What Do Pharmacists Do?
Pharmacists are a member of the health care team as the experts in medicines. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) address the role of
pharmacists that is the drug therapy manager, involving responsibilities to ensure that wherever medicines are provided and used, quality products are selected, procured, stored, distributed,
dispensed and administered so that they contribute to the health of patients, and not to their harm.
Also, the scope of pharmacy practice now includes patient-centered care with all the cognitive functions of counseling, providing drug information and monitoring drug therapy, as well as technical
aspects of pharmaceutical services, including medicines supply management. It is in the additional role of managing drug therapy that pharmacists can now make a vital contribution
to patient care. (WHO/FIP, 2006)
The concept of the "seven-star pharmacist" was introduced by WHO and taken up by FIP in 2000 in its policy statement on Good Pharmacy Education Practice to cover these roles: caregiver,
decision-maker, communicator, manager, life-long learner, teacher and leader. Now WHO and FIP add the function of the pharmacist as a researcher.
The roles of the pharmacist are described below and include the following functions:
- Pharmacists provide caring services. They must view their practice as integrated and continuous with those of the health care system and other health professionals. Services must be of the highest quality.
- The appropriate, efficacious, safe and cost-effective use of resources (e.g., personnel, medicines, chemicals, equipment, procedures, practices) should be the foundation of the pharmacist's work.
At the local and national levels, pharmacists play a role in setting medicines policy. Achieving this goal requires the ability to evaluate, synthesize data and information and decide upon the most appropriate course of action.
- The pharmacist is in an ideal position to provide a link between prescriber and patient, and to communicate information on health and medicines to the public. He or she must be knowledgeable and confident while interacting with other health professionals and the public. Communication involves verbal, non-verbal, listening and writing skills.
- Pharmacists must be able to manage resources (human, physical and financial) and information effectively; they must also be comfortable being managed by others, whether by an employer or the manager/leader of a health care team. More and more, information and its related technology will provide challenges as pharmacists assume greater responsibility for sharing information about medicines and related products and ensuring their quality.
- It is impossible to acquire in pharmacy school all the knowledge and experience needed to pursue a life-long career as a pharmacist. The concepts, principles and commitment to life-long learning must begin while attending pharmacy school and must be supported throughout the pharmacist's career. Pharmacists should learn how to keep their knowledge and skills up to date.
- The pharmacist has a responsibility to assist with the education and training of future generations of pharmacists and the public. Participating as a teacher not only imparts knowledge to others, it offers an opportunity for the practitioner to gain new knowledge and to fine-tune existing skills.
- In multidisciplinary (e.g., team) caring situations or in areas where other health care providers are in short supply or non-existent the pharmacist is obligated to assume a leadership position in the overall welfare of the patient and the community. Leadership involves compassion and empathy as well as vision and the ability to make decisions, communicate, and manage effectively.
A pharmacist whose leadership role is to be recognized must have vision and the ability to lead.
And the added function of:
- The pharmacist must be able to use the evidence base (e.g., scientific, pharmacy practice, health system) effectively in order to advice on the rational use of medicines in the health care team.
By sharing and documenting experiences, the pharmacist can also contribute to the evidence base with the goal of optimizing patient care and outcomes. As a researcher, the pharmacist is able to increase the accessibility of 17 unbiased health and medicines-related information to the public and other health care professionals.
What Do Pharmacists Do?
Pharmacists in Korea are working not only in pharmacies but also in numerous practice sites to choose from, once you are a licensed pharmacist. The responsibilities of pharmacists are expanding
and the scope of them will be expanded when the educational system of the college of pharmacy is changed to 6-year course in 2009. This is a brief summary of the fields that most pharmacists are
- Community pharmacy
- Many of pharmacists in Korea are working for a community pharmacy. Their working place could be located in a neighborhood, medical buildings, or in large department stores. Community pharmacies are usually critical to ensuring that patients receive optimal drug therapy as the first contact in the health care system. Pharmacists in community pharmacies offer opportunities to interact with patients and help them to achieve their desired quality of life. These pharmacists are frequently considered to be important members of their communities and are involved in local health-related activities through public speaking and local politics.
- Hospitals and Other Institutions
- Many Korean pharmacists are employed in hospitals and related health institutions. Their role is critical to ensuring that patients in hospitals, frequently on complicated and potentially toxic medications, receive safe and effective therapy. This practice area offers opportunities to interact with other health professionals, the potential for significant intervention in patient care and the chance to be involved in research and education. Pharmacists who work in hospitals are effective members of the health care team and are actively involved in upgrading their education and knowledge base.
Many of them specialize in fields such as oncology, infectious disease, psychiatry, etc.
- Pharmacists in an industry are very important because they are working to discover, develop, manufacture and market prescription and nonprescription medicines, providing challenging environments where pharmacists can utilize their skills and education and make valuable contributions to a society. Therefore, their positions are very different from sales and marketing to clinical research to professional relations opportunities. Usually, pharmacists in industry are to research and decide the marketability of the drugs at a marketing team of pharmaceutical companies, to service as a certified pharmacist of quality control and to manage and administer the whole manufacturing process in pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. Also they are making efforts to improve the quality of existing products and to develop a new drug at affiliated research centers. Some of pharmacists are carrying out the duties related with the storage, administration (narcotics related duties etc.) and taking in and out of drugs at a wholesaler of pharmaceuticals.
- Pharmacists in government are working for the pharmaceutical affairs and policy for the health care. They also deal with the laws affecting drug products and pharmacy practice. They work for public health centers or relative governments or for the authorized licensing bodies responsible for ensuring that pharmacists practice according to the law. These licensing bodies exist to protect the public.
- Education and Research
- Pharmacists in universities or research centers usually have advanced degrees such as a Master's Degree or Doctor of Pharmacy. They are involved in teaching, research and community service in their fields. Pharmacy professors have the opportunities for developing the pharmacists of future. In 2009, the Colleges of Pharmacy in Korea are changing their curriculums from 4 years programs to 6 years programs. Then the Korean pharmaceutical education program will be better and more professionalized.
- Other Opportunities
- Pharmacists apply their education and knowledge in various fields, such as specialized lawyers, journalists or consultants, activists in NGOs, or they may work for international organizations related health care sectors like WHO or FIP.