Pharmacists seeking career opportunities beyond traditional pill-dispensing roles at the local drugstore or hospital have many options available to them. From education and research to pharmaceutical production and consulting, the pharmacy field encompasses many disciplines, all of which relate to knowledge of drug therapies.
Here's a look at some of these pharmacy specialties:
These specialists work in colleges of pharmacy as teachers, researchers and consultants for industry organizations.
An ambulatory pharmacist's responsibility is to manage patients at risk for drug-related problems, such as adverse reactions. They also supervise patients with chronic diseases, including diabetes and asthma, and those unlikely to take their medication or to take it as prescribed. Ambulatory pharmacists work in outpatient clinics, psychiatric wards and in specialties such as HIV or renal transplantation.
Compounding pharmacists prepare customized prescription medications to meet individual patient needs. They also prepare, mix, assemble, package and label drugs and devices.
Also known as long-term-care pharmacists, these professionals make sure residents of extended-care facilities get the correct dose of medication at the right frequency. Consultant pharmacists also work in subacute care, psychiatric hospitals, hospice programs, and in home- and community-based care.
These pharmacists play a major role in hospital intensive-care units, working with lifesaving drugs. They optimize each patient's drug therapy and go on rounds with doctors to ensure patients don't experience adverse reactions. They also help doctors choose the most beneficial, cost-effective medication.
Drug Information Pharmacists
These pharmacists help hospitals answer queries about the best use of drug therapies. They also write and compile articles for scientific journals and continuing-education materials.
Home-care pharmacists are similar to their hospital counterparts in that they prepare medications and educate patients on medication use and storage at home.
This specialty works with medications that include controlled substances prescribed for terminally ill patients. Hospice pharmacists work at hospice agencies or at pharmacies serving hospice patients.
Pharmacists in this specialty oversee all aspects of drug production for pharmaceutical companies. They can specialize in the production of a certain type of drug, such as aerosol or topical medications, tablets or capsules.
Infectious Disease Pharmacists
These professionals work in hospitals to implement decisions regarding use of therapeutic antibiotics, monitor patients and enforce formulary restrictions on antibiotics. A formulary is a list of insurance-approved drugs and their proper dosages.
Within managed-care environments, such as HMOs or pharmacy-benefit management companies, these pharmacists review drug use and are involved in outcomes research, disease management, cost-analysis programs and pharmacy benefit design.
This specialization involves the procurement, compounding, quality assurance, dispensing, distribution and development of radiopharmaceuticals. These pharmacists also monitor patient outcomes and provide information and consultation regarding health and safety issues.
Nutrition Support Pharmacists
These pharmacists design and modify use of nutritional supplements to treat cancer patients, diabetics, pregnant women and others needing special nutrition support.
Oncology pharmacists analyze pharmaceutical aspects of cancer-care programs to ensure optimal results. They also help improve the quality and safety of chemotherapy mixtures by monitoring dosing and administration.
This pharmacy subset specializes in medications used to treat or prevent conditions in children. Pediatric pharmacists often compound medications for specific ages and weights.
These professionals inform physicians about new drugs and promote ethical drug use for pharmaceutical manufacturers.
These pharmacists possess law degrees and deal with issues pertaining to pharmacists' rights and duties. They work in various settings, including hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and corporations.
Pharmacy Benefit Managers
These pharmacists administer prescription drug programs for insurance companies, develop and maintain formularies, contract with pharmacies and negotiate discounts and rebates with drug manufacturers.
Found at poison-control centers, hospitals, universities and consulting firms, these pharmacists answer emergency questions and suggest action plans regarding poisonous chemicals, hazardous toxins or harmful drug interactions.
These pharmacists help optimize drug treatment and care for patients with psychiatric disorders by dispensing medication, conducting patient assessments, recommending treatment plans, monitoring patient response and recognizing adverse drug reactions.
These specialists work at state boards of pharmacy, state education departments and state departments of health.
The US military and US Public Health Service offer additional public-sector career avenues for pharmacists.