A community pharmacy is also called a retail pharmacy. Community Pharmacist dispenses both non-prescription and prescription medication with properly authorized prescriptions to patients. Also, they offer medication counselling after dispensing. A community pharmacy is a primary health caregiver and provides drug and medical information to other health caregivers and the public.
Community Pharmacists work in pharmacy practice stores. Community Pharmacy practice is one of the major types of professional pharmacy practice alongside Hospital Pharmacists, Industrial Pharmacists, Academic Pharmacists, and Regulatory Pharmacists. There are other emerging specializations in developed countries such as clinical pharmacy, ambulatory pharmacy, consulting pharmacy, ambulatory pharmacy, home care pharmacy, etc.
A community pharmacist should possess relevant skills such as a sense of responsibility, customer service relation, good communication skills, analytical skills. He must be organized and well-calculated, calm and confident in nature, accurate, meticulous, and possess teamwork.
In some countries, a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy is enough to practice as a pharmacist, while a Pharm. D degree is the minimum requirement in some countries.
Only pharmacists licensed by the pharmacy regulatory body in a country are free to run a community pharmacy. However, a non-pharmacist can own a community pharmacy, but a pharmacist must be present to dispense medication and perform other pharmaceutical care functions.
Sections in a community pharmacy include Prescription drugs, OTC (over-the-counter medications), Cosmetics, and Pharmacy preparation are kept. There are also consulting rooms, and a Poison section (for controlled medications). This poison section is not visible and accessible to patients. A community pharmacy should have other staff such as pharmacy technicians, accountants, sales assistants, cashiers, and cleaners.
Community Pharmacy is supposed to offer quality service delivery to patients. The International Pharmaceutical Federation, FIP in 2005 developed the Quality Care Standards for community pharmacy practice, and also the Good Pharmacy Practice guide.
However, in countries mostly in Asia and Africa, some community pharmacies have been guilty of dispensing prescription drugs such as drugs for chronic conditions, antibiotics, oral contraceptives without a prescription. In Nigeria, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, and the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria are the major players in ensuring good community pharmacy practice.
Though most community pharmacies are individually owned, some community pharmacies operate as chains with many branches across the country, e.g. CVS, HealthPlus, Walgreens Company. They are very common in the US. Pharmacy chains have at least different four stores. Pharmacy chains give pharmacists two major job roles -staff and management.
A community pharmacist can work as a Pharmacy Manager, Superintendent Pharmacist, or part-time as a Locum Pharmacist. In our previous post, we explained the key difference between a Superintendent Pharmacist and a Pharmacy Director
Duties of a Community Pharmacist
According to the FIP guide, the four major competence of a community pharmacist is to Prescribe, Dispense, Administer, and Review. However, pharmacists are not permitted to prescribe medications in some countries. Some duties of a community pharmacist are:
- Attending to patients and understanding their conditions to help in recommending medications.
- Professional approach in attending to patients.
- Makes sure there is a record of controlled drugs. Controlled drugs must be well guarded and dispensed only by the pharmacist.
- Partake in Continuing Education Program to keep abreast with current drugs, advances in pharmacy and pharmacy practice.
- Contribute in the financial management and budget of the pharmacy.
- Compounds certain medication for patients.
- Helps patients with routine health checks such as Diabetes Monitoring, High Blood Pressure check.
- Provide drug information such as adverse drug reaction, interaction to patients.
- Supervise and trains other staffs in the pharmacy.
- Analyse the prescription from a physician and makes sure it is appropriate before dispensing.
- Dispense medications to patients, and giving clear instructions and label to aid patients.
- Offer medication counselling and pharmaceutical care services.
- Overall management of the pharmacy, staffing, stock taking.
- Educates patients on healthy lifestyle.
The Salary of a Community Pharmacist
Pharmacists work an average of 8-12 hours per day, depending on the pharmacy arrangement. A community pharmacist earns around $97,206 and $123,276 yearly in the United States according to Salary.com. This depends largely on the qualification, experience, and skills of the pharmacist. In Canada, a community pharmacist earns around $97,000 per year.
In the UK, a qualified pharmacist can earn around £30,000 to about £35,000. With experience, the salary can move to over £45,000. In Nigeria, a community pharmacist earns around N150,000 to N250,000 per month depending on the location of the pharmacy and the job description.