The layperson is most familiar with the retail pharmacist, that individual who we all see behind the counter at our local drugstore or supermarket. Retail pharmacy is just one of many areas of practice for those who have completed pharmacy school. Pharmacy schools focus on all areas of pharmacy, but retail pharmacy may be emphasized by many schools since this is where many of their graduates will land.
Retail pharmacists prepare and sell prescription drugs that have been prescribed by physicians. Retail pharmacists are typically employed by retail chains or own their own pharmacy businesses. For information on the latter topic, please see the article entitled “Independent Pharmacist.”
A retail pharmacist fills prescriptions brought to the pharmacy or transmitted from a physician’s office. The pharmacist is responsible for mixing and measuring medications according to the doctor’s orders. These prescriptions are then packaged and labeled with instructions for the patient.
One of the interesting components of a retail pharmacist’s job is the counseling that may be requested by patients regarding their prescriptions. Patients may have questions about the route of administration of the medication or the potential adverse side effects of the medication. The retail pharmacist must hearken to his or her knowledge and training in order to explain these aspects of the medication to the patient. Excellent communication skills are important when counseling patients.
Perhaps in no other area of pharmacy practice is customer service more important. A retail pharmacy is meant to be a profitable business venture, and good customer service is key for this type of operation. Some small pharmacy chains may offer incentives to patients to use their pharmacies, such as curbside pickup or even home delivery of medications.
Additional responsibilities of a retail pharmacist may include hiring and training of pharmacy staff, as well as dealing with insurance companies. The retail pharmacist is certainly the pharmacist most visible and most recognized by the general public. For individuals who possess excellent customer service skills, this may be an appropriate area of work.