Registered Pharmacist (RPh)

Pharmacists (registered pharmacist, RPh) are health professionals who are responsible for the safe and effective use of medications. Traditionally, pharmacists have been trained to compound and dispense medications to the patient. Most pharmacists practice in community pharmacies. Community pharmacies can be independent (privately owned), chain (Rite Aid, etc), grocery store or “big box” (Target, etc). Historically, most pharmacies were independent but the numbers of privately owned pharmacies have decreased over the last few decades. A significant number of pharmacists are employed in hospitals. In particular in larger university hospitals, pharmacists can specialize in areas (pediatrics, critical care, etc). A smaller, but growing number of pharmacists work in outpatient clinics but they can also be found in the pharmaceutical industry, the armed services, public health and other settings. Pharmacists must earn a 4-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) Degree (after at least two years of pre-professional college level work). Nearly 20% of pharmacists enter into post-graduate residency training programs to prepare them for advanced practice areas. The profession of pharmacy is rapidly changing as more pharmacists are taking on direct-patient care activities (medication management, immunization) and are moving away from the simple role of dispenser. Pharmacists are important members of the health care team as they can provide important contributions to patient care regarding medication use.