Over the decades, pharmacy profession has expanded and diversified greatly. Today, it is not limited to hospitals and retails but has a different scenario altogether. The pharmacy profession has got several areas which had lead to enhanced way of serving patients and had become more challenging. And, to reach that stage, pharmacy course is the starting point.
Pharmacy courses are designed to teach students all aspects of drug therapy in addition to patient care, communication with both patients and health care providers. It also focuses on professional ethics, business management and concept of public health. Additionally, students of pharmacy can gain real world experience working with licensed pharmacist in several settings.
Today pharmacy includes clinical services, providing drug information and reviewing, compounding and dispensing medication.
Pharmacy is a diverse and rewarding career, with opportunities for patient care, scientific research and innovation. Pharmacists can work in a myriad of professional settings. The majority of pharmacists (45 percent) work in an independent or retail chain community pharmacy and provide counseling to patients on the use of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Pharmacists work in numerous other healthcare environments as well, including hospitals, nursing homes, managed care organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, colleges and schools and the federal government. Pharmacists play key leadership roles in all aspects of the healthcare system.
Pharmacists play a key role in helping patients feel better and get well as quickly as possible. Patients do best when pharmacists are part of their healthcare teams because pharmacists are the medication specialists. Pharmacists improve medication adherence. They are culturally competent healthcare providers who communicate effectively to evaluate many factors that affect a patient’s ability to take a medication. These include diet, lifestyle, transportation, language barriers and much more.
Some of the main pharmacy specializations you can expect to encounter include:
The field of pharmacology is the study of how drugs interact with a living body. Within pharmacology, topics could include learning about the therapeutic and toxic effects of different drugs and poisons; drug absorption and how drugs interact with different foods and nutrients; and methods of drug delivery and targeting. It’s also possible to take an entire degree program devoted to the study of pharmacology.
● Clinical practice
A major focus of most pharmacy degrees, clinical practice courses aim to prepare students to provide care directly to patients, including diagnoses, prescriptions, advice, and good all-round communication and support. As well as learning how to approach a range of different types of health issue and gaining a strong foundation in pharmaceutical care and therapeutics, students may also study current national frameworks governing the provision of pharmacy services, and may have the opportunity to gain some practical experience.
● Microbiology & immunology
Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms – important within pharmacy, as these microbes can cause illnesses. Within microbiology, further specializations include virology (the study of viruses), bacteriology (the study of bacteria) and mycology (the study of fungi). Microbiology is often taught alongside immunology; this is the study of the immune system, including diseases resulting from failures of the immune system, the use of immunotherapy, and the relationship between the immune system and stages of life such as pregnancy and early development.
● Drug development
Another important field of pharmacy is drug development – the study of the processes involved in creating new drugs and bringing them to market. This may include learning how to conduct pre-clinical research and various stages of clinical trials, as well as studying relevant manufacturing and commercial processes, regulatory issues and assessing financial viability. This field is closely aligned with pharmaceutical chemistry, which is concerned with the chemical side of new drug development.
● Pharmaceutical technology
The field of pharmaceutical technology, offered by some universities as a master’s level specialization, focuses on the various modern technologies used in the pharmaceutical sector. This is likely to include opportunities for hands-on experience of the equipment and processes used in drug development, as well as learning about the evolving demands and challenges facing the growing global pharmaceutical industry.
● Obesity & weight management
You could also specialize in obesity and weight management, with some universities now offering this as a separate master’s degree. Here you’ll study all aspects of obesity, from the individual level through to the problem in its large-scale social context. You’ll learn about various strategies for weight management interventions, policy formulation and implementation. This specialization could lead to a career in a governmental agency or local authority, public health body, or in the commercial sector developing new products and programs.
Why to choose Pharmacy as a career?
Pharmacists work with other health care professionals to maximize health outcomes. Numerous studies have proven that the presence of a pharmacist on hospital rounds as a full member of the patient care team has been shown to prevent medication errors and reduce costs. Pharmacists provide optimal management of medication for chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, etc. The collaboration of healthcare professionals, such as physicians and pharmacists, can help to ensure that patients properly take their medications as prescribed and avoid any harmful effects.
One of the many exciting developments in the pharmacy profession is the growth of a discipline, known as pharmacogenomics. Genetic variations in genes can affect a body’s response to a drug. In the future, specialists in this area hope to sequence the entire human gene in each individual. Pharmacists and other healthcare providers will be able to use that information to select the best medicines, treat diseases earlier than now possible, or prevent them entirely with individually-tailored drug therapies.
State-of-the-Art Technology in Pharmacy
Digital innovations in pharmacy include electronic prescriptions, robotics for central prescription processing and nationwide prescription monitoring programs, as well as pharmaceutical research. These technological advances enhance efficiency and help to promote patient safety. Pharmacists use these same tools to help prioritize work, manage the dispensing process and spend more time with patients. By law, pharmacists must oversee automated dispensing processes for quality control purposes. Pharmacists can provide innovative approaches to medication management, including recommended therapies, and the identification and resolution of problems with the aid of state-of-the-art technology.