The first pharmacies were known as places to “dispense poisons and pills.” This designation quickly changed to define a pharmacy as an establishment where general medical advice and services are offered. Most early pharmacies sold medicines formulated and mixed by the pharmacist as well as tobacco and “medicines” developed by charlatans. Early pharmacies were the precursors of modern sciences like chemistry and pharmacology. Today a pharmacy is often located within a larger retail establishment and the main purpose of the pharmacy is to store prescription medications and controlled substances.

Pharmacy_1A pharmacist works in a retail pharmacy and is the medical professional who dispenses medications according to orders or prescriptions written by medical professionals. Pharmacists are required to be knowledgeable about the chemistry of drugs, how they react in humans and how different medical chemical combinations interact with other formulations. Pharmacists are also charged with the responsibility to make sure patients do not take medications that are harmful and to educate patients on how, when and where to take mediations and let consumers know the possible side effects of medications.

Pharmacists are required to have a PharmD or a doctorate of Pharmacy in order to work in a pharmacy or any drug dispensing facility. Most pharmacy programs include chemistry, physics, biology, anatomy and physiology. At the end of the college career, potential pharmacists are required to work in clinical and pharmaceutical settings for up to two years. When you go to the pharmacy, know that the pharmacist behind the wall has taken up to eight years to complete a doctoral degree. Continuing education throughout a pharmacist’s career is a requirement of to keep a pharmacy license current. There are times when pharmacists make an error in judgment or fill a prescription wrong. If a pharmacist is found negligent, he or she may be liable for any damages and their license revoked.

Pharmacists not only work in a pharmacy dispensing medications and advice but they can also teach pharmacology and do research in schools of pharmacy. Ambulatory pharmacists manage patients who are at risk for drug-related problems and help those with uncontrolled diseases. Pharmacists are usually the first and most frequently seen health care providers in rural areas and are highly visible in hospitals, care facilities and in geriatric homes.

If you want to know all about a particular medication, contact a pharmacist in a pharmacy. They can tell you all about a drug, the side effects, and the chemical composition, what good the medication does and if there are alternative drugs that may be more beneficial.