Career-of-the-Month: Pharmacist & Pharmacologist

Pharmacist –

Pharmacists are experts in medicine and its side effects. Pharmacists give medicine to people when a doctor says that they need it. They sometimes help doctors choose which medicines to give patients. Pharmacists also warn doctors if they have asked their patients to take any medicine that might hurt them. Sometimes pharmacists mix the medicine themselves. More often, though, they use medicines that are already made. They tell people how to use the medicine correctly and store the medicine safely. They advise both doctors and patients about the dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications.

Most pharmacists work in drug stores and fill prescriptions. This includes working in grocery stores and retail stores that have pharmacies. Pharmacists also work in hospitals where they formulate medications including solutions for intravenous delivery. Some pharmacists work at night or on weekends because sick people may need medicine at any time. Pharmacists typically work about 40 hours a week, but some work longer hours. Many pharmacists stand for long periods of time while they work.

People who want to be pharmacists must be good at science and math. They should also be good at dealing with people. They have to be able to work carefully, too, because they often deal with strong medicine. Pharmacists wear gloves and masks when they work with potentially dangerous chemicals. After high school, it usually takes at least six years of study, including college and pharmacy school, to pass a certification test and become a pharmacist. Pharmacists must also have a license from the state in which they work.

Pharmacologist –

So what’s the difference between a pharmacist and a pharmacologist? Pharmacologists and pharmacists rarely encounter one another professionally. A pharmacist is a healthcare professional who deals with end products, while a pharmacologist is a scientist who works in research and development. A pharmacist mixes, supplies, and advises dosages of medications. A pharmacologist develops and tests new medicines. Both jobs require careful attention to detail.

Pharmacologists study what a drug does to a body and also how the body interacts with a drug. Their scientific method involves analyzing chemical compounds to identify their positive and/or harmful effects on humans and the environment. Pharmacologists are highly trained individuals who must have knowledge of chemistry, biology, physiology, and mathematics. Most pharmacologists have Pharm. D or Ph.D. degrees. Some pharmacologists become medical doctors and vice versa. A pharmacologist may specialize in specific parts of the body, or in a particular area such as toxicology or forensics.

Notably, a pharmacist holding a doctorate (D. Pharm.) is often indistinguishable from a pharmacologist. The major difference involves laboratory experience. Pharmacists do not spend the majority of their post-graduate training in the laboratory like pharmacologists do. Pharmacologists do not work with tablets, pills, or directly fulfilling consumer/patient needs like pharmacists do. Study pharmacy if you want to work with people in the health care industry. Study pharmacology if you want to perform research in the pharmaceutical industry.

Related Occupations:

Biological scientist
Medical scientist
Pharmacy aide
Pharmacy technician
Registered nurse

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