Pharmacist employment opportunities are growing in number due to two important factors. Firstly, there is the expansion in the health care industry which is inevitable now that the population is aging as a whole, and a far greater percentage of people are living past retirement age. Secondly, there is the fact that this career is far from an easy one to break into, as it demands a high level of education which can only be obtained with a four year college course following extensive pre-graduate study.
The pharmacist has always been a vital part of the medical profession, dispensing drugs which were prescribed by doctors both in and out of hospital. Having someone with this job description meant that doctors were able to allocate their time to direct interaction with patients and achieve far more in any given day. The role of the pharmacist has changed little over the years, although there are computerized aids to help with the paperwork and administration. The most significant change in recent years has been the increase in the numbers of technicians who have been taking on some of the routine tasks which pharmacist used to do for themselves. This is a direct consequence of the shortage of pharmacists.
The largest number of pharmacists are employed in a retail setting dispensing medicines which are prescribed by doctors. Many of these businesses are now part of large chains which have stores in many different areas, and which employ thousands of people. One of the advantages of being part of such a chain is that it is nearly always easy to organize cover for days when you will not be present in the store. This is one of the problems which the smaller independent pharmacist finds difficult to handle, as there is always work which needs to be attended to personally.
The tasks of liaising with patients and advising them on how to get the best from their medicines was always one which the pharmacist would see to themselves, but that situation is now changing. There is an increased demand for the services of retail pharmacists which is meaning that they are always ever more thinly stretched. One way of coping with this is to offload certain routine tasks to pharmacist technicians. These technicians are assistants to the pharmacists who do not have the same high level of education, but who have a basic grounding in the way a pharmacy works.
The other common setting for pharmacist employment is the hospital, and a different type of skill set is needed here. While there are some long term patients who will need a very similar type of attention to those who visit a retail pharmacy, many others will be in need of emergency attention. Doctors will attend to these patients and decide how they should be treated, but the pharmacist may be called in to actually dispense the drugs. It can sometimes be difficult to assess exactly how much of a drug is needed, so the advice of a trained and experienced pharmacist can be helpful even to a doctor.
There are still aspects of hospital pharmacist employment which are relatively routine, such as the dispensing of regular prescriptions to long term patients. A pharmacist will need to know which signs to look for to know whether a dosage should be increased or reduced, r whether there are many complications arising from the treatments. These complications may mean that extra medicine is needed to combat side effects, or it may mean that the treatment needs to be discontinued altogether. Even in the hospital setting there are more tasks being taken on by pharmacy technicians, as qualified pharmacists are hard to find.
Qualifying to become a pharmacist is a long and hard endeavor, as it requires four years of college study after completing a pre-graduate course. There are no short cuts to these requirements, as they are set by the authorities. Training to become a pharmacist is easiest when you are of college age and able to commit to a full residential course, but there are now other possibilities. Many of the colleges which offer these courses also have an online study version, and there are also online courses from specialist Internet providers.
You can qualify for pharmacist employment without ever needing to move from your present address or give up your existing career. This has made it far easier for mature students to gain the needed qualifications and to enter the profession. Hopefully, this will have an increasing effect in reducing the shortages or qualified pharmacists which is afflicting both the hospitals and retail sector. For now, though, anyone who successfully completes a four year course and who has the necessary qualifications will have an excellent chance of securing regular pharmacist employment.