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AUG 01/2013

The role of a hospital pharmacist

Hospital pharmacist jobs can differ from other locum pharmacist work, such as those in the HM Prison Service, community pharmacy roles or primary care pharmacists.

A hospital pharmacist is required to be a great source of advice for patients and work closely with medical and nursing staff on wards to ensure that the most appropriate treatment is being delivered.

They can inform patients on all aspects of their medicines, including recommending types, as well as administration routes and dosages, which are all very dependent on the individual's needs.

Hospital pharmacists can suggest whether tablet, injections, ointment or inhaler may be the best form of medication and frequently liaise with medical staff concerning their patients.

Seen as a great source of advice to other healthcare professionals, they are often called upon to recommend safe combinations of medicines or solutions to specific patient problems.

Hospital pharmacists can offer information on potential side effects and check that medicines are compatible with existing medication. They will often also monitor the effects of treatments to ensure that they are proving effective, safe and appropriate to the user.

Many, but not all, are also qualified to prescribe medication too.

In a hospital setting, whether that is in the NHS or in a private setting, pharmacists may take on other roles which they may not have elsewhere.

The hospital pharmacists are responsible for monitoring the supply of all medicines used in the hospital and are in charge of purchasing, manufacturing, dispensing and quality testing their medication stock along with help from pharmacy assistants and pharmacy technicians.

Expert advice

After qualifying as a hospital pharmacist you will be required to aid other members of healthcare staff, as well as patients, within specialist areas. These may include pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with chronic conditions affecting their heart, liver or kidney.

For these more complex cases, hospital pharmacists are required to use their adept communication skills to find out more information on the patient and eventually come to a qualified decision over the best course of action.

Factors such as medical history, lifestyle, existing medication, beliefs and wishes of the patient, and their ability to understand and follow an individual treatment plan are all important to investigate ahead of dispensing or prescribing medication.

As with any healthcare job it is important to stay up to date with all aspects of medicines, their usage and new developments. In order to do this, and remain a good source of pharmaceutical advice it is essential that you use electronic databases and read research papers.

These provide invaluable sources of information and allow you to learn more about new drugs before recommending that they are purchased by your hospital.

Other roles

As well as their daily roles dispensing medication and offering expert advice, hospital pharmacists can also be involved in manufacturing medicines when ready-made preparations are not available.

Other positions include being involved in procurement, radiotherapy, quality assurance, education and clinical trials. Managerial and consultant pharmaceutical roles can also be available to those with extensive experience or advanced skills.

Find out more about our pharmacist jobs.

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