What Do Pharmacists Do and How To Become One

A pharmacist dispensing medicine
Pharmacy is not just about filling prescriptions, it’s about promoting health awareness and contributing to the betterment of the community.

Posted by freerecruit.co.za

Would you like to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry as a Pharmacist? Below we have compiled a brief overview of what they do, and what you would need to do to become one. We hope that this article helps you. If you find it useful and know of someone else who may benefit from this information, please feel free to share it with them.
Pharmacy is not just about filling prescriptions, it’s about promoting health awareness and contributing to the betterment of the community.

Pharmacists may:

  • Prepare or supervise the dispensing of medicines, ointments, and tablets.
  • Advise patients on how their medicines are to be taken or used in the safest and most effective way in the treatment of common ailments.
  • Advise members of the public and other health professionals about medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter medicines), including appropriate selection, dosage, and drug interactions, potential side effects, and therapeutic effects.
  • Select, give advice on and supply non-prescription medicine, sickroom supplies, and other products,
    Develop legally recognized standards, and advise on government controls and regulations concerning the manufacture and supply of medicines,
  • Work in the research and development of medicines and other health-related products,
  • Be involved in the management of pharmaceutical companies.

Types of Pharmacist:

  • Community pharmacists dispense prescriptions, provide advice on drug selection and usage to doctors and other health professionals, primary healthcare advice and support, and educating customers on health promotion, disease prevention, and the proper use of medicines.
  • Consultant pharmacists are either employed by community pharmacies or hospitals or are self- employed and contract with community pharmacies to provide medication reviews for residential care or ambulatory care patients and/or other medication-related cognitive services.
  • Hospital pharmacists operate as part of a healthcare team and are involved in monitoring medication usage, counseling patients, providing drug information and advice to health professionals and the community, conducting clinical trials, and preparing products for patient use. They usually have a lot of contact with other health professionals and members of the public.
  • Industrial pharmacists undertake research and the development, manufacture, testing, analysis, and marketing of pharmaceutical and medical products.

Pharmacists also work as locums and in fields such as the military, law, journalism, academic teaching, research, pharmaceutical policy and in rural and remote areas, and even abroad.

Requirements & Studies to become a Pharmacist

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course,
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course,
  • Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.
  • Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences,
  • Recommended Subjects: Geography,
  • Completion of Degree: BPharm – UWC, RU, NMMU, NWU, UKZN, Wits. UL and TUT jointly offer BPharm.

A year of internship needs to be completed in an approved institution, such as a retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, teaching institution, or laboratory in the pharmaceutical industry. After pharmacists have completed both their degree and practical training, they need to register with the South African Pharmacy Council.


Accreditation of Courses

All the course/learning programs that lead to registration of persons must be accredited/approved by the Council. The following qualifications are accredited/approved by Council, i.e: Bachelor of Pharmacy which leads to registration as a National Certificate: Pharmacist Assistance to registration as a Basic Pharmacists’ Assistant; Further Education and Training Certificate: Pharmacist.

Assistance to registration as a Post-Basic Pharmacist’s Assistant and supplementary training courses i.e. primary care drug therapy course (PCDT) and family planning. Council also accredits the National Certificate Pharmaceutical Sales Representation course. Council will soon be accrediting new courses/learning programs e.g Pharmacy Technical Assistant, Pharmacy Technician and Authorised Pharmacist Prescriber.

In order for a course to be accredited/approved an Application form for Courses/Learning Programme should be completed and be submitted to Council according to Council specifications.

Providers who wish to offer a Bachelor of Pharmacy qualification must comply with the Standard as set in the monitoring tool (An assessment tool for Pharmacy Schools) as set by Council. Providers who wish to offer short courses/CPD must comply with the Criteria for the approval of a short course/learning programs for the purposes of continuing professional development as set by Council.

A provider who wishes to offer a National Certificate: Pharmacist Assistance, Further Education and Training Certificate: Pharmacist Assistance and National Certificate Pharmaceutical Sales Representation must comply with the Guidelines for Minimum Criteria for the Approval/Accreditation and Registration of Providers, Courses and Assessors as set by Council.


In terms of the Regulations relating to the registration of the Specialities of Pharmacists Council recognises Masters Programmes for registration as Specialists. There are two specialties currently registerable with Council, i.e. Radio-Pharmacy and Clinical Pharmacokinetics.

Obtaining a BPharm degree at any South African University does not necessarily entitle you to register as a pharmacist in South Africa.  Registration as a pharmacist is controlled by the South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC) through legislation and regulations from the Department of Health and Foreign Workforce management as stipulated by SADC and other bilateral agreements.

For more information and details please visit the SAPC website at http://www.pharmcouncil.co.za/ or please find their contact details below:

SAPC Office operating hours (Mondays- Fridays)        08:00 – 16:30
SAPC Contact Centre (Mondays- Fridays)      09:00 – 16:00
Weekends and public holiday      Closed
SAPC Customer Care line:      0861 7272 00 or +27(0)12 319 8500
Facsimile      +27(0)12 321 1492/+27(0)12 321 1479
E-mail address:      customercare@sapc.za.org

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