There are many different types of pharmacy, and other places where a trained pharmacist may work.
Also known as a retail pharmacy, the community pharmacy is the most well known type of pharmacy. It is this type that is most traditionally known as the pharmacist or chemist shop. A community pharmacist usually works in a store that provides the community with access to the medications they need, as well as advice to promote the safe and effective use of the medicines they provide. They can tell their customers what drugs may interact with each other or with alcohol, and help prevent dangerous or troublesome combinations or side-effects of medication. Helping patients with the reimbursement of drug expenses, supervising pharmacy technicians and keeping inventory of the drugs stocked also make up part of their duties.
A hospital pharmacy is the place where the management of medications occurs in a hospital, medical clinic or nursing home. A hospital pharmacist often works in close collaboration with other health professionals to ensure that the medication regimen for each patient is optimized to achieve the best outcomes. They may also be involved with clinical trials, as well as compounding medications for individualized dosing or sterile medications. Teaching, administrative functions in the selection, proper storage, distribution and prescription protocols of drugs, education of medical staff in the aspects of selection, administration and monitoring of drug safety, as well as assessing drug levels and drug safety may all be part of their work. Hospital pharmacists may be inpatient or outpatient pharmacists, and may also specialize in one or other area of pharmacotherapy.
The clinical pharmacy exists in a number of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and other medical centers. The aim of clinical pharmacy is to ensure the optimal use of medications for the best outcomes through the provision of drug information and monitoring for drug safety and efficacy. They can predict drug interactions and so prevent many adverse reactions to medication.
A compounding pharmacy involves the production and preparation of medicines in new forms. This may include reformulating a powder tablet to a solution, which can assist in the administration of the drug for certain patients.
A compounding pharmacist may work in a community, clinical or residential-based setting, depending on the purpose of their formulation. They may also dispense ready-made medications in some circumstances.
The consulting pharmacy is a relatively new branch of pharmacy, born in 1990. It focuses on the theoretical review of medications rather than dispensing medicines. Consultant pharmacists often work in nursing homes or visit patients in-home to provide their services, in order to enable them to use medications most effectively.