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What do you do for a living? I’m a pharmacist. Hospital Pharmacist.

How would you describe what you do? Hospital Pharmacist

I do order entry of physician orders for the medications that they want to administer in the hospital. There’s the patient chart where the doctor will document and write everything that’s going on with the patient and all the medications and tests and procedures that he wants done. When a medication is written it is faxed to the pharmacy where a pharmacist will review the patient’s allergies, other medications that they’re taking, and appropriateness of the dose. We then enter that into a computer system which goes through a pharmacy database and a robot which is linked to that database

There’s a lot of difference between a Walgreen’s and a hospital pharmacy, and I would work in both before I’d ever think about being a pharmacist.

will fill those prescriptions as well as technicians that work within the pharmacy will manually fill those prescriptions and then distribute them to the right patients.

What does your work entail?

The position which I have is a Float Pharmacist which means that in our hospital, each unit of the hospital, whether it be an intensive care unit or the orthopedic floor or the stroke unit, each floor has a specific pharmacist that covers that area and works with those patients, doctors, and nurses on a regular basis. When one of those pharmacists either has the day off or is sick or for whatever reason, the Float Pharmacist will cover those areas.

Quick Facts!

How much do Hospital Pharmacists make? The BLS says Pharmacists median pay is $111,000/yr. Click here to see how much this pharmacist makes.How to become a Hospital Pharmacist? It’s a minimum of 6 years of education including 5 years of pharmacy school. Click here to see what this pharmacist has to say about the schooling requirement.

So, on any given day, I can be working with any floor of the hospital. For instance, this week I’m going to be covering the neuro-trauma ICU and the surgical ICU areas. That specific position calls me to come in at seven in the morning and I’ll leave at 3:30 in the afternoon. I’ll come in, I’ll go down to the ICU, and I’ll go through those reports while entering any orders that come from the physicians. I will answer questions from the nurses. I’ll answer questions from the physicians. Some of the questions might be specifically related to the drugs and maybe what’s prescribed or side effects, dosing questions, others that are usually given by nurses can

I think it’s a really common misconception that a pharmacist is told what to do by the physician and they just do it.

be anything from, Why isn’t my medication here? to Can I get a refill on this?. Certain medications have certain things that we have to monitor with their use. There are some medications that we have to monitor specifically. Drugs that are commonly prescribed together can interact with each other so there’s reports that have to be reviewed. There’s a policy within the hospital that the physician can write a prescription for a medications and the pharmacy is to dose. Which means that the pharmacist is responsible for looking at the patient’s kidney function, blood levels for that specific medication, and can change the doses of the medication based on what our opinion is of how they’re metabolizing that drug. So, there are certain reports that we have to go through every day.

How did you get started?

I thought that I wanted to do something in health care after I was in college for a couple of years and decided to shadow. I ended up shadowing some nurses, a physical therapist, and occupational therapist and then eventually a pharmacist. I liked what I saw when I shadowed the pharmacist. And the one that I ended up shadowing was the director for a hospital pharmacy in the town that I was going to school at. She offered me a job as a pharmacy technician and then I ended up working in the pharmacy.

What do you like about what you do?

I like that I get to be a member of the health care team and involved with health care in general, but I’m not the type of person that would want to have to deal with the blood and the guts and the gore and the actually physically taking care of the patient. I had considered being a physician but I liked that a pharmacist could work 7:00 to 3:30, probably 95 percent of the time. I’m not on call. I don’t get called after work. I have a set salary which is pretty good. If I wanted to go part-time, it’s very easy for a pharmacist to go part-time. You can work two 10-hour days and make the same amount of money that a lot of other professions make full-time. I can leave the profession if I had a child and wanted to step out for five years. It would be very easy for me to leave my job and then have no trouble at finding another job when I wanted to go back to it, even though I’ve been gone for five years.

What do you dislike?

Let’s see, I dislike that a lot of the time I’m in front of the computer. I dislike that a lot of it is kind of repetitive tasks, and that depends on what type of pharmacist you are, too. There are pharmacists that are much more clinical and aren’t doing those repetitive tasks but the position that I am, I do do a lot of that. I dislike that. It depends where you are and who you happen to be working with, but there are some health care professionals that don’t appreciate what a pharmacist can bring to the table. There are those that really do appreciate and acknowledge the knowledge that we have and how we can help them. It kind of depends on where you’re working.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

I make $46.50 an hour. I get paid hourly, but I don’t clock in. So, I’ll get paid for a 40-hour week if I happen to be working my regular shifts. If I need to stay an hour late to finish something then I don’t get paid overtime for that. But if we are short a pharmacists one evening and they need someone to work five hours of overtime,

If I wanted to go part-time, it’s very easy for a pharmacist to go part-time. You can work two 10-hour days and make the same amount of money that a lot of other professions make full-time.

in other words, they ask you to stay late, then I would get paid overtime. But if I’m just finishing something up, then I don’t get paid overtime.

How much money do you make as a Hospital Pharmacist?

About $97,000.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?

To become a pharmacist, it’s a minimum of six years of education. Where I went, you had to have a year of prerequisites which were kind of normal prerequisites of Math, English, all of those things. And then it was a five-year pharmacy program. A lot of people have their four-year Bachelor’s and then decide to go to pharmacy and it’s still five years after that, regardless of if you have a degree or not, you have to spend five years in pharmacy school. That gives you a doctor of pharmacy’s degree.

What is most challenging about what you do?

Probably staying current on everything, on all of the changes and all of the new drugs, and all of the changes in the care of treating a certain disease. There’s guidelines that change all the time, so staying current on everything is probably the most challenging.

What is most rewarding?

Probably that I can be a part of the health care team and help patients while still being able to have the best of both worlds. Having the best of home life and the best of career life. Your schedule, your pay, and the fact that you’re not on call like a physician makes it a lot easier with what’s going on at home. There’s really not a lot of projects to bring home, work doesn’t usually come home with you. Once you leave work, you’re done.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

I went to school with people that had never worked in a pharmacy and just didn’t really know what the pharmacy atmosphere was like. Some people love it and some people would never want to do it. It’s really just a personality thing. So, I would work as a technician in a pharmacy, either a retail pharmacy or in a hospital. There’s a lot of difference between a Walgreen’s and a hospital pharmacy, and I would work in both before I’d ever think about being a pharmacist.

How much time off do you get/take?

It’s weird because the hospital has this earned time off system which means that my holiday time, my vacation time and all of my sick time is in one big bank. So, if I don’t get sick during the year and I don’t have to call in sick, I’ll get more days that I can take for vacation time. But I’d say at least two weeks, maybe three. Once you hit five years, you start earning more time off.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

That all it is is counting pills and entering in a prescription. That’s all a lot of people think a pharmacist does.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

My goal is to specialize in one area, like all the different floors and units I talked about earlier. My goal is to find an area that I love and to specialize in that and then become a decentralized pharmacist. A decentralized pharmacist just means they’re out of that central area, where all the drugs are stored and dispensing occurs, and they’ll work on the floor with the doctors and nurses directly.

What else would you like people to know about what you do?

Just that there’s a lot of things behind-the-scenes things that goes on in a pharmacist’s head, things that we’re thinking about, things that we’re looking out for when we’re looking at a patient and their prescriptions.  I think it’s a really common misconception that a pharmacist is just told what to do by the physician and they just do it. There’s a lot of evaluating whether or not it’s appropriate and then helping the patient monitor their side effects and make sure that they’re educated in all the things that they need to be aware of so that if this medication has a bad side effect or causes something that’s not supposed to happen, they can tell their physician and get it corrected.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Director of pharmacy April 25, 2014 at 9:49 pm

To all who are considering pharmacy .
I like what I do but now is not the time to pursue pharmacy .

It has become over saturated by too many greedy pharmacy schools pushing out students .

These are the ivory tower folks whose only interest is to keep getting students churned out. They are not concerned with you or your job prospects.

It will take some time when the word gets out and the pharmacy schools shutdown for a bit. Until then I would stay clear.

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dannie June 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Do you say this because you are also in the pharmacy field and would not like any more people to get into it (Since it’s so competitive) or do you say this because you are a student that has graduated and couldn’t find employment afterwards? I would like to ask you some more questions about your opinion on this.

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MIT G February 28, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I feel like there needs to be an update to this. Yes Hospital pharmacy is a good job but it is also very competitive now a days. Its getting tougher and tougher to find any pharmacy job. Especially if you are in the big cities. If you are looking at hospital pharmacy you are also looking at doing a minimum of 1 to 2 years residency.

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tina January 25, 2014 at 11:55 am

i have interview with texas children hospital in four days time. could anyone tell me what to expect as a pharmacy technician and a i have iv certificate.

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Cherry April 30, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Did you get the job?

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Udo, Usoro October 25, 2013 at 10:41 am

Dr Boom, thanks for sharing your perspectives on the PharmD curriculum. I’m currently a first year pharmacy student and I completely agree with you. The PharmD curriculum is extremely intense and very clinically based. We learned very similar things to what the medical students learn during our first and second years which include disease states, progressions and which medications to use for each case. Increasingly, Medical and Pharmacy students are training together including on clinical rotations.

As part of the curriculum, pharmacy students have to go on clinical rotations during the ENTIRE last year of school in areas such as hospital pharmacy, the FDA, community pharmacy, pharmaceutical industry where drugs are produced, Internal Medicine, Intensive Care Units etc.

In fact, my PharmD program requires first year and second year students to attend clinical rotations during the summer of our first and second years for additional experience.

If you’re on the fence on whether you want to become a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) or a Doctor of Medicine (MD), shadow both to see which one you like best. Either way, prepare to work hard and to be proficient in your profession. To me, both are exciting health care careers and very satisfying.

After Pharmacy school, you don’t have to go into retail if you don’t want to. There are so many other options available. You can become a Nuclear Pharmacist, a Clinical Pharmacist which include Oncology (cancer), Geriatrics (the elderly), Pediatrics (the young), Nutrition Support and so many others practice areas.
Check out this website (http://www.accp.com/stunet/compass/career.aspx)

Note that this will require a year or two of residency in these specialty areas after Pharmacy school, but you’ll practice in a direct patient care setting afterwards.

BTW: Pharmacists are increasingly being addressed as doctors because they’ve earned their Doctor of Pharmacy degrees (PharmD) just as dentists are addressed as doctors because they’ve earned their Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDS) degrees. If that’s important too you to be addressed as a doctor because YOU’VE EARNED IT, just know that this is happening.

Don’t worry about the misconceptions that most people have about what Pharmacists do, once you become a student pharmacist or a Pharmacist, make it part of your goal to educate the public about what we do. Make a difference.

I hope this give you a better idea of Pharmacy school and the professional practice, and aids in your decisions. Goodluck on your choices.

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SAID August 30, 2013 at 7:41 am

I am a B.PHARM student at UWC, i totally agree the fact that most people assume pharmacy practice is all about counting tablet.Yes, counting tablets is one aspect of in order to dispense correct quantity of therapeutic dose over a given period of time.Any error in miscounting may cost a life. Pharmacological details and deep knowledge of Pharmacokinetic, Pharmacodynamic and drugs interaction pursued by pharmacist are much greater compared to general introduction to basic pharmacology pursued by other health personals. Pharmacist play major roles in society, serves as first and last contact in health circle. We treat, refer,check if prescription make sense, dispense ,advice and follow up. However,no Health professional are superior over the others of course the level of specialty varies but at the end of the day it all about team work. Pharmacists are the people who are trained to value intersectral collaboration.

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Violet January 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Hi,thanks for your appropriate information. actually i have my bachelor of Microbiology from back home and i am interested to continue my study as a pharmacist.However i do not have any experience or idea regarding to this point ,so i am looking for any volunteer opportunities in pharmacy field in any hospitals in Toronto.i will appreciate if someone guide me to the proper way because i have some more questions such as do i need to take some prerequisites and which university is more flexible ?

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David Lopez June 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Awesome article. Definitely gave me the motivation to get my shadowing started. Much appreciated.

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Tammy February 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm

With our baby boomers retiring, an aging population to tend to and the fact that our nations citizens are consuming more complex prescriptions- not to mention multiple prescriptions at a time, the need for Pharmacists is and will be greater than ever as the potential for dangerous drug interactions will grow and the need for Pharmacists to become more involved in the individualized care of the patients becomes more prevalent (counseling a more called for service, etc.). In fact, it’s just a matter of time before Pharmacists are working in the doctors’ offices, and nursing/rehab facilities- if you haven’t already seen it in your area. The employment of Pharmacists is expected to grow by 17% before 2018, with excellent job prospects over the 2018 period. I just heard a story the other day of someone being offered a pretty nice contract- they’ll be finishing up with their PharmD this spring. It’s happening. I live in a very rural VT area (where I promote healthcare careers to youth).

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Roger February 25, 2012 at 7:41 pm

Her bit about disliking being in front of the computer sounds familiar. As a hospital pharmacist myself, more technology is being implemented which requires the pharmacist and the pharmacy technician to spend a lot of time in front of the monitor. This definitely wears out my eyes, and makes me want to look out the window or somewhere else. Of course many hospital pharmacies do not have windows, and are located in the basement of the hospital. Technology does streamline a lot of processes and cuts down on laborious record keeping which would otherwise make many more processes repetitive if we did not have the technology.

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Jen February 25, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Hello,
I am currently a sophomore in high school greatly interested in the pharmacist career. My dad knows a lot about the job for some reason and ever since I was little he has been telling me about it. I’ve also done lots of research on the career myself, including a little of the career of a pharmacologist and some other medical professions. Therefore, I pretty much know what a pharmacist does, what it takes and how to become a pharmacist. I don’t take any honor or AP classes at the moment and I have gotten 3 C’s so far. I know this sounds terrible and all. I lacked focus and was a little indifferent. I am actually very smart and possess great potential (I don’t mean to sound pretentious or conceited). Up to this point I always liked the arts more and tended to fall through a bit in math/science. However, my interest in the medicine field has been increasing greatly lately, causing me to begin attaining high grades in math/science and I like/understand them more. My brother graduated from a prominent Ivy League school and recently he spoke with me about life, my future, etc. I feel that I have experienced an epiphany after that talk. I feel that I have transformed in a way and I feel a little like a different person who wants to achieve to high extents. I know I have made mistakes and I may now not be an ideal pick for pharmacy schools, but I think that if from now on I maintain a high or perfect GPA, take challenging, advanced courses (including APs, etc.), get high scores on big exams (SAT, ACT, etc.), and do lots of volunteer work, I may still have a chance to get accepted to a relatively good pharmacy school. I want to take that 6-year pharmacy program that is 2 years undergrad and 4 years pharmacy school. What do you think about my position at the moment? Do you think I have a chance at getting accepted into pharmacy schools if I change my academic lifestyle from this point on? I really feel that this path suits me. I can see myself as a [hospital] pharmacist and I accept the cons about the job, too.
Your response/advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time!

Your response/advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time!

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Barbara February 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts,I will be done with my Associates degree in October I did a lab class at the Florida hospital and going back for my internship because I don’t really want to work in retail pharmacy I really want to try to be a sales rep to see if I would like it..so Im continuing my education anyways to become a PharmD that’s my goal but I’ll be working in the hospital rather than cvs or wAlgreens but sales rep sounds interesting as well…

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julie December 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm

I agree with dan d. It seemed weird to read that she can get back to finding a job after 5 years off… It’s very hard to find a job nowadays as a pharmacist post grad, so think carefully if you want to choose pharmacy. Remember pharmacy school takes 6 years and the unemployment rate will only go up each year. I would rather suggest a job like nurse, area where people are still needed.

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dan d November 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm

As a current pharmacy student, this post is dated. Since this time, the vast and continuing proliferation of schools have caused a severe job shortage. It is expected that unemployment will be more common, much like law and MBA grads in the near future. The points of overtime, part-time work are no longer applicable. I cannot recommend this job. The powers that be in pharmacy are not interested in protecting the profession.

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donna Guillen November 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Thank you for taking the time to write about your job. My daughter is a Junior @ UCSD in the Pharmacy program. This article makes it all more realistic about her dream. It’s a hard course but hey…you get paid in the end for all the hard work and studying. As iv’e heard you pretty much have a NICE LIFE after all that sacrafice in the stydying dept.
You can more or less be THE BREADWINNER in the family if your ok with that…not too many other profession’s make more money than that…except maybe a Doctor or Lawyer..with all the headaches to go w that. Thank you again it was very infomative

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lavanuru aravind bose November 1, 2011 at 4:40 am

its very good to know all these things about a pharmacist

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francisco July 14, 2011 at 10:05 am

I want to be a pharmacist. I think its a pretty cool job. This was some good info I could use this in da future wen I go to college.

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McCall June 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm

This was very helpful. I always wanted to talk one on one with a pharmacist. I needed a real persons perspective, how it went along with real life. Thank you.

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dhrashti June 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm

this website is giving very good information about pharmacist and how they feel about their job

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Debbie April 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

I am currently studying to become a Health Information Technology Engineer specializing in the implementation of Electronic Health Records for medical practices/hospitals/etc. Can you tell me what your thoughts are on EHR? What do you feel are the pros/cons of EHR? How have the changes in HIPAA privacy and security changed the way you do business? Thanks so much in advance for your feedback.

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drew September 22, 2010 at 8:13 am

thanks

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drew September 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm

yo does anyone know if this interview was answered personally by someone or just made to be generally what everyone thinks, cuz i cant seem to find a name of the interviewed here on the page?

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trave45 September 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Hi, thanks for the comment. All the interviews are of real people
and their real jobs. I’ve intentionally left their names
off most of the interviews because I ask for salary information and other details about their jobs that some people are uncomfortable answering publicly.

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ANN? September 7, 2010 at 10:28 pm

ANN, MD

Pharmacists are a good line of defense against quick-thinking MDs that overlook facts and “underthink” before they speak. You being one. No where in the article did anyone claim a pharmacist personally corrects prescriptions.

Cheers,
Neurobiologist (we think LOTS before we publish)

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Ann September 4, 2010 at 8:55 am

If you want to have true patient care become a physician and not a pharmacist. That is a total misconception that the pharmacist can have direct patient contact on a prescription. It is one against the law to practice medicine without a license and two is against the ethical standards of the AMA.

Sure a pharmacist can tell a patient that there is contra-indication of a certain drug or combination of drug, but the only who can correct a prescription is a licensed Medical Doctor and NOT a pharmacist in any of the 50 states in the US. Other countries can have other rules, but practicing medicine without a license is an E-Class Felony in all 50 states. Sorry it needs a correction.

ANN, MD

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devin February 25, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I totally agree with you…while clinical pharmacy at its best does have many patient care attributes…the only way to really understand the full pathogenesis of the disease process, its implications both biologicaly, socially and in the greater context of a patients family is in the from the physicians point of view. As a 4th year medical student now who spent 8 years prior as a retail pharmacist I can tell you my misconceptions and the steep learning curve I had to endure. Sure I had a major advantage in pharm and on rounds where I have been able to recite doses that some of the residents dont even remember. But as I sit here cramming for Step2Ck…their is absolutely no comparison to the amount of dedication, sacrafice and committment needed to become a doctor. I wouldn’t go back on my decision ever, my background helped me approach patients but also blind sided me at times. In pharmacy when you think diarrhea, a couple of things come to mind. however when you look at the varying differentials by age group, the potential relationships with other illnesses, or even surgical emergencies in given patient populations the answer is not as simple as it may seem. To understand why we use medications, is to understand the nature of dissease itself, and to understand that is to have a solid background in general and systemic pathology combined with years and years of clinical training on compounded with concurrent didactic teaching. Only medicine does this, not PharmD programs, not PA programs, not NP programs. I enjoyed my previous job and I did both retail followed by a clinical fellowship then hospital pharmacy, but after seeing and living this experience first hand I can say that there is a world of difference between the two. And should be and always will be.
XX MS4, RPh

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DrBoom January 25, 2013 at 1:38 am

The new PharmD curriculum address the problem that you just stated. I have been a graduate of the old curriculum and went back to get my PharmD because of the new health care model. This new curriculum is very intense, based on disease states, taught organ by organ. Pharmo schools are uniting with the med school; my school teaches the first two years with the med students. the last two years , the med students go to clerkship and the pharmos go to more school work in therapeutics. Along the line, the med and pharmos work on projects based on colaboration. I highly suggest this field for any new students. pay will greatly increase based on the new healthcare laws. PharmDs will be paid as consultants under the new law.

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mike May 16, 2010 at 2:44 am

i am a pharmaceutical technologist by profession here in kenya and the perception right here is the same worldwide…just counting pills. i like what’s shared up here!

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Courtney Rider April 1, 2009 at 9:44 am

We are doing a research paper on a career in the health field that we would like to pursue. I would like to pursue being a pharmacist. Is it alright if I interview you for my paper?

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Tati November 26, 2008 at 3:25 pm

Excellent!!! deep and clear.. thanks!! Want to now what her name is

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Anne September 25, 2008 at 4:10 pm

What is the name of the person being interviewed in the “Interview with a Hospital Pharmacist”?

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Amanda August 25, 2008 at 6:51 pm

i don’t know if i should do this or be an orthodontist.
which one should i choose?

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faith August 15, 2008 at 3:51 pm

mostly appreciated. full of information and depth. helps students like me get a glipse of their future career and other students who are unsure if pharamcy is for them.
thank you ever so much

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star August 14, 2008 at 6:36 am

i think pharmacy is not the subject i like and i should leave it and maybe studying medicine.

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Nikko Roa May 11, 2008 at 11:48 pm

This was some really helpful and insightful information! Thank you very much for sharing what you know with us! It’s not too often that we come across a website with information regarding actually working within the pharmaceutical industry and what the job really entails.

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Undergraduate March 18, 2008 at 1:55 am

Sweet! Information relating to hospital or clinical pharmacy is pretty rare on the net. Thanks for sharing!

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