Despite the intensive education requirements to become a licensed pharmacist, many fail to realize just how diverse their responsibilities can be. In addition to counting pills and managing prescriptions, many pharmacists are giving life-changing medical care.
With 14 different pharmacist specialties recognized by the Board of Pharmacist Specialties, there is no doubt that pharmacists can have vastly different roles in the healthcare field. While you may be familiar with the individual behind the counter of your local pharmacy, here are six things you didn’t know about other types of pharmacists.
Critical Care Pharmacist
Critical care pharmacists work side by side with doctors and nurses to ensure proper care for the most vulnerable of patients. In addition to coordinating and monitoring therapeutic drug dosing, these pharmacists are also responsible for educating hospital staff on medication-related policies. Critical care pharmacists, such as Patrick Ladapo, have played an invaluable role in the healthcare system’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. While critical care pharmacists are still managing patients’ prescriptions and drug interactions, you won’t be finding one at your local pharmacy.
Solid Organ Transplantation Pharmacist
Solid Organ Transplantation Pharmacists, or simply Transplantation Pharmacists, are critical to the well-being of patients undergoing organ transplants. Both the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) require groups to have a pharmacist on their team to be accredited to perform these surgeries. While it isn’t a requirement for the pharmacist to have specialized in organ transplantation, those who have additional certifications are certainly more desirable.
From chemotherapy infusions to at-home medications, oncology pharmacists coordinate medications needed for fighting cancers. With the plethora of drugs needed to fight off cancer and side effects, oncology pharmacists are critical in preventing unwanted interactions. These pharmacists often work side by side with oncologists to educate their patients on the procedures necessary to administer these vital medications.
Emergency Medicine Pharmacist
Much like the critical care pharmacist, the emergency medicine pharmacist is working directly with the patients in dire conditions. Though they work in the ER as opposed to the ICU, emergency medicine pharmacists are still working alongside doctors and nurses to determine the best medication plans for patients. More hospitals every year are recognizing the advantages of having a pharmacist employed in their emergency department.
Compounded Sterile Preparations Pharmacist
It is well known that maintaining a sterile environment in hospitals is critical for maintaining the health of both staff and patients. Maintaining a sterile environment for the production of patient medication is arguably just as important. Compounded sterile preparations pharmacists ensure the safest procedures for producing drugs that are administered IM, IV, or into the eyes. As these medications are typically prepared in a clean room, you aren’t likely to run into one in the hospital or pharmacy.
Yes, you read that correctly, nuclear pharmacists. Nuclear materials have proven to be useful in diagnosing and treating different states of diseases. Devices and medications that use radioactive materials are not often commercially produced, thus the need for such specialized pharmacists has arisen. Nuclear Pharmacists are trained to handle radioactive materials in addition to biological hazards.
From the cleanrooms where drugs are produced to emergency rooms and intensive care units, pharmacists are needed in many spaces where medical care is given. While their responsibilities may differ, all pharmacists play the most crucial role in delivering patients the medications they need.