Aside from a retail pharmacy, there are many different areas in which a pharmacist can practice. A hospital pharmacy is just one of these many areas. Pharmacy schools may help one prepare for this career with different clinical opportunities.
A hospital pharmacist provides services to all types of hospitals and patients. These pharmacists may be presented with complex medical cases and therefore may be confronted with difficult pharmaceutical management issues. Because of this, some hospital pharmacists have continued their education beyond pharmacy school, in the form of a residency or fellowship, in order to properly train for work in this environment.
The additional training may also be necessary to cover the compounding of specialty medications. A hospital pharmacist may be asked to compound pharmaceuticals for patients receiving total parenteral nutrition or chemotherapeutic drugs, or for neonates requiring antibiotics. These products require pharmacists who have specialized training, and some pharmacies have outsourced this function to facilities that specialize in this type of compounding.
As the name implies, a hospital pharmacist typically works in a hospital. These pharmacists are responsible for keeping and managing a large inventory of medications,as these medications may need to be available to many patients at any given time. These pharmacists may also be responsible for stocking investigational medications. This may be especially true in a university hospital system, where medical research (e.g., clinical trials) may be conducted. While some hospitals have a retail pharmacy on site, a hospital pharmacist would be unlikely to staff this area and it should not be confused with the hospital pharmacy which supplies medication to inpatients.
A hospital pharmacist may require specialized training to work with the types of patients encountered in a hospital setting. Individuals who like some diversity in their work might be well suited for work in a hospital pharmacy.