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What does a Hospital Pharmacist do?

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  • Written By: Lily Ruha
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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A hospital pharmacist fills drug prescriptions and prepares intravenous sterile solutions. The role of a pharmacist in a hospital setting generally includes advising medical personnel on drug effects and monitoring patient drug regimens through the use of computerized systems. In some cases, a hospital pharmacist will advise patients on drug usage before hospital discharge. To become a hospital pharmacist, an individual must possess a university degree and a pharmacy license. Succeeding as a hospital pharmacist requires scientific aptitude, a desire to assist others, and a detail-oriented mindset.

The main responsibility of a hospital pharmacist is to dispense medications based on doctors’ prescriptions. In some settings, hospital pharmacists also interact closely with medical personnel, advising them on the dosages and effects of medications. Some hospital pharmacists have direct patient contact and explain important information to patients about their medications prior to their discharge. In most cases, pharmacists who work in hospitals are required to keep track of patients’ drug treatments and possible drug conflicts through the use of computerized systems.

Some hospital pharmacists specialize in a drug therapy area. In the oncology department of a hospital, for example, the work of a pharmacist may center on preparing solutions such as chemotherapy. A pharmacist in a psychiatric hospital may be an expert in the drugs used to treat a variety of mental disorders. In long-term intensive care hospitals, a pharmacist may have specialized knowledge about intravenous methods of providing adequate nutrition.

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To work as a hospital pharmacist, a pharmacy degree is needed along with a pharmacy license. A Doctor of Pharmacy degree is typically earned after completing a four-year program. To be admitted to such a program, applicants need to have completed two years of general academic coursework, including courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. A one- to two-year pharmacy residency in a clinical setting is typically required for those wanting to work in a hospital setting. After completing the degree and the residency, a license must be obtained, which generally requires passing several exams.

A pharmacist who works in a hospital must possess specific characteristics to succeed in his job. He must be conscientious and detail-oriented to prevent any life-threatening mistakes. A general desire to help people is necessary, along with interpersonal skills that involve communicating clearly and listening carefully. An aspiring pharmacist must also have an aptitude for mastering the scientific principles involved in the degree coursework and in the dispensing of medications. In hospital settings where the pharmacist oversees other pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, he must possess the ability to manage people and processes.

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