Newly minted pharmacists and those looking to change careers may think that they have few options. However, with the right skills and experience, there are plenty of opportunities out there for those who want to go beyond counting pills.
The Pharmacy Beyond the Counter webinar series from USP is designed to help expose pharmacists to new career paths. The first installment in the series focuses on five alternative career paths for pharmacists.
1. Clinical Pharmacist
At Pharmacist Support, we often hear from pharmacists who are looking for an alternative career path. One of the most common reasons is dissatisfaction with their current role. They may feel they have been treated unfairly or that their employer has not provided enough support. One option to consider is joining a trade union. This can provide not only employment advice but also help with defending a pharmacist’s professional reputation and providing professional indemnity insurance.
Another option is becoming a clinical pharmacist. These professionals are a part of the healthcare team and work closely with doctors to ensure that patients receive the best possible treatment. They do this by verifying prescriptions, ensuring that new drugs won’t interact with other medications, and offering advice on lifestyle habits, such as diet and exercise. Clinical pharmacists are increasingly being recognized as key members of the healthcare team and are becoming more popular around the world.
In addition, clinical pharmacists can perform patient assessments, order and interpret drug therapy-related tests and refer patients to other healthcare providers. They can also provide education on a specific disease or condition to help patients take an active role in their own care.
They can also work in research, and a number of types of pharmacists have become involved in medical informatics. This is a rapidly developing field that uses computer science and technology to improve the quality of health care. It can be a highly satisfying profession for a pharmacist who loves using their analytical skills to advance medicine and the overall quality of patient care.
Telehealth has become a popular healthcare trend in recent years, and it is no surprise that pharmacists are finding themselves using it for their own careers. Whether they are offering medication advice to patients, consulting with doctors to help them prescribe medications, or even working on developing new medicine, the possibilities for pharmacists using telehealth are endless.
One of the best-known ways that pharmacists use telehealth is to provide virtual pharmacy services, also known as telepharmacy. This type of pharmacy service allows people to purchase drugs online and have them shipped to their homes. This can be helpful for people who are not able to drive or have difficulty getting around, and it can also save them time and money on travel.
Another type of telepharmacy is the pharmacy-on-demand service, which allows people to speak with a pharmacist on a scheduled basis. This can be beneficial for anyone who has questions about their medications, as it can be easier to explain certain concepts to a person who is not relying on visual cues. It is also possible for patients to ask questions about their medication in real-time, which can be helpful if they are experiencing any adverse effects.
Those who are interested in the idea of a career as a telepharmacist should consider their options carefully. They can get help from a career adviser who can assess their strengths, skills, and interests and recommend the best option. A career adviser can also help them put together a CV and apply for jobs, and they can help with the application process to ensure that they have the best chance of success.
3. Medical Writer
A medical writer is a type of technical writer who specializes in topics related to medicine and healthcare. A medical writer can create scientific documents and other types of content for publications, regulatory documentation, informational pamphlets for medications, and healthcare websites. They can also write for insurance companies, manufacturing companies, and other businesses that require medical and health-related content.
Medical writers need to have a deep understanding of medical research and how it applies to specific medications and diseases. They must also be able to collate and present this scientific information in a way that is clear and lucid for nonmedical audiences. In order to do this, they need to be able to avoid the use of complex and technical language and focus on using clear and concise sentences that flow logically from one point to another.
Many medical writing jobs offer training for new recruits and on-the-job mentoring from senior medical writers with more experience in specific kinds of projects and paperwork. There are also a number of short courses and workshops that are offered by professional bodies that can help aspiring medical writers become familiar with the requirements for different kinds of writing.
In addition to formal education, medical writers can further their career prospects by joining professional communities and attending events such as meetups and conferences that other writers in the industry attend. They can also look for work opportunities on online freelance platforms or through job boards. They may also decide to take a master’s degree in medical writing to further enhance their skills and improve their chances of finding regular employment. Alternatively, they can also join the field of informatics, which is a combination of computer science and medicine that seeks to use data and information to improve healthcare.
4. Pharmacy Benefits Manager
Those seeking an alternative career path may choose to work for one of the pharmacy benefit management (PBM) companies. These middlemen determine what patients will ultimately pay for their prescriptions, often through insurance and by dictating which drugs are covered by plans and at what cost. Traditional PBMs make money by collecting administrative and service fees from the original insurance plan and a rebate from the drug manufacturer for each filled prescription.
However, a few of these firms have come under fire for allegedly ripping off consumers by overcharging for drugs. It’s easy to cast them as bad guys, but with changes in their basic business model, they could help hold down drug prices.
Pharmacists can also pursue careers in pharmacovigilance, the collection, detection, assessment, monitoring, and reporting of adverse events associated with pharmaceutical products. This is a vital area of work that checks the safety of drugs for use in hospitals, community pharmacies, and in clinical trials. This can be a very rewarding career choice for pharmacists who have the right personality and skills to undertake this work.
Another good option is to become a pharmacy informatics pharmacist, a field that involves the design and development of electronic health records, especially related to medications. This is an extremely important area of work as almost all medical facilities now operate on some form of computerized system that stores and manages patient records and medical data. This type of job is a very lucrative career choice that can open up other opportunities in the healthcare sector. Pharmacists interested in this kind of work should consider speaking to a career adviser to get professional advice and guidance.
5. Mail Order Pharmacist
As the cost of healthcare and drug prices increase, some patients are seeking alternative sources for their prescriptions. These individuals are often more willing to use mail-order pharmacies, especially since many are accustomed to their local pharmacists providing face-to-face consultations and helping them navigate the process of finding affordable medications that still meet the strict requirements set by doctors for proper storage and administration.
As a result, some pharmacy professionals find themselves transitioning to this role, explains North Central College. It requires the same education and licensing as a traditional pharmacist but also involves familiarity with online options that are gaining popularity. Pharmacists who choose this option should stay up to date with new alternatives and help patients balance cost-driven decisions that still maintain safety and efficacy.
Another way pharmacists are finding success outside of the retail sector is as medical writers. They can help write content for medical websites, eZines, and print publications that serve various audiences. This is an option that provides a steady, stable income for those who aren’t interested in working directly with the public.
It’s important for pharmacists to consider all of the career paths available to them after they finish their degree program. The more they can explore their options, the more likely they are to find an alternative that satisfies their desire for a challenging career while still allowing them to work in a field they love. By doing this, they’ll be able to continue to help their fellow citizens and stay happy in a career that makes them proud. The Careers Beyond the Counter series is meant to provide pharmacy students and pharmacists with information about additional career opportunities that they might not have considered before.