What does a pharmacist do?

Pharmacist

Where you’ll meet them

In hospital, you may meet a hospital pharmacist either in the hospital pharmacy or on the ward. You’ll meet community pharmacists in your local pharmacy.

What they’ll do

Hospital pharmacists work closely with medical and nursing staff on the ward ensuring medication stocks are available to meet patients’ prescriptions while as an in patient and when they leave hospital. They have input into what medicines are prescribed, what form to prescribe them in and how often. They may also be qualified to prescribe medicines themselves.

Community pharmacists may also have a prescribing qualification, will dispense medicines, and can give advice about improving your health and wellbeing. They may run stop-smoking services, including prescribing appropriate nicotine replacement therapy. They may also do some screening tests such as blood pressure or cholesterol measuring. More senior pharmacists may also get involved in management, teaching and research.

All kinds of pharmacists will speak to patients about the best way to take their medicines, any issues to watch out for, and check for possible interactions with other medicines you may be taking.

Making the most of them

Pharmacists can give specialist advice on medicines and combinations of medicines. They can give tailored advice that is relevant to any conditions you may have, your lifestyle and your own preferences. Don’t miss the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the best way to take your medicines, when or how often to take them, side effects, or which medicines might be most appropriate for you.

Training

At least five years training, including a four-year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree course plus one year pre-registration training in a pharmacy. Many pharmacists have additional training and may progress to consultant level.

Get our guide to 10 questions to ask your healthcare professional

Related publications

More useful information