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The role and responsibilities of a hospital pharmacist

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A hospital pharmacist is a highly trained professional who works in hospitals to provide medications to patients and assist doctors with prescribing medications. Their role is critical to healthcare quality in hospitals, but many people don't know what it entails or how they fit into the process. 

In this article we unpack the key roles and responsibilities of a hospital pharmacist.

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Hospital pharmacist role description

The role of a hospital pharmacist is to work under the guidance of other medical staff members, for example, qualified doctors or nurses. They play an essential part in providing good quality care for patients while also helping them avoid unnecessary complications caused by misused medications or adverse reactions to prescribed medications.

A hospital pharmacist is responsible for advising on the selection and correct use of drugs, ensuring that drugs are dispensed and administered safely, providing advice on drug therapy and its effects, assisting in improving patient care through drug therapy and promoting the rational use of medicines.

What does a hospital pharmacist do?

Each day can be different depending on what's happening at a hospital. A hospital pharmacist could be busy filling patient prescriptions one minute, dedicating time with the patient to discuss their drug therapy, all the way to explaining to other medical staff how to administer an IV drip.

So, what exactly does a hospital pharmacist do? 

Dispense medication

A pharmacist in a hospital setting is an expert who dispenses medication to patients, providing advice during the process. In addition to dispensing medications, a pharmacist working in this capacity will ensure that medications are appropriately stored and disposed of properly when they are no longer needed.

Counsel patients

A hospital pharmacist will counsel patients on their medications and discuss the side effects they might experience. They will also educate them on how to take their medications and how important it is that they adhere to the dosage schedule.

A pharmacist may also access information about a patient's health history to understand better what treatment options would be best suited for them. They can help guide patients through some of their most difficult decisions while making sure they have access to all possible resources available at any given time - including both prescription-based medicines as well as over-the-counter remedies like analgesics or antihistamines. These types of medications relieve symptoms but don't require an actual diagnosis from medical professionals.

Work directly with other healthcare professionals

A hospital pharmacist's most important role is working directly with other medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses. They are essential in providing advice about drug interactions within the hospital setting. For example, if a patient has been taking aspirin for pain control and starts receiving treatment with warfarin (a blood thinner) for an irregular heartbeat, a hospital pharmacist would need to monitor their blood levels closely so that they don't experience any adverse effects from this interaction.

Additionally, pharmacists often act as liaisons between GP practices and hospitals regarding prescriptions ordered by doctors; they ensure that patients are given proper instructions regarding what new prescriptions should be taken at home once they've left the hospital.

Manage other pharmacists and technicians

In addition to dispensing medications and counselling patients, hospital pharmacists are responsible for managing other pharmacists and technicians. This means ensuring that all personnel can perform their duties satisfactorily, supervising work schedules and medication distribution, tracking inventory levels, and ordering supplies as necessary.

Patient interaction

Another vital responsibility is patient interaction. A hospital pharmacist will help to educate patients about their medications and how to take them safely. They may also provide counselling on various topics related to health and wellness, such as diet, exercise, or smoking cessation.

Perform clinical services

It’s likely that most hospital pharmacists will also be expected to provide patient education through one-on-one interactions or group classes. They may be asked to perform clinical services such as medication adherence clinics or blood pressure clinics, where it's important that patients receive accurate information about taking medications in order to avoid side effects or dangerous interactions with other drugs they may be taking concurrently.

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Key responsibilities

Below we have summarised the main responsibilities of a hospital pharmacist:

  • Maintaining the drug stock in the hospital at all times. This includes storing medications safely, processing orders, and purchasing medicine from suppliers.

  • Educating patients and their families about what drugs they're taking. Hospital pharmacists may also give information on any potential side effects or risks associated with taking medication.

  • Monitoring patients' prescriptions regularly to ensure they're being taken correctly and as prescribed by a doctor or specialist. Everyone involved in treating a patient must know what kind of medication they are taking to make informed decisions about their treatment plan.

If you’re looking to become a hospital pharmacist, below we have summarised the qualifications, skills and qualities you’ll need, as well as the career progression opportunities that are available.

Important skills, qualities and qualifications of a hospital pharmacist

What skills, qualities and qualifications do you need to be a hospital pharmacist? 

  • Qualifications: To practice legally in the UK, you must have a UK Accredited MPharm Degree, OSPAP (Overseas Pharmacists Assessment Programme), or OSPAP postgraduate diploma (PgDip), as well as be GPhC registered. 

  • Pharmacy skills: You need to know how to fill prescriptions, recognise dangerous drug interactions, and identify potential side effects. 

  • Interpersonal skills: You'll be working with patients and their families all day, so you must understand how to communicate effectively.

  • Communication skills: As a pharmacist, you'll be communicating with doctors, nurses, other hospital staff members, and even other pharmacists about medications that are being prescribed or administered.

  • Problem-solving skills: When something goes wrong in the pharmacy, it's up to the pharmacist to figure out what happened and fix the problem. Hence, no further medication errors occur in their pharmacy or elsewhere in the hospital setting.

  • Organisational skills: There are many tasks associated with running a pharmacy, and they often need to be completed within a specific time frame — this means having strong organisational abilities is essential!

Career path and progression opportunities

If you are interested in a career as a hospital pharmacist, you should know that it is a very rewarding and fulfilling profession. Pharmacists have many opportunities for career progression, and they enjoy high levels of respect and recognition. 

The life of a hospital pharmacist is also very busy and demanding. Pharmacists work long hours and are often required to perform duties outside of regular working hours, such as filling in for other pharmacists who are ill or on holiday. However, this is offset by the fact that hospital pharmacists earn good salaries and have access to excellent benefits packages during their careers. The longer a pharmacist works in a hospital, the more likely they will progress with bandings and pay. 

As a hospital pharmacist, you can specialise in many different areas. Perhaps you are interested in paediatrics or aseptic? Maybe you would like to work with cancer patients or transplant recipients? Many options are available, and all of them can be rewarding and satisfying.

Additionally, being a hospital pharmacist allows you to work with a wide variety of patients from all walks of life. You will see people from different countries and cultures who speak other languages that may have come from very different backgrounds than yours. You will also meet people who have lived their entire lives within the same city or country as you but whose experiences are vastly different. This diversity can make for some fascinating conversations.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, working as a pharmacist at the hospital allows for great interactions between pharmacists and medical professionals, which ultimately benefits patients by helping them get the best care possible.

Discover hospital pharmacy roles with Maxxima

There's a lot to learn about being a hospital pharmacist, but it's an exciting and rewarding career. If you're interested in this type of work, we recommend checking out some of the hospital pharmacist jobson our website or registering your interest with the team.

We have pharmacy roles available throughout the UK, including locum pharmacist jobs. Our dedicated team, who know your specialty inside out, will be able to secure you with your dream placement with one of our many clients.

In addition to learning more about the roles available at Maxxima, why not talk with other hospital pharmacists about their experiences on the job so that you can get a better sense of what it means to be part of this profession?

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