studies.


Practice areas in Pharmacy (Careers in pharmacy )
  • Academic pharmacist
  • Community pharmacist
  • Drug information specialist
  • Hospital staff pharmacist
  • Managed care pharmacist
  • Nuclear pharmacist
  • Primary care pharmacist
  • Regulatory pharmacist
  • Chain drug store pharmacist
  • Compounding pharmacist
  • Home care pharmacist
  • Industry-based pharmacist
  • Military pharmacist
  • Nutrition support pharmacist
  • Public health service pharmacist
  • Veterinary pharmacist
Academic pharmacist

What do you need?

  • Ability to balance research and teaching responsibilities with patient care
  • Ability to serve as a role model for pharmacy students and residents
  • Comfort with sophisticated instrumentation, statistical analyses, and other research methods

Where will you practice?

  • Universities
  • Schools of pharmacy
  • Local, state, national, and international organizations
Chain drug store pharmacist
  • Endurance to work long hours, often standing up
  • Ability to handle multiple tasks and heavy workloads
  • Ability to endure high levels of stress
  • A desire to help people and improve the quality of their lives
  • A strong ability to communicate clearly and effectively
  • A team approach and a positive attitude
  • Traditional chain drugstores
  • Supermarket pharmacies
  • Mass merchandiser pharmacies
Community pharmacist  
  • A desire to work extensively with people
  • Education in business management (accounting, management, marketing , etc.)
  • Courses in pharmacy administration may be helpful
  • Community pharmacies (independent or chain)
  • Supermarkets
Compounding pharmacist  
  • Advanced training in advanced compounding techniques
  • Creativity and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work one-on-one with patients and determine individual needs
  • Compounding pharmacies
  • General pharmacies
  • Hospitals
  • Universities
Drug information specialist  
  • Experience and/or training in clinical toxicology, poison, and drug information services
  • Communication skills
  • Ease with computers and other modern technologies
  • Hospitals
  • Industry
  • Community settings
Home care pharmacist  
  • Willingness to work as part of a multidisciplinary health care team
  • Effective communication skills
  • Strong record-keeping and documentation skills
  • Willingness to be flexible with hours and on-call
  • Patients’ homes
  • Home care agencies
  • Specialized infusion
  • Ambulatory infusion centers
Hospital staff pharmacist  
  • Ability to work one-on-one with patients
  • Organizational skills, to be responsible for systems which control drug distribution
  • Proficient in math
  • Good communication skills
  • Hospitals
  • Health systems
Industry-based pharmacist  
  • Ability to meet technical demands and perform scientific duties
  • Administrative, management, and/or business skills may be useful
  • Sales and/or marketing skills may be useful
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Biotechnology companies
Managed care pharmacist  
  • Ability to perform research and analyze results
  • Willingness to work closely with physicians, case managers, and other care givers
  • Business and management skills
  • Ability to interact with clients and solve their problems
  • Health Maintenance Organizations
  • Preferred Provider Organizations
  • Care management programs
Military pharmacist  
  • Ability to handle a lot of responsibility early in your career
  • Desire for foreign travel and frequent moves
  • Desire to work in and out of a hospital setting
  • Army pharmacies
  • Navy pharmacies
  • Air Force pharmacies
Nuclear pharmacist  
  • Ability to serve as a Radiation Safety Officer (training is needed in areas such as radiation physics, biology and radiopharmaceutical chemistry, followed by one year of experience as a radiation safety technologist)
  • Training in the handling of radioactive materials (can be obtained as part of PharmD or through company training)
  • Ability to describe literature regarding radiopharmaceuticals to hospital and lab staff
  • Specialized pharmacies
  • Imaging centers
  • Hospitals
  • Universities
Nutrition support pharmacist  
  • Ability to work well with patients
  • Ability to function as a member of a multidisciplinary team
  • Creativity in designing treatments specific to a patient’s needs
  • Acute and subacute care facilities
  • Ambulatory clinics
  • Skilled nursing facilities
  • Patients’ homes
Primary care pharmacist  
  • Ability to work alongside physicians and nurses as part of a primary healthcare team
  • Written and oral communication skills
  • Desire to be directly involved in patient care
  • General internal medicine clinics
  • Primary care clinics
  • Family medicine clinics
  • Universities
Public health service pharmacist  
  • Commitment to public health
  • Willingness to work with medically underserved populations
  • Ability to take on a variety of administrative and clinical roles
  • Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA
  • National Institutes of Health)
Regulatory pharmacist  
  • Project management/organizational skills
  • Negotiation and communication skills
  • Understanding of the scientific and technical background of products
  • Willingness to keep up to date with regulatory policies and procedures
  • Associations
  • Government
  • Consulting companies
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Universities
Veterinary pharmacist  
  • Creativity and resourcefulness for dealing with a variety of animal patients and their owners
  • Ability to work closely with veterinarians
  • Strong knowledge base in pharmacy and the willingness to compound prescriptions
  • Ability to solve problems, prepare products, teach and consult with healthcare workers and pet owners
  • Specialized veterinary pharmacies
  • Veterinary schools
  • Animal clinics
  • Animal hospitals
  • Rescue centers
  • Universities
  • Compounding pharmacies
  • Chain pharmacies