The roles and responsibilities of a clinical pharmacist

If you’re researching into the role and responsibilities of a clinical pharmacist or are looking for information on how to become one, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve covered everything you need to know in this article:

What is a clinical pharmacist?

A clinical pharmacist plays an important role in guiding and managing patient care. They’re responsible for medication therapy and patient outcomes, with a large focus on medication optimisation and patient health progression. They also support health promotion and disease prevention.

Clinical pharmacists work across many different healthcare settings. They’re a valuable source of information for patients and healthcare professionals, providing advice and education on optimal, safe, and cost-effective medication use.

How to become a clinical pharmacist

To become a clinical pharmacist, you’ll need to study medicine at university and gain a master’s degree in pharmacy (MPharm). This comprises a five-year teaching programme, with both academic and clinical-based learning. The entry requirements for these university programmes are usually three A-levels (or equivalent) including one in chemistry, along with an A-level in a second science or mathematics.

Sometimes, vocational qualifications are accepted by universities, including BTEC Level 3 programmes, National Extended Diplomas in Applied Sciences, or Access to HE Diplomas.

You’ll have to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPHC) to be able to practice. Previous NHS experience is often beneficial if you are pursuing clinical pharmacist roles.

What does a clinical pharmacist do?

Clinical pharmacists have a wide range of responsibilities that all contribute to improving the quality of patient care. These include:

  • Advising other healthcare professionals
  • Prescribing and informing patients on medication
  • Monitoring patient progress
  • Contributing to research, development, and optimisation

Advising other professionals

The role of a clinical pharmacist involves working as part of a multidisciplinary team, advising and supporting other healthcare workers to provide patient services. You’ll consult others on appropriate medication and dosages and also advise on the correct administration.

Prescribing and informing patients on medication

Clinical pharmacists can prescribe medication and give patients personalised, face-to-face medication advice.

When discussing long-term conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, and arthritis, a clinical pharmacist can also educate patients on healthy lifestyle changes. They may also conduct health checks such as taking blood pressure, or schedule appointments for further tests, such as blood tests.

Monitoring patient progress

Reviewing patient records, monitoring patient health, and evaluating conditions are all important parts of the job.

Clinical pharmacists need to be able to review the efficacy and suitability of medicines prescribed and observe how a patient’s medications are working together. They’re also required to form a comprehensive picture of a person’s health to determine the correct ongoing course of action.

Clinical pharmacists work together with the wider healthcare network. So, if untreated health problems are identified while monitoring patients, they can be referred to appropriate physicians.

Contributing to research, development and optimisation

Clinical pharmacists can also help to influence the future of patient care, in collaboration with other healthcare professionals. They can assess the results of pharmaceutical treatments, and maintain accurate documentation around medication plans and patient responses, to contribute towards medicine developments and optimisations.

Studying clinical trials and performing medical tests are also responsibilities that clinical pharmacists can perform, which are essential to supporting new advances in medicine.

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Where do clinical pharmacists work?

Clinical pharmacists usually work in GP practices, hospitals, healthcare trusts, and community pharmacies. You can also be employed by pharmaceutical companies.

As a clinical pharmacist, your role can take you across a variety of clinical areas and you can specialise in certain areas of medicine. For example:

  • You can become an oncology specialist clinical pharmacist, working in cancer units of hospitals or at dedicated cancer centres. Here, you support patients in the treatment of cancer and help with cancer research.
  • If you move into the area of ophthalmology, your work as a specialist clinical pharmacist could take place at eye units, theatres, or ophthalmology clinics.
  • You might want to focus on mental health services as a clinical pharmacist, working in inpatient units of hospitals, residential care settings, or outpatient clinics.

If you wish to move into academia, you can pursue a Ph.D. and work for universities and other institutions. You can still practice pharmacy alongside this.

Valuable skills for clinical pharmacy roles

Employers like to see certain attributes when recruiting for clinical pharmacist roles. Valued skills include the following:

  • Confident communication, both verbal and nonverbal, with patients from all walks of life and professionals at different seniority levels
  • A high level of empathy when informing patients about their health or supporting colleagues
  • Research and analytical skills for the development of medication therapy as well as the interpretation of results and findings
  • Good attention to detail when keeping records and other vital documentation, or choosing the right medicine
  • Strong decision-making skills when working with other healthcare workers or selecting appropriate medication

Become a clinical pharmacist with Pulse

You go above and beyond, so we do too.

At Pulse, you’ll find rewarding opportunities that help take your career to exciting new places. Register your interest in a clinical pharmacist job today or see our available clinical pharmacist roles.

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