What Can I Do With a Pharmacy Degree?


June 29, 2018
By Jiehyun Lee, PharmD, BCACP, CACP

Did you know that one of the common misconceptions about pharmacists is that they only work in a community or hospital pharmacy? This could not be further from the reality. Once a person has earned his or her pharmacy degree, the sky is the limit in possible career options. Below is a short list of the many potential career options that are possible with a pharmacy degree.

  1. Community pharmacists: the traditional nature of these pharmacists’ daily activities is in dispensing medications for people in an outpatient setting, but the role has been expanding to include patient care activities, such as immunization, basic evaluation of symptoms, blood pressure and diabetes screenings. They may work at:
    1. Chain community pharmacy (i.e. Walgreens, Walmart)
    2. Independent community pharmacy (a single store with a sole proprietor or several stores owned by an individual or small group)
    3. Mail order pharmacy (i.e. CVS Caremark, ExpressScripts)
    4. Specialty pharmacy (dispensing medications for specific rare, but life-threatening conditions, such as cancer, Hepatitis C virus infection, and hemophilia)
  2. Ambulatory care pharmacists: they provide direct patient care for chronic medical conditions (i.e. diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol) in outpatient clinics, such as:
    1. Hospital-based clinic (i.e. Veterans Administration outpatient clinic)
    2. Community-based clinic (i.e. federally qualified healthcare center, indigent clinic)
    3. Private medical office
  3. Compounding pharmacists: their focus is on preparing customized dosage forms to meet an individual patient’s needs, such as medications that are not commercially available, medications that are not stable, or altered commercially available medications.
  4. Inpatient pharmacists: they manage patients who are acutely sick in the hospital by dispensing, managing, and monitoring of medications within the hospital.
  5. Clinical specialists: they provide patient care, focusing on specific clinical specialty, and are considered clinical experts in their specialty areas. The specialties include, but not limited to:
    1. Ambulatory care (chronic conditions in outpatient setting)
    2. Cardiology (heart related diseases)
    3. Infectious disease
    4. Critical care (in setting such as ICU)
    5. Nutrition support
    6. Pediatrics (babies, children and adolescents)
    7. Psychology (mental health)
    8. Geriatrics (senior adults)
  6. Long-term care pharmacists: they can practice in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities, or as independent consultants to provide pharmaceutical services.
  7. Pharmaceutical industry: pharmacists can work for pharmaceutical companies as medical liaison, or in research and development, or in sale and marketing.
  8. Nuclear pharmacists: they are considered clinical specialists, who handle radioactive drugs at nuclear specialty pharmacy to diagnose or treat specific disease states.
  9. Laws and regulations: pharmacists in this field are concerned with regulatory affairs (i.e. FDA) and population impact of pharmacy law.
  10. Academia: with different backgrounds, such as clinical pharmacy practice, pharmaceutical science, and economic, social, and administrative sciences, pharmacist faculty will focus on teaching and developing future pharmacists.

This is not an exhaustive list, but a shortened version of the list with brief description for each career path. For more information, please check out APhA’s Career Option Profiles for more information.