If you want a high-paying career in the medical field that doesn't involve becoming a doctor, pharmacy school may make sense. Pharmacists work in retail pharmacies, hospitals and clinics and dispense medications to patients based on doctor prescriptions. They also consult with customers on proper use and side effects of the medicines. With a degree and several key personal qualities, you could be in line for a pharmacy career.
Pharmacies are filled with both product inventory and patient records. The pharmacist is ultimately in charge of the organization of both. Organized stock makes it easier for pharmacists and technicians to efficiently pull medications and fill prescriptions. This is an important customer service and business issue for a pharmacy. Pharmacies must maintain precise and thorough records of patients and prescription fills as well. This is most often done with computerized databases, but pharmacists need to ensure accuracy and train new hires on how to input and use data. Precise counting of pills or liquids and proper labeling of bottles are critical to avoid overuse by patients.
Retail pharmacies have expanded in the early 21st century and a number of retail chains, including Hy-Vee, Walmart and Target, have become prominent in pharmacy services. With more retail choices, along with hospital and clinic pharmacies, customers have high expectations for service. Thus, friendly, helpful and customer-oriented pharmacists appeal more to pharmacy clientele and make them more attractive to employers. Pharmacists must also communicate well. The pharmacist often consults with patients on the use of a new or changed prescription to note any side effects or special directions.
Pharmacists rely on effective communication with physicians to ensure patient prescriptions are filled accurately and as intended to avoid excessive prescriptions. An ethical commitment to the safety and well-being of patients is key. Insurance companies also alert pharmacies when it is too soon for insurance coverage on a prescription. Pharmacists oversee and have easy access to an entire inventory of medications so it is inherent that they are ethical in dispensing medications as intended.
If you aren't somewhat adaptable as a pharmacist, you can easily get overwhelmed, stressed and eventually burned out. Pharmacists deal with an array of people, struggle with changes in technical and technician staff and often work 10 to 12 hour days. Staying calm under pressure helps you deal with a steady stream of customers, make and receive phone calls from doctor's offices and insurance companies, and handle customer complaints. Pharmacists in hospital and clinics also interact with customers who may be under stress themselves from personal or family illness. You must not show your stress to patients and co-workers.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.