A career in pharmacy can follow many pathways, each with its special demands and rewards. Perhaps the most firmly established image of the pharmacist in the mind of the American public is that of the community pharmacist. A majority of those students who complete the academic program in pharmacy do practice in community pharmacies. These pharmacists perform the extremely important public health function of providing responsible drug distribution in diverse communities with all of the counseling and advising activities that are needed for the safe and effective use of these potent medications.
However, as essential members of the total health-care team, increasing numbers of licensed pharmacists are found in practice centers such as hospitals, community health-care centers, nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities, where they serve as the specialist in the use of drugs to manage medical conditions. Others may choose from the profession's offering in research, drug testing and quality assurance, administration of managed-care programs, and manufacturing and marketing. Still others may elect to teach, work with professional pharmacy associations or serve in a variety of capacities with federal and state agencies and associates.
Some of these pathways may be demonstrated by the following list of special practice areas that are to be found throughout the health care system. These are specialty areas where individual pharmacists provide a unique service to a particular type of patient.
- Administrative Pharmacy Practice
- Adult Clinical Pharmacy Practice
- Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Practice
- Clinical Pharmacokinetics Practice
- Drug and Poison Information Practice
- Geriatric Pharmacy Practice
- Intravenous Therapy Practice
- Nuclear Pharmacy Practice
- Oncology Pharmacy Practice
- Pediatric Pharmacy Practice
- Psychopharmacy Practice
In all of these areas, society will require competent and devoted health care professionals to serve as the link between drugs and society. Pharmacists are especially educated to fulfill these expectations and can expect these kinds of opportunities to continue to expand. As a support to these newer and more demanding practice systems, the profession of pharmacy has established a unique Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties to examine pharmacist applicants and award proper "Board Certification" in the areas of nuclear pharmacy, nutritional support, and pharmacotherapeutics.