A pharmacist’s role in a hospital might appear straightforward. Simply assess the patients in their care and dispense any drugs that are deemed necessary by the doctors, right? Certainly not.
While the delivery of medication is a major part of the job, the role extends far beyond this, as they are seen as a core member of the hospital team, when it comes to delivering patient care.
Hospital pharmacist jobs are unlike community pharmacy, prison pharmacy or primary care pharmacy in many ways. So what makes a hospital pharmacist’s job so different?
The key responsibilities of a hospital pharmacist include:
A key role in a hospital pharmacist’s job is determining which form of medication best suits each patient. Each decision must be made in a timely and efficient manner and requires significant input from doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
Hospital pharmacists will often monitor the effects of the medications they prescribe and counsel their patients on the effects of the drugs.
Another aspect of this role is to recommend administration routes and dosages, all of which are dependent on an individual's needs.
A source of information
A hospital pharmacist is often a great source of advice for patients. They can also be 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.
Monitoring drug charts
As hospital pharmacists are required to work closely with other members of staff, such as physicians, nurses and dieticians, it is critical that information is passed on in a way that is clear to understand. While this might seem simple, performing hand-overs between shifts has the potential to make this aspect of the role a little more complicated.
Luckily, drug charts provide a vital source of information and act as an efficient method of communication between hospital pharmacists and other members of medical staff. It is critical that hospital pharmacists monitor these charts and ensure that the correct medication is being provided to each patient.
Such information may include which form of medication a patient requires, with options including tablets, injections, ointments or inhalers. How the medication should be administered must also be communicated.
Discharging patients is another important role. It is the duty of a hospital pharmacist to keep track of which patients are being discharged and inspect the discharge summary. This requires the pharmacist to inspect the patient’s drug chart to ensure that the medication prescribed matches that contained in the discharge summary. It is then the responsibility of the pharmacist to dispense the correct medication.
Many hospital pharmacists are also qualified to prescribe medication, however, this does not apply to all those in the profession.
Keeping up to date
As with any healthcare job, hospital pharmacists are expected to remain up to date with all aspects of medicine. This includes their usage and any new developments that may occur.
In order to do this, it is essential that hospital pharmacists use electronic databases and read research papers. These provide invaluable data which enables pharmacists to learn more about new drugs before recommending that they are purchased by the hospital.
Utilising these resources on a regular basis will allow hospital pharmacists to remain an excellent source of pharmaceutical advice.
Beyond the ward
Of course, hospital pharmacist duties can extend beyond the ward too.
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.
The role can extend to manufacturing medicines when ready-made preparations are unavailable.
Hospital pharmacists are a valuable commodity. Once fully qualified, a hospital pharmacist can impart their knowledge of medicine to other members of healthcare staff. Patients may also benefit from this wisdom, particularly pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those with chronic conditions affecting their heart, liver or kidneys.
For cases that offer a greater degree of complexity, hospital pharmacists are required to use their adept communication skills to gather more information on a patient. Once these facts have been obtained, they are expected to come to a qualified decision over the best course of action.
Factors such as medical history, lifestyle, existing medication and beliefs of the patient, as well as their ability to understand and follow an individual treatment plan, are all important factors when it comes to dispensing or prescribing medication.
Hospital pharmacists are able to improve their skills through regular rotations. Rotations see hospital pharmacists operate in a different department within their hospital for a set amount of time, essentially like a shift pattern. Such departments can include clinical wards and medicine information. Working these rotations allows a hospital pharmacist the chance to develop and gain a much more well-rounded skill set.
Hospital pharmacist jobs certainly don’t come with a glass ceiling. The role of offers plenty of scope to progress up the banding system. Generally starting at Band 6, there is the potential for a hospital pharmacist to improve their skills and, ultimately, their band.
For those with extensive experience or advanced skills, Band 7 managerial positions are achievable, as are Band 8B to 8D consultant pharmaceutical roles. These act as superb incentives and offer fantastic career paths.
The average salary for a hospital pharmacist varies and is dependent on experience, qualifications and responsibilities.
Working in an NHS trust can affect pay rates due to NHS pay bands. Hospital pharmacist salaries can range from £23,500 for a band 6 entry level pharmacist to upwards of £70,000 for band 8B to 8D pharmacy consultants.
Operating as a hospital pharmacist in a high cost area, such as inner London, often results in a higher salary. Salaries may also be higher for those working through private trusts.
Hospital pharmacy roles in the UK are open to pharmacists from across the world.
In order to become a hospital pharmacist in the UK, overseas pharmacists must register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), the regulatory body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. However, registration alone does not provide you with the right to work in the UK.
Pharmacists from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) require an Overseas Pharmacists Assessment Programme (OSPAP), 52 weeks of pre-registration training in England, Scotland or Wales and a pass result in the GPhC registration assessment. These steps must be completed within four years from the date you start your OSPAP. Hospital experience is also required, especially if a pharmacist is to gain sponsorship from a UK hospital.
You will also need to provide evidence of your English language competency. This can be achieved by sitting an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam or an Occupational English Test (OET).
While we don’t currently cannot provide support to international pharmacists throughout the process of registering in the UK, we may be able to help once you meet the necessary qualification criteria.
Find out more
Medacs Healthcare Champion Cavell Nurses’ Trust’s #10kForNurses
New Staff Bank Framework Award for MGG member Litmus Solutions
Nurse Career Progression: How Agency Nursing Supported My Career Development to ANP
Agency Nursing as a Career: An Interview with an Advanced Nurse Practitioner