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Consultant pharmacists wear many hats on the job. They are not only certified as pharmacists, which means they are legally able to dispense prescribed medications, but they also are charged with maintaining knowledge of pharmaceutical laws and advising their employers of needed changes to policy. Many venues use the services of a consultant pharmacist, including long-term care facilities, government agencies, and private hospitals.
Consistent review of government laws pertaining to drugs is an essential function of the typical consultant pharmacist. Within that review, the pharmacist should be able to identify irregularities of medication use, dosage, and potential interactions of patient medication. Review of facility documentation also falls under the supervision of a consultant pharmacist.
Consultant pharmacists are often called to evaluate the effectiveness of various drug therapies, which means they must be skilled at data interpretation. They must also be able to examine clinical data and come to educated conclusions to apply to patient situations. Preparing detailed weekly, monthly, and quarterly reports is included in most consultant pharmacist positions.
Skills required of a pharmacist consultant include analytical and written communication abilities. In addition, the consultant will sometimes be expected to discuss findings with nurses, physicians, and others involved with the facility; therefore, verbal communication skills are desirable. Proficiency with a computer allows the consultant to input and manipulate data.
Quality of service decisions regarding medication are in part dependent on the consultant pharmacist's opinion. Assessments, education, and research studies are tools used by the pharmacist to determine needed improvements. Issues with the dispensing of medication are included in the quality of service discussions.
Typically, consultant pharmacists hold a minimum of a bachelor's degree, though many move forward to obtain a master's degree in the pharmaceutical field. They also become licensed as pharmacists and, once licensed, are expected to maintain continuing education courses on medication development and pharmaceutical law. Facilities sometimes require pharmacy consultant applicants to have worked as a pharmacist as well. Less frequently, pharmacist consultants conduct research and compile the results to share with professionals in the medical field. One example of such research is a medication efficacy study.
The working environment for a pharmacy consultant includes office and clinical settings. In most cases, a pharmacy consultant works day-shift hours, though the hours can be long. Pharmacy consultants sometimes supervise a small staff.