A comment was left on my blog asking me what did a work at home pharmacist do? Good question! I'm sure that most of the world has one image when thinking of a pharmacist. The neighborhood retail pharmacist standing behind a counter with a phone propped on one shoulder (bad ergonomic posture) while typing in a prescription into a computer where the computer does all the brain work, etc... There are many other pharmacist jobs out there... so many more that I want to take the time to address a few. I am sure I will leave out some, so feel free to comment and leave more examples, if you wish. 1. Hospital Pharmacist (staff) - the staff hospital pharmacist usually reviews orders that are entered from the chart. In some settings the hospital pharmacist enters and reviews the orders from the charts, checks for drug interactions, appropriate doses, etc... They also check carts that are filled with drugs for stock on each of the floors. They also enter all chemotherapy orders (finding more mistakes, usually since dosage can be calculated by body surface area, etc...), mix chemotherapy and prepare, mix and prepare total parenteral nutrition (in layman's terms "IV food") that contains dextrose, lipids, amino acids, and a variety of electrolytes and salts, etc... that even within themselves have to be a specific concentration and even mixed in a certain order to prevent precipitation. Precipitation in the vein is a bad thing. They also mix and check IVs ranging from the easy vancomycin in sodium chloride to IVIG. Some hospitals have staff pharmacists performing kinetics checks to make sure that the little 90 year old woman can renally (that's with the kidneys) clear certain drugs like vancomycin, tobramycin, and levaquin.
2. Specialty pharmacists in a hospital setting - Here we go, these are the pharmacists that did a residency - working for half of the pay for a year or more - learning a speciality. Critical care pharmacists, infectious disease pharmacists, coumadin pharmacists, on and on and on... These guys don't help much with the day-to-day stuff. They usually do a lot of speeches, have pharmacist students under them during the year, have more of a 9-5 job, etc... It's too narrow a spectrum for me, but it's definitely a brainer side of pharmacy.
3. Work at home pharmacist - a lot of companies are centralizing their operations and in doing so the order entry/review front end work can be done from home. Some companies that have many hospitals are condensing all of this into one job at home. Depending on the company, you can be checking front end orders from charts that are scanned into a computer program like Pyxis all the way to handling one or two specialty drugs.
4. Retail pharmacist - makes a lot of money. A lot of headaches. A lot of stress. And I never ever got to take a pee. I remember most days holding my pee for 12 hours at a time all the while listening to the public bitch about their higher copay. The real issue is that Eckerd, Walgreens, CVS, etc... don't give you enough help hours so there's this frenzied pace of working that leads to the horrid mistakes you hear about on the news. There's some good retail situations, but I found them few and far between. Perhaps I am a wuss.
5. Long term care pharmacist - front end and fulfillment responsibilities for servicing nursing homes. Omnicare is your biggest player with Pharmerica/Kindred right behind. Can be a good schedule.
6. Consultant pharmacist - the pharmacist that travels about nursing homes and residential places checking charts required by law and destroying expired controlled medications. Making recommendations, etc...
7. Drug rep - Drug expert at one or two drugs - don't have to be a pharmacist. Learns exactly what the drug company tells you. Carries around charts and studies to look smart. Gives away pens, free lunches, and sponsors speeches about the drug. My personal opinion can be attacked here, but I feel this job is a conflict of interest for the public. Some docs don't do their homework and what their drug rep tells them is what they believe. Even if it is false. Even if it is misled. There are some good drugs out there, though. I just bet the Avandia drug rep is a little nervous right now.
8. Drug Information Center - mans an information center to answer questions from anyone, universities, and the public about drug questions, pill identification, etc... The ability to know how to research and find what is needed.
9. Pharmacy professor - self explanatory.
10. Home Infusion pharmacist - takes call for new admits going home from the hospital on some sort of IV medication whether it be TPN, desferal pump, or an IV antibiotic... it's all IVs... no tablets, etc... but a nice little clinical niche.
I'm sure I'm leaving some out... but I wanted to at least let the world know pharmacists are more than the retail version.