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Retail or Hospital Pharmacy?

Retail or Hospital Pharmacy?

By Jennifer LeClaire | Monster Contributing Writer

While their career options have broadened over the years, most pharmacists still work in either retail establishments or hospitals. In which environment would you thrive? Here’s a look at pharmacy work in each setting.

Retail Reality

Retail pharmacists prepare and dispense medications, advise customers about how to use medications and warn them about possible drug interactions. Retail pharmacists also consult with customers about over-the-counter medicines and general healthcare issues.

More on Pharmacists


Salary: $67,860 - $119,480
Min. Education: Doctorate
Related Careers: Physician, Dentist

Retail pharmacists should prefer heavy contact with the public, says Phil Woodward, PharmD, executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association.

“Pharmacy is making a transition into true medication therapy management services with the new Medicare Part D drug benefit,” he says. “That will bring retail pharmacists into more of a consultative role that allows them to get paid for both the product and the service they are providing.”

Hospital Reality

Similarly, those in hospital pharmacist careers provide, prepare and dispense medicines, special feeding solutions and diagnostic agents. They may also consult with doctors about the correct dosage and appropriate form and time of administration, and make physicians aware of any possible adverse reactions. Some professionals in hospital pharmacist positions now make patient rounds.

“Hospital pharmacists work with different types of medications than retail pharmacists,” says Tina Hatzopoulos, PharmD, administrator for the Department of Pharmacy at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “They use IV drugs that need a lot of preparation with a fair amount of calculation, mixing and checking that doesn’t occur in the community setting.”

While most hospital pharmacists don’t have as much patient contact as their retail counterparts, these pharmacists have significant contact with other healthcare providers, such as nurses, doctors and radiologists. They may also be involved in deciding which drugs will be used in the pharmacy.

Common Ground

In both settings, most full-time salaried pharmacists work about 40 hours a week. It’s common for pharmacists to work nights, weekends and holidays; however, some hospital pharmacies are staffed 24/7.

Find out more about Pharmacy Specialties!


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