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To all those pre-pharmacy/ pharmacy students/ pharmacists =o

A photo of JRT JRT
What made you choose pharmacy?
When I think of pharmacy, I think of purely just sitting at the counter counting pills.
Sometimes, interacting with customers and suggesting possible medications...
It sounds pretty dull :(

Has anyone experienced hospital/clinical pharmacy?
Is it any different from retail pharmacy?

Any feedback/opinion is welcomed!

And for those who are in pre-pharmacy, did your marks drop from high school?
And why do you think your marks dropped?
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3 replies
A photo of kevinku2435 kevinku2435
Hi JRT. I have volunteered for over 4 months at a retail pharmacy and still continuing :)
At the pharmacy I volunteer at, the pharmacist sometimes count pills too when the assistants are busy and yes they do advise the patients on medications. What you think of pharmacists is correct but that is only a limited perspective. Pharmacists also play the important role of making sure the doctors didn't prescribe the wrong medications, making sure that the patients understand what medications they are taking and how they work (doctors often do not tell the patients how the medications can help them!), and making sure that the patients know how to take medications. Basically, pharmacists are experts on medications. Personally, I find volunteering at the pharmacy a bit dull because all I do is counting pills, but I did have the chance to learn more about the profession and to see if it is right for me. If you are serious about being a pharmacist, ask pharmacists that you want to volunteer! Make sure you ask the independent pharmacies because they are more willing to take you in than Shoppers drug mart. At first, I wanted to be a hospital pharmacist but after volunteering, I found out that I wanted to be a community pharmacist. Also keep in mind, community pharmacists have WAYYYYY more patient contact than hospital and get paid more :)

btw. have you looked into the CAP program by Waterloo? It guarantees admittance to pharmacy school for high school students in grade 12 who are sure of becoming pharmacist.
I have applied to it myself and PM me or post here if you have any questions about it.

^^^ sorry about long post lol
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A photo of code07 code07
I did a co-op at Shoppers Drug Mart in pharmacy two years ago. What the OP said pretty much sums up what pharmacists do the most. If I knew that was the case I would have never considered a co-op at a pharmacy.
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
What you aren't seeing as a co-op student or volunteer is the satisfaction that comes with using what you know to help out others in ways that few other people can. It's neat when you actually know a lot about drugs and are able to look at a patient's prescription and see a problem that you can easily fix. Aside from that, my friends who want to be community pharmacists just see it as an easy, rather stress-free way of making pretty damn good money. And working with the right people can make it fun too. At the community pharmacy I did a rotation at, it was pretty much talk time all day. Several people were working at one time, and we were all more or less sitting or standing in the same room, so it was very easy to chat with the others. Furthermore, because the pharmacist is also the unofficial manager of the dispensary, he or she is also responsible for a lot of administrative work. There are a variety of tasks that need to be done.

In my opinion though, hospital pharmacy is a much more interesting field. As a hospital pharmacist, you are considered the drug therapy expert in the multidisciplinary health care team that is responsible for treating more critical patients. You do rounds, just like physicians in the hospital do. If a patient is vomiting repeatedly for days, for example, you would want to consider how likely it is that one of his medications (of which there are probably many) is causing this. If you suspect one, then you have to consider alternatives. You would then suggest an alternative to the on duty physician, explaining to him or her the pros and cons. In hospital pharmacy, you deal with more advanced issues, mostly converse with other health care professionals (and less with patients), and are able to actually see the results of your work.

Also worth considering is that pharmacy truly is an evolving field. Pretty much every career field claims to be evolving, and I'm sure they all are to an extent, but pharmacy is rapidly evolving. This is because the government is changing a lot of regulations related to pharmacy practice. The provincial governments are by far the biggest purchasers of prescription medicine in Canada (they, for example, cover ~80% of the cost of most medications for people 65 and older). With the aging population and growing public debt, a lot of provincial governments see room for change in the pharmacy industry. For example, the provinces are sponsoring the regulation of pharmacy technicians and are allowing these regulated pharmacy technicians to do quite a few tasks that formerly only pharmacists could do. Not wanting to completely piss off pharmacists and also seeing the cost savings that come from thorough medication reviews for people taking upwards of five prescriptions at all times (i.e. a lot of the population aged 65 and older), the provincial governments are also sponsoring government-paid pharmacist professional services (e.g. medication reviews, vaccinations, blood pressure and diabetes monitoring, prescription changes [most provinces will soon allow pharmacists to have prescribing rights], and others). Twenty years from now, pharmacists could very easily be out of the dispensary, doing a lot of the drug therapy-specific tasks that primary care physicians do now, and they'll be paid in much the same manner that PCPs are now (though at lower wages).
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