Registered pharmacist positions are growing in number, without an equivalent growth in the number of registered pharmacists to fill them. This shortage of pharmacists is leading to a situation where many of the traditional duties they would have performed are being delegated to technicians and assistants, simply to cope with the work load. The positive side of this for people wishing to work as pharmacists is that there are plenty of opportunities, but there is a heavy and difficult education period to be gone through before this can happen.
All pharmacists need to be properly registered and regulated, and they also need to be educated to the required university level. This will take four years of study, even after a pre-graduate course has been completed. Even when you are qualified, there may still be a period of specialist training before you can practice independently as a pharmacist. This will depend on the type of job you are looking for, and the location in which you will be operating. There are still more pharmacy jobs in retail than anywhere else, including hospitals, and there will always be consistent need for these community pharmacists. It is one of the most solid opportunities within the industry for those who are qualified.
The main work carried out by a community pharmacist involves dispensing medicines which have been prescribed to the customer by a doctor. This will often involve a repeat prescription as there are many cases where the treatment needs to continue unaltered for a long period of time. At other times, advice may need to be given to someone who is just starting to receive medical treatment. In the past, this advice would always have been given by the pharmacist, but now there are so many pharmacists who are short of time it is often given to a technician to take care of. The trained pharmacist will, of course, continue to monitor the situation to make sure the correct advice is given.
A registered pharmacist can also be commonly found in a hospital setting, and this type of arrangement is likely to become even more common in the future as there will be increasing numbers of patients needing long term treatment. The doctors will need to prescribe the treatment, but the pharmacist can do much to make sure that it is effective. Some patients need assistance with maintaining a treatment program, while others simply react in a way which could not be foreseen by the doctor. A pharmacist can tell when doses need to be increased or lessened, and they can tell when side effects mean further intervention is necessary.
The best preparation of all for becoming a pharmacist is to train while you are working as a technician or assistant. You do not need a university degree to apply for these positions, but you will need to have completed your high school education. As a student of pharmacy, you will be especially welcome to many employers because they will see a day, just as you can, where they will be able to offer you a position as a pharmacist. They will already know you, and they will know what you have already learned.
You will still need to be qualified as a registered pharmacist before you can make this career move, but once the time has come the transition should happen that much more smoothly. Having said that, there is no reason why someone from any background should not succeed as a pharmacist. There is plenty of opportunity for anyone who can complete the educational requirement and put themselves in the running for a job. There is a desperate shortage of people trained to be a registered pharmacist.