Retail Pharmacist Responsibilities and Career Facts

Retail pharmacists help patients with their medication needs by answering questions and filling prescriptions. Learn more about job duties, education and licensing requirements as well as job outlook info. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Retail phamacists typically work in pharmacies or drugstores (individual or larger retailer) dispensing prescription medications and completing necessary insurance documentation in order to fill them. A Doctor of Phamacy (Pharm.D.) is required for this job as is continuing education once in the field. The outlook for employment of pharmacists in the near future is good as there is a currently a shortage or them in the industry.

Job Duties Dispensing prescription medications, consulting with physicians and patients, completing insurance paperwork
Education A Pharm.D is required (4 year professional degree), as is successful completion of the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX), and continuing education once working.
Career Outlook Good outlook for future employment with a median salary of over $120,000.

What Are the Main Responsibilities of a Retail Pharmacist?

Retail pharmacists dispense drugs and provide other clinical services for patients. In rare cases, pharmacists may be required to create drug compounds to fulfill prescriptions. Today, however, pharmaceutical manufacturers rarely distribute drugs in raw form, opting to provide specific dosages and varieties of both generic and brand name drugs.

As a retail pharmacist, you will work in an independent pharmacy or a drugstore that is part of a larger retail environment, such as a department or grocery store. Though your main duties include drug dispensing, you will also consult with physicians and their assistants, as well as with patients, to manage a prescription program or provide general health care information.

Completing third-party insurance billing paperwork will also occupy your workday. You may also take part in general managerial tasks, including maintaining an office and supervising pharmacy technicians and other employees.

What Type of Education and Licensure Do I Need?

You will need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited university before you can work as a pharmacist. Your education will consist of general life sciences courses, with specific coursework in chemistry and medicine. You may take courses in pharmacology, pharmacy legal issues and retail pharmacy management.

To become a pharmacist, you are required to successfully complete the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX); also, most states will require you to take the Multi-state Pharmacist Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE). Both exams are issued by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

Continuing training and education is also required in most states. Professional organizations such as the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and the American Society of Health System Pharmacists offer continuing education options that allow you to maintain licensure.

What Is the Career Outlook for Pharmacists?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected employment for pharmacists to increase by 14% between 2012 and 2022, exceeding the national average (www.bls.gov).

A 2009 study entitled the Pharmacy Manpower Project, conducted in partnership by members of several professional associations, determined that pharmacists in general spend 55% of their workday dispensing medications, 16% consulting or providing clinical patient care and another 14% performing administrative or managerial duties (www.aacp.org). In the future, according to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, additional emphasis will be placed on providing clinical care for patients as opposed to traditional medication dispensing (www.nacds.org).

Although pharmacists earn a median annual salary, according to 2014 BLS data, of $120,950, the Pharmacy Manpower project predicts that the industry could see a shortfall of 157,000 pharmacists by the year 2020, ensuring that it will continue to be an in-demand occupation.

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