What Does A Pharmacist Do

Although most of us have taken prescription drugs at some point in our lives, you may often wonder, "What does a pharmacist do?" While all you may see is a little bottle filled with pills, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that a pharmacist does to ensure that your prescription is accurate and that you are aware of any possible side effects.


Before a pharmacist can work in a hospital or behind the counter of your local Walgreens, there's a significant amount of education that must be completed. Although accelerated programs do exist, most pharmacists undergo four years of an undergraduate education (often in a science field). In addition, there are four years necessary to earn a doctorate degree in pharmacy. One of these years usually consists of rotations, where the pharmacy student experiences different aspects of the field. The education may not be as extensive as a medical doctor, however it is still rigorous and challenging for most.

After College, What Does A Pharmacist Do?

Once a pharmacy student earns his or her degree in pharmacy, there are several options available for careers. The one you most commonly see are retail pharmacists, who work at stores such as Walgreens or CVS. Additionally, pharmacists may work in hospitals along side doctors (to help with the administration of drugs) or in a research and development capacity, to bring new drugs to market. As you can see, there are a wide variety of options for the graduating pharmacy student.

In Terms of Actual Job Activities, What Does A Pharmacist Do?

On the surface, the basic role of the pharmacist is to dispense prescription drugs to patients, regardless of where the pharmacist works (whether it is a retail store or a hospital). However, they also provide patients with further information about the drugs, their effects, and anything else the patients should be aware of. Furthermore, they are a great resource for patients who have questions or concerns regarding the drugs for which that have been prescribed. Pharmacists generally have a duty to care for patients and make sure their drugs are effective and being taken in a safe manner.

Although a pharmacist's career revolves mostly around prescription drugs, pharmacists may also make recommendations about over-the-counter drugs, and answer any questions about those non-prescription drugs.

The workload of a pharmacist will vary greatly. In a hospital, a pharmacist may be "on call" for extended periods of time (often exceeding 24 hours). In a retail pharmacy, hours are directly influenced by the actual hours of the store. If a store is only open from 9 am to 9 pm, the pharmacist's work day will be contained during this period. Many drug stores, however, are open 24 hours a day.

How Much Money Do Pharmacists Generally Earn?

A pharmacist's income will vary based on geographical location, job function, and experience. The average pharmacist's salary in department, grocery, and drug stores is roughly between $95,000 and $105,000. For pharmacists who work in hospitals, this range generally falls to approximately $85,000-$90,000 or so. It is evident by the relatively high salaries that pharmacists are well rewarded for their education and expertise with respect to prescription drugs.

What does a pharmacist do? Now you know!