Becoming a Clinical Pharmacist

Clinical Pharmacists play a key role in providing medications and monitoring patient health in various health care settings. They dispense prescribed medications to patients as well as assist physicians and other health practitioners regarding medication. Their responsibilities include assisting in diagnosing, selecting appropriate drugs, monitoring the progress of patients’ health, verifying the side effects of the drugs etc. In addition, they offer counseling to patients on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, conduct health and wellness screenings, take proper immunizations etc.

Since these professionals are expert in the clinical effects and composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological and physical properties, they protect the public health by ensuring drug purity and appropriate dosage of medicines. They use special protective equipments like masks, hand gloves etc while working with sterile or potentially dangerous pharmaceutical products.

Clinical Pharmacists work in a variety of environments such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, community health centers, pharmacies, drug stores etc. They work full time. They may be required to work in evenings, nights, weekends and holidays.

Educational Requirements

To become a Clinical Pharmacist, the aspiring candidates must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), which takes approximately four years to complete, with at least one year of clinical rotations doing the work of a pharmacist in practical setting.

These professionals study human anatomy, biology, medicinal chemistry, molecular pharmacology, toxicology, psychology, health assessment, patient care and diagnosis procedure etc.

Licensure and Certification

Since the practice of a Clinical Pharmacist must be licensed in all the states of USA, the candidates have to pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX), a 185-question test that measures a candidate’s knowledge of the practice of pharmacy. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties (BPS) offers exam-based certification to these professionals.

Skill Set

Clinical Pharmacists possess a great deal of therapeutic knowledge and various traits such as clinical problem solving and decision making abilities, understanding of regulations, strong attention to detail, competent in computer operations, empathy towards patients, excellent verbal communication skills, clear focus on quality and effectively counseling abilities etc.

Job Outlook and Salary

The job outlook for a Clinical Pharmacist remains excellent across the USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise by 19% during 2012-2022. The average annual salary of a Clinical Pharmacist was $116,670 in 2012.