As of May 2006 the average monthly wage of a pharmacist working in the United States was £5,119. That translates to an average yearly salary of £61,438. According to the US Department of Labor the middle 50 per cent of pharmacists earn between £53,950 and £7,020 a year. The upper 10 per cent earn more than £77,350 a year, while the lower 10 per cent gross just short of £44,200.
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Pharmacists play a critical role in health care. They are responsible for safely and accurately filling prescription drug orders as directed by physicians and other health care practitioners licensed to prescribe medications. In addition to ensuring the accuracy of a patient's medication, pharmacists also check for possible drug interactions and counsel their patients on the correct use of their medications.
Pharmacists who work in retail pharmacies are known as community pharmacists. Community pharmacists offer advice to their patients on a wide range of health care topics, including information on over-the-counter medication, cough and cold remedies, and chronic conditions such as diabetes or asthma. Many retail pharmacists are also trained to administer routine vaccinations such as annual flu shots.
Many pharmacists practice in clinical settings such as hospitals. These pharmacists work closely with other medical personnel and offer advice on selection and use of drugs for hospitalised patients.
Other pharmacists choose to work in a wide variety of settings, including insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, or university settings where they teach and conduct research on a wide variety of topics.
Pharmacists spend long hours standing on their feet. Usually their work areas are very clean and bright and have good air circulation.
Pharmacists are usually salaried employees who work around 40 hours a week. Because most pharmacies, including hospitals, operate with extended hours, pharmacists are often required to work evenings, weekends and some holidays.
In order to practice pharmacy, pharmacists must be licensed by the state in which they work. To obtain a pharmacist license candidates must also possess a degree from an accredited college of pharmacy.
Today most pharmacists earn the Pharm. D. or Doctor of Pharmacy degree. The Pharm. D. has replaced the traditional bachelor's degree, which is no longer offered in the United States.
Most applicants who are admitted to a college of pharmacy have completed three years of undergraduate work. Many colleges also require candidates for their pharmacy program to complete the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) prior to admission to their program.
Once enrolled in an accredited pharmacy school, students study a wide variety of subjects which cover all aspects of drug therapy. Students also learn about professional ethics, business practice, pharmacy law and get experience working in practice settings under the supervision of licensed pharmacists and other health care professionals.
Combined with the prerequisite undergraduate courses, it takes most students at least six years to earn their Pharm. D.
According to the US Department of Labor, employment for pharmacists is expected to rapidly increase through 2016.
As the population in the United States continues to age, demand for prescription drugs will also increase dramatically. This, coupled with the growing trend of utilising pharmacists in other areas, such as administering vaccines, will only improve the job outlook for new graduates.
Pharmacists who practice in community settings usually begin their careers as staff pharmacists. Once they gain experience, they may be promoted to pharmacy manager and later district or regional manager supervising a number of stores.
Hospital pharmacists may be promoted to administrative or supervisory positions or may choose to concentrate on a specific area or speciality including paediatrics, oncology or infectious diseases.
Pharmacists who work for pharmaceutical companies can advance to higher positions in areas of marketing, research, teaching or sales.
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