What is a Hospital Pharmacist?
Unlike pharmacists in retail settings, hospital pharmacists don't typically spend the majority of their workday filling prescriptions. Instead, these professionals assist in direct patient care in hospital settings. This might include making rounds with health care practitioners; conducting minor medical tests, like glucose tests and cholesterol screenings; and giving patients advice about medications and healthy lifestyle choices. They also might recommend particular drugs and intravenous admixtures, including dosage amount, and ensure that those medications are given at the right time each day.
Additionally, hospital pharmacists might oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and interns, evaluate patients' drug use and report any adverse reactions that patients have to medications.
|Educational Requirements||Doctor of Pharmacy|
|Job Skills||Detail-oriented, computer skills, communication skills, ability to work with patients of all ages, management and mentoring skills|
|Median Salary (2016)*||$122,820|
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*||6% (for pharmacists in general)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Prospective hospital pharmacists must graduate from an accredited Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program, which typically takes four years to complete. In addition to coursework, students in these postgraduate programs complete internships to gain practical experience in pharmacy settings.
After graduating from pharmacy school and completing a set number of internship hours, prospective hospital pharmacists must earn state licensure. This involves passage of two exams: the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a similar state-mandated law test. In certain states, pharmacists also must be certified if they administer immunizations and vaccinations.
Hospital pharmacists must be detail-oriented to ensure that patients are receiving medications and dosages that are safe for them. They also need computer skills to maintain all necessary electronic health records and strong written and verbal communication skills for interacting with patients, patients' families and members of the medical team.
Hospital pharmacists must be amenable to working with people of all ages, from infants to the elderly, since these groups are all represented in a hospital's population. Additionally, they need managerial skills to oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and interns, as well as mentoring skills so they can share their knowledge and abilities with these techs and interns.
Career Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that pharmacists in general would experience 6% growth in employment between 2016 and 2026; this was about the average level of growth for all occupations. The BLS also noted that pharmacists in hospitals and other healthcare settings were expected to see increased demand because of a need to oversee patients' medications and perform some medical tasks, like tests for blood sugar and cholesterol.
The BLS reported that pharmacists who worked in hospitals earned a median annual salary of $122,820 as of May 2016. This was slightly higher than the average for pharmacists in general.
People who are interested in careers as hospital pharmacists also might want to learn more about these careers in the pharmaceutical industry: