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A Day in the Life of A Pharmacist

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Are you considering a rewarding career as a pharmacist? Do you want to know more about a day in the life of a pharmacist and what you can expect during a typical shift? If you’re ready to learn more about what it's like to be a pharmacist, read on. 

Typical Pharmacist Responsibilities

A day in the life of a pharmacist involves many different duties, most of which center around patients. When a pharmacist is on shift, they are usually the main person in charge. This means they are responsible for all type of work tasks, including: 

  • Accurately filling and dispensing medications
  • Verifying prescriptions
  • Ordering and distributing medical equipment
  • Managing pharmacy workflow 
  • Giving advice about over-the-counter medications
  • Overseeing day-to-day pharmacy operations 
  • Conducting medication consultations

Even though you may have lots of tasks to complete everyday, the majority of your time will be spent on patient care — a pharmacy can’t function without patients! Let’s take a deeper look into some of a pharmacist’s daily responsibilities.

A woman speaking to a pharmacist

Patient Interactions 

Patients are the heart of any pharmacy and your job as a pharmacist is to ensure that they have a positive interaction every time. One of the best ways to do this is through medication consultations.

When you are working as a pharmacist, you are responsible for making sure each patient gets the right medication and that they understand what they are taking. You need to provide these consultations every time a patient fills a new prescription, although most pharmacists still check in with a patient at every refill. 

A pharmacist discussing a box of medication with a man

During a medication consultation, you need to verify the following information: 

  • The name and description of the medication 
  • How to take the medication 
  • The dosage of the medication 
  • How long to take the medication 

A doctor fills a syringe.

You should also discuss: 

  • What to do with missed doses
  • Common medication side effects

Finally, you need to answer any questions the patient may have. Patients rely on your knowledge and expertise when it comes to their prescription information, so take time to ensure they are comfortable with their medication before leaving the pharmacy. 

Attention to Detail 

One of the most important responsibilities of a pharmacist is to pay attention. You are helping keep people healthy — and sometimes alive — with the medications that you dispense. This means you need laser-like focus to ensure you are pulling the right medication and putting the right dosage information on every prescription. 

Providing the wrong medication or listing an incorrect dosage can potentially lead to severe reactions, medication overdoses, and even death. In the case of a dispensing error, a pharmacist could be held liable for medical malpractice, lose their job, and lose their license. To avoid these issues, careful attention must be paid to every prescription filled. 

Patient Records 

Another daily pharmacist duty is maintaining detailed patient records. These records contain important patient information, including: 

  • Medications prescribed and filled
  • Care provided
  • Prescription adaptations 
  • Adverse medication reactions
  • Allergies
  • Known health conditions 
  • Patient consultation summaries 

Patient records must be maintained and kept up-to-date at all times. This information helps pharmacists make prescription decisions, including whether: 

  • A medication might cause an allergic reaction
  • The medication is appropriate for the patient’s medical history
  • New medication might interact with existing prescriptions 

“Record keeping is part of the office tasks that pharmacists do everyday.”

Record keeping is part of the office work that pharmacists do every day. If records are not updated after a patient visits, their information could be misleading the next time they fill a prescription, which can lead to potential problems. 

Pharmacy Work Hours 

In most cases, a pharmacist can expect to work 40 hours per week. Those hours can cover night shifts, weekends, and even holidays, depending on where you are working. Pharmacy shifts can also vary, with some pharmacists working five 8-hour shifts and others working four 10-hour shifts. Other work hours can vary based on your retail or hospital location. 

Retail Hours vs Hospital Hours 

A retail pharmacy is located within another business — usually a retail store. Stand-alone pharmacies can also be considered retail pharmacies since they sell over-the-counter medications that aren’t pharmacy specific. Retail pharmacies can maintain opening hours that run outside of the host store’s hours, and are usually open 10 hours a day. 

A hospital pharmacy is located within a hospital to fill prescriptions for patients after surgery or for other reasons. Hospital pharmacies are typically open 24/7, so you can expect to work on a rotating schedule with other hospital pharmacists. 

A man and woman taking a selfie in nautre

Locum Pharmacist vs Relief Pharmacist 

When a pharmacist needs to miss multiple shifts, a locum or relief pharmacist is needed. These pharmacists have all the same education, training, and qualifications as regular pharmacists but their hiring contracts are handled differently. 

Locum pharmacists work on a freelance basis, which means they have to contact pharmacies and offer their services to get shift work. Relief pharmacists are partnered with a job-matching site or staffing agency and are matched with jobs via these avenues. 

If you are working as a pharmacist and need time off, consider hiring a locum or relief pharmacist to cover your shifts. You’ll gain peace of mind that licensed, experienced pharmacists are covering the pharmacy and your patients get consistent, uninterrupted service. 

Consider Pharmacy Work 

As a pharmacist, your job can be extremely rewarding as you help others throughout their health journey. You’ll experience a wide variety of situations and interact with different patient groups every day, which helps keep your job exciting and fulfilling.

If you aren’t ready to work as a full-time pharmacist but want to put your pharmacy degree to good use, consider becoming a relief pharmacist. You can sign up with ShiftPosts — the pharmacy matching app that helps pharmacists fill open shifts faster. When you sign up with ShiftPosts, you’ll get relief shifts faster and easier. Start your career as a relief pharmacist by contacting ShiftPosts today. 

Have you finished your profile so you can start picking up shifts in your neighborhood? Click the link below to start seeing the benefits!


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