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Becoming a Pharmacist: The Responsibilities of a Pharmacist

What Do Pharmacists Do?

Pharmacists serve patients and the community by providing information and advice on health, providing medications and associated services, and by referring patients to other sources of help and care, such as physicians, when necessary. Likewise, advances in the use of computers in pharmacy practice now allow pharmacists to spend more time educating patients and maintaining and monitoring patient records. As a result, patients have come to depend on the pharmacist as a health care and information resource of the highest caliber.

Pharmacists, in and out of the community pharmacy, are specialists in the science and clinical use of medications. They must be knowledgeable about the composition of drugs, their chemical and physical properties, and their manufacture and uses, as well as how products are tested for purity and strength. Additionally, a pharmacist needs to understand the activity of a drug and how it will work within the body. More and more prescribers rely on pharmacists for information about various drugs, their availability, and their activity, just as patrons do when they ask about nonprescription medications.

Professional Commitment

The principal goal of pharmaceutical care is to achieve positive outcomes from the use of medication which improves patients' quality of life. These outcomes include:

  • cure of a disease;
  • elimination or reduction of symptoms;
  • arresting or slowing a disease process;
  • prevention of disease;
  • diagnosis of disease; and
  • desired alterations in physiological processes, all with minimum risk to patients.

Pharmacists are professionals, uniquely prepared and available, committed to public service and to the achievement of this goal.

†Excerpted from a booklet entitled "Shall I study Pharmacy?" published by the American Association of the Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP).

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