Types of Work Environments for Pharmacists

Pharmacists work in a variety of environments depending on the type of job they are doing and the type of customer they will service. Most pharmacists work in an actual pharmacy, but many work in laboratory and office settings. Because pharmacists are needed for an array of jobs within community health and research-related fields of medicine, the types of work environments are also varied.

For example, a general pharmacist may work in a hospital pharmacy, a clinic pharmacy, or a retail pharmacy. He or she may also work ‘in the field’; dispensing medicine outdoors in the event of a natural disaster or in a person’s home if they choose to specialize in home health care.

General Types of Work Environments

According to Andrea Santiago, an expert on health-related careers for About.com, there are a few types of work environments for general and specialized pharmacists:

(Read more about each type of pharmacy environment here.)

Retail Pharmacy Careers: Retail pharmacists dispense medications at drug stores or grocery stores…

Clinical Pharmacy Careers: Clinical pharmacists work in a hospital as part of a medical care team…

Long-term care: Long-term care facilities are homes where ongoing care is provided to the elderly or incapacitated individuals who are not in need of acute medical care but who are unable to care for themselves. Pharmacists who work in long-term care homes are sometimes referred to as “closed door pharmacists”, meaning they do not interact with patients directly at all.

Nuclear Pharmacy Careers: […] {Laboratory setting}Due to the nature of the radioactive materials and how they are handled, nuclear pharmacists are typically required to start each work day very early, sometimes pre-dawn, as the radioactive materials must be delivered within a few hours of their use, or they lose their effectiveness.

Home infusion and Chemotherapy: These pharmacists are responsible for accurately mixing the chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients.

Pharmaceutical Benefit Management: These corporations negotiate between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare insurance companies regarding coverage and reimbursement amounts for drugs on various health plans.

Non-Clinical Types of Work for Pharmacists

Santiago notes that there are many non-clinical types of industries as well. She writes (in part):

Healthcare IT is a hot field, and it continues to boom, even in the recession. The Obama administration’s push for EMR (electronic medical records) will continue to increase the demand for healthcare IT professionals.

Medical science liaisons often work for pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturers. Medical science liaisons help to communicate and educate consumers and physicians on the products or services offered by their employer.

A job in pharmaceutical sales does not require a clinical background or an advanced degree, although a bachelor’s degree is usually a prerequisite.

Medical recruiting probably has the lowest barrier of entry. However, many medical recruiting firms also experience very high turnover.

Unless you already work for a medical manufacturer, you may have never thought about a career in medical device marketing. However, this career offers a great deal of career advancement potential, as well as job stability and earning potential.

If you have a way with words, and a familiarity with medical technology or background in clinical medicine, a career as a medical writer could be for you.

(Read more about Non-clinical types of pharmacy careers.)