What is a Pharmacist?

What is a Pharmacist & What Do They Do?

Publish Date May 20, 2023 4 Minute Read
Author Olivia Kinney, PharmD, MS

You’ve seen them at your local pharmacy, clinic, and hospital, but what is a pharmacist and what role do they play in the healthcare system? On this page, you’ll learn about pharmacists including their qualifications, scope of practice and how they help you live a healthier life.

What is a Pharmacist?

Pharmacists are essential members of your healthcare team, and they provide expert, credible and convenient care. They are trained medication specialists and one of the most accessible providers in your community.

What Qualifications Does a Pharmacist Have?

Pharmacists are highly trained professionals, with most having earned a doctorate degree, known as a Doctorate of Pharmacy, and advanced education in subjects such as pharmacotherapy, medical literature reviews, pharmacy law, biochemistry and patient counseling. Upon graduation, pharmacists voluntarily take a pledge, known as the Oath of a Pharmacist, where they promise a lifetime of service to others.

After passing clinical and law exams and earning their license, many pharmacists pursue additional training through a residency or fellowship program, which provides an opportunity to specialize in a certain practice area. Additionally, all pharmacists are required to regularly complete accredited continuing education courses to ensure they’re up to date on current disease management guidelines, patient safety advances and new medications.

What Does a Pharmacist Do?

Pharmacists can work in a variety of settings, such as community pharmacies, outpatient clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities. In each of these areas, pharmacists play an important role in ensuring patients receive safe and effective medication therapy, but the scope of their role doesn’t stop there.

Personalized Treatment

Pharmacists prepare and dispense prescriptions for the right patient, at the right time and with the right dose, as well as:

  • Identify and prevent medication interactions and adverse reactions
  • Counsel on safe medication use and disposal
  • Maximize the benefit and minimize the risk of a patient’s medications
  • Recommend the right over-the-counter medications for cough, cold, fever, upset stomach and pain relief
  • Educate customers and caregivers on how and when to take medication

Collaborative Care

Healthcare is a team sport, so collaboration with other providers is essential. Pharmacists often lead a team, as well as:

  • Consult with other members of a patient’s health team to promote better health outcomes
  • Interact with insurance companies to identify the most affordable medication options for a patient
  • Connect customers with registered dietitians for personalized nutrition advice and expertise to help you eat and enjoy food
  • Teach and supervise student pharmacists to prepare the next generation of providers

Long-Term Health Management

In 2021, health care spending in the United States increased to $4.3 trillion, or $12,914 per person. To combat these rising health costs, pharmacists can:

  • Complete medication reviews to evaluate more holistic treatment plans
  • Enroll patients in a refill program to make it easier to get medications on time
  • Help prevent or manage chronic diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, through a convenient holistic wellness app
  • Provide point of care testing, including cholesterol, blood sugar and A1c, as well as administer rapid flu and strep tests
  • Administer routine and travel vaccines

What Does the Future of Pharmacy Look Like?

The future of pharmacy is patient-driven, not prescription-driven. At Kroger Health, we envision a world where we fill fewer prescriptions per person, and where we use food as medicine to prevent illness before it starts.

We believe the future of health care is equitable, not exclusive. Pharmacists stand for inclusive, affordable health care. They continue to put purpose before profit while caring for their patients. Their valuable skillset and longstanding relationships with their communities have proven to positively impact health outcomes and provide a more human approach to health.

Find a Pharmacist Near You

Get to know your local pharmacist today, or head to our Health Services Page to access all pharmacy services, The Little Clinic and other health care resources.

Disclaimer: This information is educational only and is not meant to provide healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.