How To Choose Your Pharmacy Work Setting ::

The majority of pharmacists work in the retail sector. But, as a pharmacist plotting your career path, you may want to explore other options, and with the advances in medicine and information technology, there are a number of different career paths open to pharmacists.

Another popular work setting among pharmacists is hospital pharmacy, and this may be something of interest if you are looking for a different kind of challenge. Here are some of the key differences between retail and hospital pharmacy.

Job Responsibilities

Although hospital pharmacists dispense medications like retail pharmacists, the job responsibilities in a hospital pharmacy are more challenging than those of a community pharmacy. The hospital pharmacists prepare and compound medications. They deal with a larger range of medications, including more specialized types of drugs for various illnesses than are usually available in a retail pharmacy.

Hospital pharmacists also compound treatments such as total parenteral nutrition and other drugs that are given intravenously, such as neonatal antibiotics and chemotherapy.

Hospital pharmacists may also become more involved in the direct treatment of patients as part of a healthcare team, making recommendations for the types of drugs that should be used and managing the medication treatment that patients are receiving.


Hospital pharmacists also need more training than their counterparts in a retail setting because of the complexity of the treatments they have to deal with. For example, some retail pharmacy positions may not require certification and license, while almost all hospital pharmacy jobs require these qualifications.

Work schedule

Most retail pharmacies have regular business hours, with some evening work possible. However, the work hours in a hospital can be very different because they operate on a 24-hour a day schedule.

Hospital pharmacists may be required to work evening shifts or night shifts as well as during weekends and holidays.

Patient contact

Another big difference between the two settings is the amount of interaction that pharmacists have with patients.

Hospital pharmacists may deal with patients as part of a healthcare team, but retail pharmacists generally spend much more time with patients because they are filling prescriptions and counseling customers about how to take the drugs.


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