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Different Types of Clinical Pharmacists Roles

Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-AdamReviewed on 30.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

There are several different pathways a pharmacist can choose to go through, which is why it is often a prevalent occupation. All pharmacists have to have completed a pharmacy degree and a pre-registration course to ensure all meet a level of competence. There are three main types of pharmacists: community, hospital, and primary care. The former has the most significant number of pharmacists, whereas the latter has the least. However, now more so there has been an increase in the number of primary care pharmacists in GP practices in recent years.

Community Pharmacist

Every pharmacy store currently, such as Boots, requires a pharmacist to operate and open, although this may be changing soon. Community pharmacists are the clinical leads for the pharmacy team. They support the dispensing of medications while ensuring the medicines are safe and efficacious for the patient. This is done by liaising with GP surgeries and local hospitals to ensure patients get the best care. They are the final safety check before the medication enters the patient's hands, making their role vital in their day-to-day lives. Additionally, community pharmacists can help with signs & symptoms of minor illnesses and common problems. They can also recommend treatments or when to be referred to the doctor.

Hospital pharmacist

A pharmacist's role in a hospital used to simply assess the patients in their care, dispense any medication required and ensure the patient understands their medicine. When discharged, they understand what needs to be done.

Now more so, hospital pharmacists are used heavily in the medication decision process for patients, which doctors will double-check. Hospital pharmacists work with the entire hospital team to help make their decision, which is different to what you may see in community pharmacies. Each decision must be made promptly and efficiently and requires significant input. In the same way, a doctor needs to sign off on the pharmacist's work. A pharmacist often double-checks drug charts to ensure they are correct. This minimises the risk of dispensing incorrect medication.

They also have an essential role in medicine information; if there are any queries about medication, this will be passed over to the pharmacist to research and resolve. The final role of pharmacists is to discharge patients with the correct medication and discharge notes so that their local GP practice can adapt to the new changes and continue their role from there.

Primary care pharmacist

There are two types of primary care pharmacists:

  1. Works in one primary care (GP) practice.
  2. Works in a region of primary care network (PCN) practices.

Both roles are very similar. However, the PCN pharmacist can often have a specific function, whereas the pharmacist working in a single GP practice will be required to perform many roles.

Primary care pharmacists are the lead for medication in primary care. This will include queries, safety issues and monitoring requirements. With this, the main roles involved are providing expertise in clinical medicines reviews and addressing patients' public health and social needs in GP practices. Also, medicine optimisation and dealing with discharges from hospitals. They often will liaise with pharmacists and other healthcare professionals in the hospital and community with queries.

Often will run medication clinics such as anticoagulant clinics to ensure their medication is safe and functioning. They act as a source of medical information for all of the practice team and patients. Undertake minor ailments triage: dealing with minor illnesses and triaging patients appropriately. If they have completed their prescribing course, they can do all of the above and prescribe appropriate medications.

Prescribing pharmacist

All three types of pharmacists can become prescribing pharmacists. This requires an additional course post-registration. They must have two years of experience before attempting and completing the course. Once finished, they can prescribe all medication like a doctor. However, it is only recommended to prescribe within their competence. Therefore, this qualification allows pharmacists to work in GP practices or privately and lead clinics where they will respond to symptoms and make an informed decision to choose which medication to prescribe.

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Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed by Mohommed Essop-Adam
Reviewed on 30.10.2023
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