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Pharmacy Definition

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Pharmacy is the science and technique of preparing and dispensing drugs. It is a health profession that links health sciences with chemical sciences and aims to ensure the safe and effective use of pharmaceutical drugs.

The scope of pharmacy practice includes more traditional roles such as compounding and dispensing medications, and it also includes more modern services related to health care, including clinical services, reviewing medications for safety and efficacy, and providing drug information. Pharmacists, therefore, are the experts on drug therapy and are the primary health professionals who optimize use of medication for the benefit of the patients.

An establishment in which pharmacy (in the first sense) is practiced is called a pharmacy (this term is more common in the United States) or a chemist's (which is more common in Great Britain). In the United States and Canada, drugstores commonly sell medicines, as well as miscellaneous items such as confectionery, cosmetics, office supplies, toys, hair care products and magazines and occasionally refreshments and groceries.

In its investigation of herbal and chemical ingredients, the work of the pharma may be regarded as a precursor of the modern sciences of chemistry and pharmacology, prior to the formulation of the scientific method.

The field of pharmacy can generally be divided into three primary disciplines:

Pharmaceutics
Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
Pharmacy Practice

The boundaries between these disciplines and with other sciences, such as biochemistry, are not always clear-cut. Often, collaborative teams from various disciplines (pharmacists and other scientists) work together toward the introduction of new therapeutics and methods for patient care. However, pharmacy is not a basic or biomedical science in its typical form. Medicinal chemistry is also a distinct branch of synthetic chemistry combining pharmacology, organic chemistry, and chemical biology.

Pharmacology is sometimes considered as the 4th discipline of pharmacy. Although pharmacology is essential to the study of pharmacy, it is not specific to pharmacy. Both disciplines are distinct. Those who wish to practice both pharmacy (patient oriented) and pharmacology (a biomedical science requiring the scientific method) receive separate training and degrees unique to either discipline.

Pharmacoinformatics is considered another new discipline, for systematic drug discovery and development with efficiency and safety.

Professionals

The World Health Organization estimates that there are at least 2.6 million pharmacists and other pharmaceutical personnel worldwide.

Pharmacists

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals with specialised education and training who perform various roles to ensure optimal health outcomes for their patients through the quality use of medicines. Pharmacists may also be small-business proprietors, owning the pharmacy in which they practice. Since pharmacists know about the mode of action of a particular drug, and its metabolism and physiological effects on the human body in great detail, they play an important role in optimisation of a drug treatment for an individual.

Pharmacists are represented internationally by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP). They are represented at the national level by professional organisations such as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in the UK, Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PSA), Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA), Indian Pharmacist Association (IPA), Pakistan Pharmacists Association (PPA), and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). (See also: List of pharmacy associations.)

In some cases, the representative body is also the registering body, which is responsible for the regulation and ethics of the profession.

In the United States, specializations in pharmacy practice recognized by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties include: cardiovascular, infectious disease, oncology, pharmacotherapy, nuclear, nutrition, and psychiatry. The Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy certifies pharmacists in geriatric pharmacy practice. The American Board of Applied Toxicology certifies pharmacists and other medical professionals in applied toxicology.

Pharmacy technicians

Pharmacy technicians support the work of pharmacists and other health professionals by performing a variety of pharmacy related functions, including dispensing prescription drugs and other medical devices to patients and instructing on their use. They may also perform administrative duties in pharmaceutical practice, such as reviewing prescription requests with medic's offices and insurance companies to ensure correct medications are provided and payment is received.

A Pharmacy Technician in the UK has recently been referred to by some as a professional. Legislation requires the supervision of certain pharmacy technician's activities by a pharmacist. The majority of pharmacy technicians work in community pharmacies. In hospital pharmacies, pharmacy technicians may be managed by other senior pharmacy technicians. In the UK the role of a PhT in hospital pharmacy has grown and responsibility has been passed on to them to manage the pharmacy department and specialised areas in pharmacy practice allowing pharmacists the time to specialise in their expert field as medication consultants spending more time working with patients and in research. Pharmacy technicians are registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The GPhC is the regulator of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises.

In the US, pharmacy technicians perform their duties under supervision of pharmacists. Although they may perform, under supervision, most dispensing, compounding and other tasks, they are not generally allowed to perform the role of counseling patients on the proper use of their medications.

Education requirements

There are different requirements of schooling based on the area of pharmaceuticals a student is seeking. In the United States, the general pharmacist will attain a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (Pharm.D.). The Pharm.D. can be completed in a minimum of six years, which includes two years of pre-pharmacy classes, and four years of professional studies. After graduating pharmacy school, it is highly suggested that the student go on to complete a one or two year residency, which provides valuable experience for the student before going out independently to be a generalized or specialized pharmacist.

The curriculum created for a Pharm.D. is made up of 208-credit hours. Of the 208-credit hours, 68 are transferred-credit hours, and the remaining 140-credit hours are completed in the professional school. There are a series of required standardized tests that students have to pass throughout the process of pharmacy school. The standardized test to get into pharmacy school is called the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). In a student's third professional year in pharmacy school, it is required to pass the Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA). Once the Pharm.D. is attained after the fourth year professional school, the student is then eligible to take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) to work as a professional pharmacist.

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