As the number of pharmacy schools continues to grow, so are job opportunities for endeavoring pharmacists that have earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. By 2022, the government expects to see more than 41,000 additional chemists nationwide to have already secured available posts. In addition to dispensing medications, these learned professionals also teach other health care practitioners about the proper usage of curative therapies, while providing advice to patients on how to live a healthier lifestyle.

(Photo Courtesy of Kristine McGill)

(Photo Courtesy of Kristine McGill)

“Pharmacists encourage patients to take an active role in managing their own health, which is especially important with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Kristine McGill, a drug education coordinator at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. “We promote medication adherence and help patients understand how to take their medications and why those medications are important.”

How do you confirm safe usage of medications?

“Our hospital uses a barcode system to ensure that a patient’s wristband matches the barcode on the medication before it is given to the patient. Kaiser Permanente’s electronic medical record and integrated system allows pharmacists to communicate easily with physicians, if there are questions about a patient’s medications. We also make telephone calls to monitor patients on certain medications, such as blood thinners and oral cancer drugs.”

What defines an adept pharmacist?

“Pharmacists go through extensive training to learn about medications. It’s knowing how to communicate all of that knowledge to patients, physicians and nurses that sets some pharmacists apart from others.”

How is a pharmacist’s role changing?

“In 2013, Governor Brown signed into law pivotal legislation, which officially recognizes pharmacists as health care providers. By 2022, all patients will hopefully have a primary care pharmacist, alongside a primary care physician.”

What is your message to aspiring pharmacists?

“I encourage prospective pharmacists to take advanced science courses, such as biology, physiology and chemistry while in high school and college. There are many different opportunities for those with a pharmacy degree. In addition to working in a clinical role, pharmacists hold positions in information technology, drug information, academic settings, and at pharmaceutical companies and governmental organizations.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.

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