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What Does a Pharmacist Do?

Pharmacists work as partners with other health care professionals to develop and monitor patients' therapeutic plans. Pharmacists advise physicians on the selection, dosages and side effects of medication. Specific tasks include:

  • Verifying the validity of prescriptions and reporting false prescriptions;
  • Determining the identity, purity and strength of medications;
  • Weighing, measuring, and mixing drugs and other medicinal compounds;
  • Dispensing prepared medications; Ensuring that patients understand instructions;
  • Providing consultation to patients; Monitoring the medication therapy of patients;
  • Keeping comprehensive records of all medications dispensed;
  • Storing and preserving biological materials, vaccines, serums and other drugs which may deteriorate;
  • Ordering and maintaining a supply of drugs and other pharmaceutical stock.

How Do I Become a Pharmacist?

Pharmacists must complete a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.), a professional degree program taking about six years to complete after high school. A license to practice pharmacy is required in all states. In order to be eligible for a Virginia license, an applicant should attend an accredited college of pharmacy, pass a state board exam, and have a minimum of 1500 hours of practical experience. At least 300 of these hours must be spent practicing outside of a school of pharmacy’s practical experience program.

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