Clinical pharmacist positions are becoming an increasingly important part of advanced medical care, now that there are so many people reaching retirement age and beyond. The care of a doctor is obviously necessary, but there are limits as to what even a doctor can do with the time available. If some of the work of dispensing medicines and monitoring results can be delegated to a pharmacist the doctor will have more hours available to treat patients directly, and pharmacists are taking on ever more of these tasks.
The traditional working environment of clinical pharmacists has been the hospital or care home where long term patients need to be given regular treatment. This is still the case today, although pharmacists can be found in many environments where this type of care is needed. Most of the work is relatively routine as a doctor will prescribe a course of treatment which the patient will need to complete, and the pharmacist will dispense the medicines and monitor the treatment. In most cases, the treatment continues until the end with little alarm, and then the doctor will examine the patient again. The treatment will typically either be repeated or discontinued.
There will be times when everything does not go to plan, and it is at these times when the pharmacist can have a significant input. The pharmacist will be used to dispensing these medicines, and will know what to look for in terms of possible complications and side effects. If the treatment has been prescribed at a low dose, the pharmacist will know when the dose needs to be gradually increased until the optimum level is found. If there are side effects, the pharmacist will know whether the treatment is so essential that the side effects need to be treated with further drugs, or whether a different treatment can be tried.
The clinical pharmacist working in a hospital may also have to deal with emergency situations. The doctors and surgeons will still be in the front line as far as treating the patient is concerned, but the pharmacist can still have an important role to play in dispensing and necessary medicines. The pharmacist may be detailed to watch for reactions while the doctors move on to other emergency patients. Clinical pharmacists can greatly reduce the incidence of incorrectly prescribed treatments, and they can also perform the necessary corrections when everything does not go entirely as expected.
Anyone working as a pharmacist in either a clinical or retail situation must have the qualifications which are laid down by law. This will involve taking a four year university course, either on a campus or through an online learning platform. This will only be possible once you have completed pre-graduate studies, and many pharmacists continue to study even after the four year course has been completed. The fact that there are now online learning options has opened up this career to many who would otherwise have found it too difficult to spare the time and make the necessary physical relocation.
The job of a clinical pharmacist is becoming increasingly intensive as the demands increase. Doctors are offloading some of their workload onto the pharmacist, who is already overworked as it is. It is no surprise, therefore, to see pharmacists doing the same thing and offloading work to their own assistants and technicians. There is more of a managerial aspect to the role than there has ever been before, and that is likely to become even more pronounced in the future. The ability to know when to delegate, and to supervise those working under you, is vital, and will form an increasingly significant part of the training for a clinical pharmacist.