Area of Practices in Pharmacy

A health professional who practices the science of linking between the health disciplines with chemical sciences is called a Pharmacist, whom are accountable in ensuring the safe and effective use of medicines. Medicines have various functions and serve different purposes, which is why pharmacy may be practiced in different areas.

Most pharmacists practice their profession in a Community Pharmacy. It comprises of a retail storefront with a dispensary for storing and dispensing medications. All pharmacies whenever open are required to have a licensed pharmacist on-duty or must be owned by a registered pharmacist. But this was later revoked in many jurisdictions since many establishments have a pharmacy department. Nowadays, pharmacies are not limited to retailing and dispensing medicines, but like grocery stores with many selling a variety of items including cosmetics, shampoo, office supplies, confections, snack foods, durable medical equipment, greeting cards, and provide photo processing services.

A Hospital pharmacy situated inside hospitals have more complex medication management issues in contrast to the more complex business and customer relations issues of a community pharmacy. It stocks a larger range of medications dispensed in the hospital either as unit-dose or a single dose of medicines.

In Clinical Pharmacy, patients are provided with direct care services optimizing the use of medication for health promotion and disease prevention. It initially began in hospitals and clinics but now, clinical pharmacists administer care for patients in whatever health care setting. The clinical pharmacist’s work is in collaboration with physicians, nurses and other healthcare personnel in various medical and surgical areas, making their profession an integral part of patient care.

Preparing drugs in new forms is the job of a Compounding pharmacist. For example, a drug manufacturer provides a certain drug in tablet form, the compounding pharmacist might produce a medicated candy containing the drug, thus a patient may only suck or eat the candy if he has a hard time swallowing tablets. Compounding may also mean mixing different strengths of capsules and tablets to produce desired effect by the doctor.

A Consultant pharmacist concentrates on medication regimen review rather on the actual provision of drugs and typically works in nursing homes.

Internet pharmacies have been established worldwide since the year 2000. Many are alike with community pharmacies which may serve customers online or walk-in. Internet or Online pharmacies are recommended to those who are home-bound or those who prefer a more private and convenient method in buying medicines. Since some online pharmacies sell drugs to online consumers without prescription, one major concern of this area of practice is the ease by which people, especially the youth, can access prescription or controlled drugs.

Animal or veterinary pharmacies stock different assortments of medications for animal pharmaceutical needs. They are often separated from regular pharmacies.

Nuclear pharmacy’s main concern is the preparation of radioactive materials for diagnostic tests and treating certain diseases.

A Military pharmacist has a working environment which is completely different from the others as most of the duties performed by the technician might be considered illegal in the civilian sector.

In Pharmacy Informatics, pharmacy practice science and applied information science are combined together. Informaticists work in many areas of pharmacy but may well be trained to take part in medication management system development, deployment and optimization.

What a Pharmacy Technician Does

What Does a Pharmacy Technician Do?

I have been writing articles on why and how to become a pharmacy technician, but some recent feedback has made me realize I left out the obvious. What is it that pharmacy technicians do in a pharmacy? Most people figure they help the pharmacist enter prescriptions and count pills. This is true for an outpatient pharmacy, also called a retail pharmacy, but there are many roles for pharmacy technicians in healthcare. The rest of this article will list different types of pharmacy settings and the roles that pharmacy technicians have in these settings.

Community/Retail Pharmacy:

I have worked retail, and I prefer other settings; however, it is where a large percentage of pharmacy technician jobs are found. What a pharmacy technician can do is determined by the state they work via state laws and rules. In general, technicians cannot provide clinical information to patients or be the final check for prescriptions. In some states, technicians are allowed to provide information on over-the-counter (OTC) medication (ie, medications that do not require a prescription, such as, acetaminophen and ibuprofen). Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:

• Collecting patient information (insurance and personal information as needed)
• Entering and processing prescriptions in the computer system
• Filling and selling prescriptions
• Requesting refills from doctor offices for patients
• Compounding medications that are not commercially available
• Ordering medications
• Restocking shelves
• Answering the phone
• Working with insurance companies on approving payment for certain medications
• Maintaining the cash register and conducting accounting functions

Hospital Pharmacy:

There are many different roles for pharmacy technicians in a hospital pharmacy. I know this type of pharmacy best since this is where most of my work has been. The most common are technicians who work in the central pharmacy. In addition we have decentralized techs, sterile compounding techs, billing techs, OR techs, narcotic techs, database techs, automation techs, team lead techs, and buyer techs. These technicians as a whole perform the following tasks, but not limited to:

• Filling new orders, this includes a variety of medications from oral medications to specially prepared sterile compound medications (including chemotherapy meds)
• Answering the phone
• Tubing medications (if the pharmacy has a pneumatic tube station)
• Preparing medications for delivery
• Delivering medications
• Assisting floor pharmacists with medication histories
• Assisting floor pharmacists with IV drip checks
• Handling missing dose calls
• Billing medications where nurse charting does not bill
• Maintaining the pharmacy database
• Restocking operating rooms and anesthesia trays with appropriate medication
• Dispensing and tracking all controlled substances throughout the hospital
• Maintaining automation equipment [automated dispensing cabinets that store medication on nursing units, automatic fill systems (typically called Robot-Rx)]
• Purchasing of all medication and supplies needed in the pharmacy
• Leading and managing the technician workforce, including upkeep of schedules

Long-Term Care Pharmacy:

I have worked at a couple of long-term care pharmacies, and I think it is a great place to be a technician. They typically employee a lot of techs because the work load lends itself to a lot of technician tasks. These pharmacies provide the medication needs for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and psychiatric facilities. The typical pharmacy is located in a warehouse. It does not have an open pharmacy for people to come to; they receive orders by fax and deliver all medications via couriers or drivers to facilities. The oral medication is filled in blister packs (cards of 30 tabs that are used to provide a 1 month supply of medication), or some other mechanism that provide the facility with an extended amount of medication doses that can be safely and cleanly kept until doses are due. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:

• Filling new and refill orders (different from hospital because of the number of doses provided)
• Processing new order and refills coming through the fax machine
• Order entry of prescriptions and printing of labels for fill techs
• Sterile compounding of medications (although there aren’t as many sterile compounded medications as a hospital, there are still enough that most long-term care pharmacies have a few techs specialize in sterile compounding
• Billing medications to homes
• Controlled substance dispensing and documentation
• Ordering medications and supplies
• Restocking medications that are returned that are still suitable for reuse.

Home Infusion Pharmacy:

These pharmacies primarily care for patients that require some form of IV or other non oral medication, and want to receive the therapy at home (hence the name home-infusion). I have also worked in a home-infusion pharmacy. As a tech I had a lot of experience in sterile compounding, and found my self in any position that needed a IV room tech. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:

• Compounding sterile preparations in the clean room
• Preparing supplies associated with sterile medication administration for delivery
• Billing medications delivered to patients home
• Coordinating deliveries of medications with patients
• Entering orders in the pharmacy order entry system

Nuclear Pharmacy:

No, I have not worked in a nuclear pharmacy (I am sure you were staring to think I got around quite a bit, but I have been in pharmacy for about 17 years). I have some friends who work in a nuclear pharmacy. The hours are interesting; they usually come in at about 3 AM and work until about noon. These types of pharmacies make radioactive compounds and they need to be made in a way that when they are delivered to the hospital or clinic administering them, that the dose has degraded to a specific amount. Without going into too much detail, these medications have short half-lives. So they have to time the compounding of the product with the time it takes to deliver the medication and the time the patient is to receive the dose. The job pays well, but as you can imagine, there are not a ton of these positions available. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:

• Preparing radioactive products
• Cleaning and preparing sterile compounding areas
• Entering orders into the pharmacy system
• Coordinating dose due times with deliveries and preparation
• Billing products to hospital or clinic

Health Plans/HMO Pharmacy Group:

I saved this one for last because it is a lot different. Most healthcare plans have a pharmacy department. They manage the pharmacy benefit of the health plan. I have worked with my companies health plan and have spent some time with the pharmacy department. Pharmacy technician tasks include, but are not limited to:

• Answering phone calls and providing support for patients on the pharmacy benefit
• Reviewing prior authorization requests
• Providing support to physicians and drug companies for information requests
• Supporting the pharmacists in the department with database and projects as needed

As you can see, pharmacy technician roles can be very diverse. The best advice I can give you is to figure out what setting you would most like to work in and obtain some experiential hours in that setting. I have found that the type of pharmacy you train in is typically the type of pharmacy you end up working in.

The Online Pharmacy – How to Safely Buy Drugs Online

Safety concerns regarding buying prescription medications online pharmacy revolve around issues pertaining to your personal health, the legality of transactions, and protection of your personal information. Online pharmacies provide convenience and other advantages such as privacy and in some cases cheaper prices compared to the traditional brick and mortar pharmacy, but without due diligence the buying of prescription medication online can be fraught with a number of deleterious pitfalls.

To ensure the safety of prescription medications the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that medications go through safety clinical trials, and that the benefits outweigh the risks associated with a drug before it is approved for marketing and sale in the United States. Unfortunately pharmacists outside the United States that dispense drugs manufactured outside of the United States are not bound by federal regulations, posing a health hazard for those who choose to purchase from them. Because some pharmacies, even within the United States, import and distribute non-FDA approved drugs manufactured outside of the country, it is important to make sure that the online pharmacy you choose only dispenses FDA approved prescription medications. The main concerns about purchasing prescription medication from rogue online pharmacies that dispense drugs not approved by the FDA approved are, the drugs you receive might be counterfeit, contaminated, sub-potent, super potent or the wrong drug, all of which could jeopardize your health. In the worst-case scenario, you may not receive any medication at all despite paying for it. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the online pharmacy is licensed and based in the United States and if not that it is accredited and dispenses drugs approved by its government.

Since rogue pharmacies tend to want to be invisible and unreachable except in cyberspace, it is important to obtain up-to-date contact information in the form of a physical address and telephone number. With that information you can attempt to obtain a Better Business Bureau report. If a Better Business Bureau report is not available you can then do an advanced Dun & Bradstreet search to make sure that the business does in fact exist. Avoid doing business with operations that only provide you with an e-mail address as a form of contact. In addition to possibly precluding you from obtaining credentials and information about business practices, the provision of just an e-mail address might be an indicator of the quality of customer service you can expect or not expect. Also obtain the license number and any accreditation credentials from the pharmacy then verify the information through the state pharmacy board of the state in which the pharmacy is based, an all important step because some of the alleged Internet pharmacies are not really legitimate licensed operations. In addition to verifying license status and the fact that the pharmacy is located in the United States and meets quality standards, state boards of pharmacy or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) can also let you know if an online pharmacy is accredited by Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) or other recognized accreditation programs. VIPPS pharmacy sites can also be identified by the VIPPS hyperlink seal displayed on their Web sites.

Many pharmacies online advertise the filling of prescriptions without a doctor’s order which can certainly be a health hazard if a prescription is filled without a thorough knowledge and understanding of your health record. The pharmacies that do this tend to hurdle the legal requirement of a doctor/patient relationship by having you fill out a questionnaire which is supposedly reviewed with you by their doctor during a telephone consultation. If you elect to participate in this type of interaction and relationship (which I do not recommend) be sure that the pharmacy engaging in this practice is compliant with the telemedicine laws of the state in which it is based since the definition of the establishment of a doctor/patient relationship varies from state to state. Also obtain the credentials of the doctor providing the telephone consultation including the state in which he or she is licensed and the license number, then verify that information through the medical board of the state in which the doctor is licensed to make sure that a valid license is held for the state in which you are located at the time of the telephone consultation. Otherwise the alleged relationship established by telephone and Internet would not be a legitimate one inasmuch as the interaction would be tantamount to the practice of medicine without a license. The take-home message is avoid buying prescription medications online without the order of a physician who is thoroughly familiar with your health history based not only on subjective information, but objective data as well including a physical examination, laboratory tests and x-rays if warranted. A doctor’s order also prevents the unauthorized substitution of generic prescription medication for brand-name medication, so make sure you know whether or not their doctor has authorized generic substitution, and if not be sure to know what the brand-name pill looks like before it arrives following shipment. The best way to be familiar with what brand-name pills look like is to order the first prescription from a local pharmacy and keep one or two of the pills in their respective bottles for comparison when your shipment arrives.

Although the legal ramifications of not being compliant with federal and state laws regarding the sale, importation and distribution of pharmaceutical medications generally rest with the pharmacy, the purchase and possession of controlled substances such as narcotics without a doctor’s prescription can result in legal consequences for the buyer, depending on the state of residence. Thus, the message is the same. Do not buy prescription medications, particularly controlled substances, without a doctor’s prescription. If you are elect to purchase medication not available in the United States and not approved by the FDA from a foreign Internet pharmacy for treatment of a condition for which your doctor feels it is indicated, be sure to obtain and keep on record a letter or note from your physician stating that.

After you have conducted the above research and you are satisfied with the results the final step should be to make sure that any private personal information submitted is protected and that your online transactions are secure. Make sure that the particular website has a well stated privacy policy assuring you that your information will not be shared with or sold to anyone for the purpose of marketing thus making you a target for spam e-mailing. Also make sure that your online credit card purchase is secure to protect yourself from identity theft. This can generally be done by looking for the lock icon to the right of the address bar of your browser before entering your credit card and other transaction information. Since credit card transactions can never be 100% secure because of what might happen to the information after is retrieved from the system, it is reasonable to find out whether or not the pharmacy will accept other forms of payment or even file with your insurance company.

In summary, do the necessary and appropriate investigation of an online pharmacy before buying medications online so as to optimize the likelihood of a medically, legally, financially and emotionally safe buying experience.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purpose only and is not intended to be legal advice or a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. If you are seeking legal advice or are unsure about your medical condition you should consult an attorney and/or physician.

The Advantages of Choosing a Pharmacy Career

Pharmacists deal with the preparation and dispensing of prescription drugs. Many are also responsible for the research and development of new medications, some being capable of stopping major diseases. They are required to complete many years of schooling and training in order to obtain their level of responsibility. But there are a number of advantages to choosing a pharmacy career.

One definite perk of this career is the potential to travel to exotic places. Pharmacists are often asked to travel to various places in order to study the medical benefits of plants and drugs there. They also get to attend pharmaceutical conventions all over the world to learn about new prescription breakthroughs and methods.

Another benefit of being a pharmacist is the job security involved. A career in pharmaceuticals is one of the country’s most sought after jobs. In times of economic downturn and recessions, a pharmacists knows that his job is safe and secure. Almost one hundred percent of pharmacy school students find work in the field within their first year of graduation.

If helping others is a passion of yours then a career in pharmacy may be right for you. Pharmacists are some of the most trusted people in their towns. They carefully handle a person’s medication and are able to answer any questions about them. They are also responsible that each and every person who receives their medicine is aware of how to take it. People with allergic reactions or other problems with their medicine can turn to their pharmacist for help.

Pharmacists also garner a great deal of respect from their own communities. As they are entrusted with the medical files of hundreds of citizens, people tend to trust and respect them. Pharmacists working around the clock to create and distribute stronger medicines are often viewed as heroes.

A huge benefit of becoming a pharmacist is the salary that’s involved. These career fields make quite a lot of money. Although the training is long and arduous, the result is being financially sound for the rest of your life. Along with the knowledge that you are changing lives, it’s not a bad payout.

Halting the spread of disease and infection is a large part of pharmacy careers. People who want to contribute to the fight of diseases should consider a career in this field. Some pharmacists spend a lot of time working in labs and other environments attempting to produce new drugs that can end diseases. Often, a breakthrough in a disease’s weakness or cure is discovered by a pharmacist. Curing life threatening illnesses is part of the job description.

In conclusion, there are many many advantages to choosing a career in pharmaceuticals. Many choose it for the chance to travel to exotic places. Others for the comfort knowing they have job security. And some choose it because they want to help others and cure horrible diseases. Pharmacists get to do all of this, on top of earning a comfortable living, after completing their schooling and training.

Does a Pharmacy Technician Career Offer Stability?

The recent shake up in the world economy was a wake up call for everyone. People who thought the economy couldn’t have been better, learned a hard lesson: The economy can and does fall when it is dependent on a few. A few months down the line, the ripple effects of this “mayhem” are still felt in many homes, families and companies. Many professionals were let go, “voluntarily retired”, or outright laid off. Companies such as Panasonic closed down over 200 plants in a short 3 months, while Citigroup, the parent company of Citibank and other subsidiaries has plans to lay off at least five thousand of its workers before the end of the 3rd quarter.

For some people, the damage done was so irreparable they had to resort selling their properties, cars, assets, withdrawing their kids from schools and even suicide as a last option. The present situation has got a lot of young adults and youths thinking more in terms of financially stable jobs that also has the potential of a lifelong career. One of these careers is the pharmacy technician.

While many people were being laid off their jobs in the banking and finance sectors, more pharmacy technicians were being hired to meet the rising demand for more hands and professionals in the health care sector. According to various medical news sources, the demand for pharmacy technicians is gradually increasing as more people fall sick nowadays compared to the ’70s and ’80s. Estimated surveys and statistics also show that as more people fall ill and more hands are needed, the demand for their services is bound to increase over the next 10 years.

For many people, the profession of the pharmacy technician is often placed on the same pedestal as a pharmacist. This however, is not true. Pharmacy technicians are like assistants to the pharmacists. They work alongside the pharmacist functioning and work as record keepers, aides to the pharmacists, getting patient records, and ensure make sure that all prescriptions are verified before delivery to the patients, keep and preserve medical files or data and can help in the application of the right labels to all prescriptions tendered.

Pharmacy technicians can work in the groceries, nursing homes, pharmacy shops, retails pharmacy shops, online pharmacies, hospitals, drug producing factories and everywhere the services of pharmacists are required. While they earn less than pharmacists, their annual salaries vary between twenty five thousand dollars a year to fifty thousand dollars ($25000 – $50000). And recent trends show that the salaries will increase with time as the demand for their services increase too.