Pharmacy

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Pharmacy is a demanding profession and one where careless mistakes could have serious consequences. Pharmacists do not simply dispense prescribed medicines. They are experts in drugs and treatments, and are more than qualified to offer advice and guidance.

The Pharmacy Act of 2007 modernised the law governing the regulation of pharmacists and pharmacy practise. The pharmacy technician works alongside the pharmacist and assists in all aspects of pharmacy services. The pharmacy technician helps prepare, check, store, and dispense drugs.

Education

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) is responsible for the accreditation and approval of educational programmes, in particular the three Bachelor pharmacy degree programmes in Ireland. It also is responsible for accrediting the Masters in Pharmacy degree.

Options for students looking to study Pharmacy at university in Ireland include honours degree courses in Pharmacy (level eight), and higher certificates in Pharmacy Technician Studies (levels six and seven).

All candidates should have taken at least one science subject in their Leaving Cert. Pharmacy students take subjects such as Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmacology, Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology. They also learn about the social and professional aspects of pharmacy practise.

On completion, graduates will be aware of the uses and effects of drugs. They will also know how to formulate and dispense. In addition, they will have diagnostic skills and able to advise people on their medication.

Students on a Pharmaceutical Technician Studies course take similar subjects, while their course may also include a period of work placement in a pharmacy practice. Other related CAO courses and careers that students with an interest in Pharmacy might consider include Medicine, Pharmaceutical Science and Chemistry.

Options After Qualification

Upon completion of a Pharmacy degree, graduates spend one year in an approved pharmaceutical institution, under the direct supervision of a registered tutoring pharmacist. The student then sits the Pharmaceutical Licence Examination, and, if successful, can register as a practising pharmacist with the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland.

Most Pharmacy graduates find positions in hospitals or in community (retail) pharmacies, initially as assistant pharmacists. Other Pharmacy graduates enter research, and may also take a postgraduate qualification in an area such as Pharmacology or Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Pharmaceutical research is extensive in Ireland at the moment, offering many opportunities to graduates.

The Work

There are four main areas of pharmacy – community, hospital, industrial, and administrative.

Pharmacists don’t just read the labels on the jars and dole out the tablets; they are also involved in formulation and compounding, which means combining different medicines and ingredients to form correct doses and prescriptions.

Community pharmacy usually refers to working in a shop. People come in with prescriptions and you dispense medicines for them. Therefore, these pharmacists assist people in the community. They also give out non-prescription medicines as well as diagnose ailments, recognise symptoms and offer advice.

The hospital pharmacist compounds and dispenses medicines for patients. In addition, they also bulk manufacture of medicines and sterile products. They work closely with doctors and surgeons.

If working with the public leaves you cold, you can aim to become an industrial or administrative pharmacist. Industrial pharmacists do research and development. They develop new pharmacy products, as well as conduct tests on existing or updated medicines. Administrative pharmacists are responsible for gaining drugs approval from regulatory agencies by collecting and submitting reports on various medications.

Pharmacy technicians usually work in retail pharmacies or hospitals. They prepare and supply medicine, weigh and measure ingredients, as well as check stock levels, keep records and deal with public enquiries.

Personal Qualities & Work Environment

An interest and flair for science is beneficial. Organisational skills can play a vital role in a pharmacist’s success. The hours and work environment depend on the chosen area; they may work in a retail environment, in a hospital, or in a laboratory. The hours are usually regular, although shift-work and being ‘on-call’ are often required.

The Jargon

Pharmacology: The science of drugs, including their compositions, uses, and effects

Dispensing: Distributing in portions or parts

Formulation: To prepare according to a specified formula

Further Resources

Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland


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