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What Is It Really Like Being a Pharmacist

July 31, 2019 0 Comments

Pharmacists today are just as important and more as pharmacists from earlier in history. In fact, one of the earliest pharmaceutical records for medicine dates back to around 1500 B.C.

But in Australia and other parts of the world, the levels of stress for pharmacists are still high in many cases. It can be challenging, and burnouts do happen even to the best among us.

Whether you are reading this at home after studying or a long day at work, or whether you are at work and having a break, we hope you enjoy reading the below key highlights that we hope make you feel proud to be a pharmacist.

Being a Pharmacist

The stress and challenges of pharmacists

What can community pharmacists provide?

Pharmacists in 2023: Key points from the Pharmaceutical Society Australia

Famous pharmacists


The stress and challenges of pharmacists

Last week, we wrote about The Power of the Pharmacy Industry in Australia. And let’s be honest, pharmacies play an invaluable part in the healthcare industry.

But unfortunately, there is also a high chance of burnout as is outlined in this report from the Australian Pharmaceutical Publishing Company last year.

Pharmacists are becoming conditioned to working 10, sometimes up to 13 hours a day. Generally also in noisy environments with the constant pressure of prescription requests. If you then also combine factors such as onsite staff turnover rates, a lack of quality training for new pharmacists and a lack of appreciation for your work, the outcome can be burnout.

And those are just some of the examples of pressures at work pharmacists face. There are additional pressures lingering in the background that they need to cope with.

One of the biggest and silent pressures is actually the customers’ safety. Whether the pharmacy is using written or electronic prescriptions, deciphering a doctor’s handwriting or their notes can be daunting. And plenty of doctors’ prescriptions can also contain quantity errors for the medicine.

Just imagine for yourself – you have a limited amount of time per customer to educate them on the medicine, while trying to decipher the notes and quantities prescribed by the doctors or else you risk causing potential harm? Or if a customer comes without a prescription, with general questions and minor ailments and in some cases have also tried to pre-educate themselves with doctor Google? Tough situations that happen far too often.

Man Holding Red And Blue Pills

What can community pharmacists provide?

There are multiple services community pharmacists can provide. All of these benefit the communities in Australia and can work closely together with GPs, Allied Health and hospitals.

While these are only served as guidelines, they paint a picture of the areas pharmacies can support their communities with.

Medicine Advice

Safe advice about how to take over-the-counter and generic medicines best suited for the customer.

General Health Advice

Help with minor ailments and lifestyle choices. This includes the right education for topics such as coughs and colds and flu shots, post-natal care, diabetes, asthma and lifestyle adjustments like wellness, weight and smoking.

Wound Care Advice

Help to manage minor injuries and educate customers about applying dressings and compression garments.

Health Checks and Assessments

Help with providing certain health checks and assessments such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar tests. The test results should then still be discussed with the customers’ GP.


Appropriately trained pharmacists can help with approved vaccinations depending on the location.

Advice for Children and Babies

Help with a range of common baby conditions including nappy rash, eczema, constipation, pain, fevers and teething. Some pharmacies also have onsite baby care services.

Medical Certificate

Provide customers with a medical certificate for absence from work.

Sleep Apnoea Advice

Educate about the risks of sleep apnoea and provide support with home-based sleeping tests.

Pharmacists in 2023: Key points from the Pharmaceutical Society Australia Report

With these challenging conditions in mind, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia published a report earlier this year about ways to empower and optimize the pharmacy professions as a valuable team member in Australia’s healthcare.

The key points of recommendation are:

  • Embedding pharmacists in other teams where medicine is used frequently such as medical centres, residential care facilities and Aboriginal health services.
  • Since it is estimated 60% of Australia’s adult population have low levels of health literacy, pharmacists can be better supported to optimize medicine safety and evidence-based education of medical expertise and activities.
  • Greater support for pharmacist-led vaccination programs to protect the immunity of infectious diseases and overseas travel.
  • Support and desire for pharmacy services to be remunerated through a consultation fee reflecting the time and complexity of the services needed. An appropriate model could be the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
  • Stronger recognition of the critical contributions pharmacists provide in Australia by recognizing specialisations, support for pharmacist prescribing and an increase in the remuneration to qualified pharmacists.

These key points are meant to serve as a roadmap towards common goals in healthcare. On the one hand is Cooperation, where pharmacists can be embedded with other areas in medicine and work alongside. On the other hand, is also a stronger Focus towards the services pharmacies can provide, the stress levels of pharmacists at work and recognition of their contributions and hard work.

Blue Boxes In Pharmacy Storage

Famous pharmacists

You may or may not already know, there have been several notable pharmacists throughout history. We have summarized a few below that have immensely impacted the world since their days of working in a pharmacy.

Benjamin Franklin (scientist, inventor and pharmacist in the early apothecary days) was a store clerk dispensing medicine, herbs and other early cures. In his lifetime he played a key role in creating the first public hospital in the United States including the first hospital pharmacy.

John Pemberton (pharmacist) we can thank for inventing Coca Cola. He created a syrup for medical purposes and started selling it to other pharmacies in his city at a price per glass. Later he added carbonated water and the rest became history.

Caleb Bradham (owner and pharmacist) we can thank for inventing the competing cola drink, Pepsi Cola. If these 2 men never worked as pharmacists, we cannot even imagine what kind of other drinks might have been invented instead.

Charles Alderton (pharmacy technician) we can thank for another famous drink, Dr Pepper. Charles worked at a corner drug store and loved his job of mixing medicines and the smell of the drugs so much, in his spare time he served drinks with syrups and this later became the drink a lot of us still love to drink on occasions.

Agatha Christie (author, previously nurse and pharmacy technician) became one of the best selling novelists of all time. To this day she still has a large fanbase and many books worth reading. And in a lot of these books, she used her work experiences for inspiration.

Wilbur Scoville (pharmacist and pharmacological researcher) was credited with creating the Scoville scale of measuring how hot peppers and chillies are. If you love chilli no doubt you would have heard of Scoville mentioned.

Sir Alexander Fleming (pharmacologist) and Friedrich Serturner (pharmacist) are also worthy of mentioning – they are credited with discovering Penicillin and Morphine respectively.

But perhaps the most famous example of someone who worked in a pharmacy prior to achieving their success is actor Chris Hemsworth. The pharmacy Chris used to work at allowed pregnant women to rent milk extractors. His job was to sterilize them when the mothers returned the pumps.

Sizzling Cold Glass Of Coke On Ice

What do you plan to do with your career in the pharmacy industry? We would love to hear from you.

At Gorilla Jobs we can put you in touch with a large network of pharmacies across Australia looking for qualified and friendly staff. Schedule a time to speak to our Senior Consultant Sean Kelly and find out more about what pharmacy jobs and career advice suit you.

This week’s Gorilla Update also includes news for our Doctors and Medical Imaging divisions. We also have more information and useful tips on our Blogs page.

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