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Pharmacists: Qualifications, Knowledge and Roles

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

A pharmacist is a health care professional that has expert knowledge in medicines. Pharmacists in the UK complete at least four years at university, a one-year work placement, and pass a registration exam set by the governing body. Throughout their studies and work, pharmacists will have learnt about illnesses, medicines used to treat them, and the law required to safely and lawfully oversee the handling and use of medicines.

A pharmacist is a final checkpoint between a medicine prescribed by a doctor and the patient. They will know how medicines work in the body, how you should take them, and be trained to spot any errors in the medication you are prescribed. This includes dosing errors or any interactions it will have with other medicines you take.

Different pharmacist roles

In a community pharmacy, a pharmacist is usually responsible for the safe and legal running of the pharmacy. A pharmacist can advise you about the medications you are prescribed or medications you can buy to treat minor ailments. A pharmacist will clinically screen prescriptions to ensure they are legal and safe. Pharmacists can also be trained to administer flu or travel vaccinations and provide additional services to improve patient health and understand their medicines.

In the hospital, pharmacists may be ward based and are there to screen and check through all medications that patients are on to ensure it Is safe and appropriate. Pharmacists will be involved in multidisciplinary team meetings, talk to patients to gather information and help optimize the medicines they are taking, and answer any other healthcare professionals' queries regarding medicines.

Pharmacists in hospitals may also be involved in clinical trials and audits. Pharmacists in pharmaceutical companies are employed to research and advise on health and pharmaceuticals.

Additional pharmacist roles?

There are an increasing number of non-traditional roles available for pharmacists for their expertise and skill, including the beauty industry, government jobs, and consulting firms. Pharmacists may study further in law to become pharmaceutical patent lawyers. Currently, pharmacists may undertake additional training to become independent prescribers. Pharmacy students will be able to prescribe upon graduation now as well.

How can my pharmacist help me

Your community pharmacist can give you advice or recommend treatments for minor ailments. These are non-urgent and less severe problems, including coughs and colds, constipation, and pain.

"Pharmacy First" is a new scheme in the UK that allows patients to receive treatment for certain minor ailments, which would normally require prescriptions directly from a pharmacist without needing to see a doctor first. It aims to ease pressure on GP services and provide more accessible healthcare to the public.

Under the Pharmacy First scheme, pharmacists can provide treatment for seven common conditions:

Your pharmacist is also trained to provide first aid, and they can help tend to emergencies in the first instance. Your pharmacist can also answer any questions regarding your medicines and help you make an informed decision regarding your health.

This is also true for hospital pharmacists, you can talk to them about any issues or concerns regarding your medicines, and they can help optimizs them for you, for example, by stopping any unnecessary medicines or reducing the number of tablets you take.

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