Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Last Updated: 21 May 18:21 PM IST
16 June 2011
Working as a pharmacist reaps its many rewards, says naveen gupta
FOR those pursuing a career as a pharmacist, there are many options. Most people think a pharmacist stands behind counter waiting to fill in prescriptions at a drug store or grocery. While retail pharmacy is a common career choice, there are many more options available for those who have completed their PharmD degree and the necessary licensure requirements. Although there are a variety of practice settings, the compensation remains relatively consistent across all of these employment options, with minor variations according to hours worked.
Retail pharmacy/chemists and druggists: In medical retail stores, a pharmacist prepares and dispenses drugs on prescriptions to general consumers. With the growing availability of pre-packaged doses, a pharmacist monitors drug sale on the basis of prescriptions and dosages, and gives over-the-counter advice on how to use prescribed drugs. In the retail sector, pharmacists run chemist’s shops As medical representatives, they inform and educate medical practitioners on the potential uses of a drug or health product and its administration along with the side effects or precautions for its use. The job entails regular visits to medical practitioners, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and health centres. There is usually a lot of touring to be done.
Hospital pharmacy: The primary role of a hospital pharmacist is to provide medication and allied management services to patients who are hospitalised or are visiting hospital-based clinics, and to provide medication services to health professionals who tend patients in hospital settings.
Hospital pharmacists have exposure to many complicated and unique therapy needs, including intravenous medication therapy, nutrition and the specific needs of newborns and the elderly. Pharmacists in the practice find working with other health professionals, work variety and focused clinical care opportunity rewarding. This is the second most common practice area.
Industrial pharmacy: While most firms are involved in the production of preformulated preparations, a growing number of companies are developing new formulations through autonomous research work. Industrial pharmacists carry out clinical trials, where drugs are tested for safety and effectiveness, and work in research and development to develop new formulations. The production job entails management and supervision of the production process, packaging, storage and delivery work in marketing, sales and quality control.
In addition to the many opportunities for graduates in the many areas of pharmacy practice, there are increasing numbers of opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry in advanced and specialised areas, as the depth and breadth of education in pharmacy increases opportunities. This includes the promotion of pharmaceuticals to health professionals, marketing, development of new drugs and dosage forms, clinical studies in patients, monitoring pharmaceutical use on a population scale and managing regulatory and legal issues.
Government services: Pharmacists are hired within Central and state government departments — the Health Protection Branch of the Department of Health and Welfare, the Pest Control Division of Agriculture, the Department of National Defence, Provincial Research Councils, and the Provincial Departments of Agriculture or the Environment. There are also employment opportunities within the food and cosmetic industries or within any other industry that requires the assurance that new products are as safe and effective as possible. In government departments, a pharmacist maintains proper records according to various government acts governing the profession of pharmacy.
Pharmaceutical education: Many pharmacists find rewards as faculty in colleges of pharmacy. These pharmacists enjoy influencing the future of the industry by educating future pharmacists and they may participate in direct patient care and/or scientific research as well. Academic pharmacist practice has its rewards in disseminating and discovering new ideas that change medication use, pharmacist practices and health care policy. The pharmacist faculty find their careers to be pleasant in their interaction with people, especially students, and provide them with the flexibility to pursue their own ideas.
Nuclear pharmacy: Nuclear pharmacists are responsible for measuring and delivering radioactive materials that are used in digital imaging (MRI, CT, etc) and other procedures in medical offices and hospitals. Due to the nature of the radioactive materials and how these are handled, nuclear pharmacists are typically required to start each work day very early, sometimes pre-dawn, as the radioactive materials must be delivered within a few hours of their use, or they lose their effectiveness.
Clinical research: Recently, clinical research has also opened its doors for B.Pharm graduates as medical underwriters, CROs, data validation associates, clinical research associates, etc. The clinical research associate plays the important role of monitoring and overseeing the conducting of clinical trials, which are carried out on healthy human volunteers. They have to see the trials meet international guidelines and national regulatory requirements.
Community pharmacy: The primary role of a community pharmacist is to provide medication and medication-related services to patients. In most settings, pharmacists provide prescription drug services to their community of patients, working with patients and a broad spectrum of health care providers to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Quality control and analysis: The pharmacy graduate can play a crucial role in controlling product quality as an analytical chemist or a quality control manager. The Drug and Cosmetics Act (1945), Rules 71(1) and 76(1), says that manufacturing activity should be taken up under the supervision of a technical man whose qualification should be BPharm, BSc, BTech or medicine with Biochemistry.
Research and development: New and expanding knowledge in health care and biomedical sciences provides tremendous opportunities for the pursuit of research careers for pharmacists. Graduates with a PharmD degree can pursue a research career directly or pursue additional education either in the form of residency and fellowship training or in formal graduate programmes leading to MS and PhD degrees.
With a clinical focus, one can be involved in the conduct and analysis of largescale human drug studies in academic, industrial, and government settings. Pharmacists are also highly qualified to pursue additional training in business, public health or pharmaceutical socio-economics in order to become involved in research in drug utilisation, health care outcomes and the provision of pharmacy services.
Sales and marketing: Ambitious achievers with a pleasant personality and good communications skills can opt for the job of medical sales representative. Companies prefer pharmacy graduates for this job, as they have a good knowledge about the drug molecules, their therapeutic effects and drug-drug interactions
Some job portals to help students easily identify various opportunities: www.timesjobs.com/aos/24132/pharmacy-jobs.html; www.indeed.co.in/; www.pharmacyjob.com/; www.pharmacy.org/jobs/jobavail.html; www.naukrihub.com/pharmaceutical-jobs/ www.shine.com/Pharma; www.india.recruit.net/search-pharmacist-jobs; and www.jobsearch.naukri.com/pharma-biotech-jobs.
The writer is CEO, IEC Group of Institutions, Greater Noida