There are many different career paths in the pharmaceutical industry. These health care providers are involved in a wide range of responsibilities. There is a huge variety in roles and opportunities, which means a lot of exciting options for pharmacy students entering the work world.

One career path is the route of many hospital or community pharmacists who dispense prescriptions and are more directly involved in patient care. There are also paths that are involved in research and development aspects. With a range of specialties and job focusses, there are appealing job choices for all pharmacists.

Pharmacy School

In Canada, for a pharmacy technician, a pharmacy degree is not strictly needed; however, employment trends are leaning towards needing college or university education or training. You can get a certificate or diploma in a pharmacy program, or the necessary training may be completed on the job.

To become a licensed pharmacist, a Canadian university bachelor's degree in Pharmacy is required. Canada has universities which offer pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences programs. Pharmacy graduates may also go on to Master’s Degrees and Doctorate Degrees, for those wishing to take their careers further.

Pharmacy Career Path Options in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmacy Assistants

Pharmacy assistants are supervised by pharmacy technicians and pharmacists. They are involved in the administrative aspects of a pharmacy, including greeting patients or taking phone calls, managing cash, stocking shelves, and more. They work with physicians to help fill prescriptions by counting pill medication, labelling bottles and other such supervised work. They will also check a patient’s medical history, coordinating with doctors’ offices on behalf of the pharmacist. They are also able to administer flu vaccines.

Pharmacy Technicians

Technicians assist, and are supervised by pharmacists. Many people start a career in pharmacy as a technician. Their exact duties will vary depending on their setting. Many technicians' roles are assisting a retail pharmacist in the community pharmacy setting, but there are technician positions in all areas of pharmacy.

Community Pharmacist

Community pharmacies include the front-facing pharmacies that people are most familiar with. Community pharmacists' work involves dispensing medicines and advising and educating people on their prescriptions, including drug risks and interactions. They ensure doses are correct. They help people with over-the-counter medicine options, and are involved with administering vaccinations and health checks, like cholesterol and blood pressure checks. They are often called retail pharmacists because of their retail pharmacy setting.

There are opportunities for promotion and career in this area; some retail pharmacists go on to become pharmacy managers and take on administration roles.

Clinical Pharmacist

A clinical pharmacist works with a team of health professionals to maximize the efficacy of medicines and promote the best use of them, to help create the best results. As part of clinical pharmacy, they provide expertise on drug information, and monitor medicines and treatments for drug safety, effectiveness, and any drug related problems. A clinical pharmacist may notice certain medicines are not effective in certain situations or cases, and make recommendations. Clinical pharmacists will also be involved in advising on potential drug interactions or adverse reactions.

Industry Pharmacist

An industrial pharmacist is involved more in the business or research side of drugs and medications. They may work in sales for one of the pharmaceutical companies, to educate healthcare professionals about products the company offers and can be actively involved in the marketing and sales area of their company at various levels.

Alternately, these pharmacists can find roles with a research and development or production focus, including the development of drugs, production of drugs, quality control, and even packaging factors for optimal storage of the medications. They may be involved in clinical trials and testing activities.

Hospital Pharmacists

Hospital pharmacists work alongside medical doctors and other medical professionals in the hospital environment. They often dispense medications from the hospital pharmacy, but they can be involved in monitoring patient progress and preparing them for discharge. They work with the hospital team to oversee and decide on the best medication regimen for each patient. A hospital pharmacist may be involved in preparing IV medicines and may also recommend drugs and medications for a patient given medical history and conditions.

Alternatives and Options

Registered pharmacists have other opportunities, as well. Some will set up their own pharmacy practice. There are mental health pharmacy specialists, amongst other specialized roles. With higher pharmacy degrees, a pharmacist can teach at a pharmacy school. For some with specialized training and specialized knowledge, a career as a military pharmacist or with the government is possible.

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Ricardo Ardiles
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