Top 10 Reasons to Become a Pharmacist


May 17, 2018
By Kimberly L. Barefield, PharmD, MHA and Shirin Madzhidova, PharmD

1. Improving patient outcomes

Medication adherence and compliance is one of the many patient outcomes that pharmacists have an immense impact on. Half of all patients with chronic diseases do not take their medications as prescribed. Pharmacists play an important role in achieving positive health outcomes, such as fewer hospitalizations, less disease progression and fewer co-morbidities, by being accessible and building relationships with patients. Pharmacists in the field of research also utilize retrospective data to identify and assess target patient populations who are not appropriately adherent or compliant with their medications.

2. Community involvement

Pharmacists play a key role in helping patients feel better and are an integral part of every community. According to recent Gallup Polls, pharmacists’ honesty and ethics were rated highly by a large majority of Americans. Pharmacists are the most accessible health professionals and are visible leaders in most communities. This is why it is PCOM’s college of pharmacy’s mission “to educate and train caring, competent and proactive generalist pharmacists who contribute to the health and well-being of the residents and to support the needs of the underserved of Georgia, the Southeast region and society at-large." Our faculty and students uphold this mission by participating in health fairs and brown bag events throughout our communities.

3. Diversity of career options

The variety of career opportunities within the field of pharmacy is very diverse. While the majority of pharmacists (45 percent) work in an independent or retail chain community pharmacy, many others have explored or created new opportunities for themselves. Various healthcare environments for pharmacists include but are not limited to managed care organizations, hospitals, nursing homes, the pharmaceutical industry, colleges and the federal government. Pharmacists work in direct patient care, research, and as part of the legislative process advancing our profession forward. Pharmacists play key leadership roles in all aspects of the healthcare system.

4. Being a part of the healthcare team

Pharmacists work with other health care professionals to improve health outcomes and ensure the continuity of care. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of having a pharmacist on hospital rounds and in ambulatory care settings, to prevent medication errors and reduce costs. The role of pharmacists in the ambulatory care setting is continuously expanding. With the advent of accountable care organizations, pharmacists are now playing a role in reducing hospital readmission rates, chronic disease management and medication therapy management. They are not only part of the medical care team but are also participating in clinics, seeing and counseling patients. MTM is conducted not only in person, but also through telephonic communications as we are advancing into the digital world.

5. Growth potential

Many exciting developments are taking place in the pharmacy profession, including specialty pharmacy, discipline of pharmacogenomics and digital advancements like artificial intelligence. Specialty medications, like biosimilars, are becoming a big part of the pharmaceutical industry and specialty pharmacies are flourishing as demand increases. Same goes for increase in personalized healthcare expansion using genetic testing for genome sequencing and selecting medications based on the patient’s DNA. Furthermore, pharmacy schools are advancing their educational tools to meet the needs of their current students. By using ‘e-Patient’ simulation tools and artificial intelligence, schools are training the next generation of pharmacy professionals.

6. Autonomy

Pharmacist have the advantage of professional autonomy in choosing their work environment and work hours. Pharmacists are able to redefine their roles in the healthcare setting in order to provide optimal patient care. As healthcare practice becomes more interdisciplinary, the role of a pharmacist continues to change offering greater opportunities in patient care. As an integral part of the health care team pharmacist support clinicians by ensuring patient medication safety and efficacy. There is also the ability to start your own business and establish healthcare services for patients.

7. Flexibility

Nontraditional work schedules are an advantage to a career in pharmacy that creates a work-life balance. Pharmacists are needed everywhere in the country in many different types of capacities, making it easier to find a position that will fit your lifestyle. There are day shifts, night shifts, 7-on/7-off shifts and longer shifts (10 to 12 hours) which allows for more time off from work. Flexibility in pharmacist work schedules and job description are becoming popular to enhance requirement and retention. In addition, there are becoming more opportunities for pharmacist to work remotely from home providing 24 hour inpatient services for community hospitals and remote verification for mail-order pharmacies.

8. Career stability

The profession of pharmacy is expected, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to experience six percent employment growth by the year 2026 leading to an increase by 17,600 new jobs in the field. Americans are living longer and over the next decade with the patient population, increasing in age there will continue to be a demand for pharmacy services. U.S. News ranked a career in pharmacy as #23 in Best Healthcare Jobs based upon salary, stress and unemployment rate.

9. Mentor future pharmacists

A benefit of becoming a pharmacist is being able to help others, not only patients and other healthcare professionals. As a pharmacist, we are able to mentor future pharmacists assisting in career paths and choosing pharmacy as a career. No matter the setting of practice, all pharmacists promote enhancing the knowledge of future pharmacists and recent graduates through their knowledge and experience. A 2010 ACCP White Paper cited that mentoring of pharmacy students and junior staff in the workplace are considered a reward and motivator for pharmacists.

10. Consistent growth in professional knowledge

A requirement of licensure is that all pharmacists must meet a mandatory state requisite for Continuing Education credits. This ensures that all pharmacists remain knowledgeable about new treatment guidelines and recent medications approved for treatment. Many employers help to fund meeting this education requirement through support attending professional meetings.