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Community pharmacist: Job description

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A community pharmacist is responsible for dispensing and distributing medicine. They work to legal and ethical guidelines to ensure the correct and safe supply of medical products to the general public.

Community pharmacists work in high street pharmacies, supermarkets, local healthcare centres and GP surgeries. They are involved in maintaining and improving people's health by providing advice and information, as well as supplying prescription medicines.

Community pharmacists also sell over-the-counter medical products and instruct patients on the use of medicines and medical appliances.

Some pharmacists will offer specialist health checks, such as blood pressure monitoring and diabetes screening, and run stop-smoking clinics and weight-reduction programmes.

Typical work activities

Community pharmacists work in customer-facing roles and provide an increasing range of services. Their tasks involve:

  • dispensing prescription medicines to the public;
  • ensuring that different treatments are compatible;
  • checking dosage and ensuring that medicines are correctly and safely supplied and labelled (pharmacists are legally responsible for any dispensing errors);
  • supervising the preparation of any medicines (not all are supplied ready made-up by the manufacturer);
  • keeping a register of controlled drugs for legal and stock control purposes;
  • liaising with doctors about prescriptions;
  • selling over-the-counter medicines;
  • counselling and advising the public on the treatment of minor ailments;
  • advising patients of any adverse side-effects of medicines or potential interactions with other medicines/treatments;
  • preparing dosette and cassette boxes, usually for the elderly, but also for those with memory/learning difficulties or who have several combinations of tablets to take, where tablets are placed in compartments for specified days of the week;
  • undertaking Medicine Use Reviews (MUR), an advanced service to help patients understand how their medicines work and why they have to take them;
  • managing a needle and syringe exchange;
  • measuring and fitting compression hosiery;
  • monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels;
  • offering a diabetes screening service;
  • arranging the delivery of prescription medicines to patients;
  • managing, supervising and training pharmacy support staff;
  • budgeting and financial management;
  • keeping up to date with current pharmacy practice, new drugs and their uses.

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Written by AGCAS editors
June 2015

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