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Is Pharmacy a Good Career: Insights and Future Trends

Are you contemplating a career in pharmacy and wondering if it's a prudent choice for your future? Well, look no further! 

In this blog, we shall furnish valuable insights into the field of pharmacy and discuss the current and forthcoming trends that deem it a promising career option. 

With the rising demand for healthcare professionals and the escalating complexity of medications, pharmacy offers a fulfilling career for students. 

Join us as we delve into the perks and prospects of pursuing a career in pharmacy.

What is Pharmacy? 

Pharmacy is a vital component of the healthcare industry. It is the science and practice of preparing, dispensing and reviewing drugs and medication to ensure they are safe and effective for patients. 

Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals working closely with doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers to ensure patients receive the best possible care. 

Pharmacists also advise on the appropriate use of medicines, and they play a critical role in the prevention and management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and asthma.

In addition to dispensing prescription medication, pharmacies also stock a range of over-the-counter medicines, health and wellness products, and medical supplies. 

Pharmacies are an essential resource for patients who need access to medications, medical advice, and support for managing their health. They are an integral part of the healthcare system, helping to improve patient outcomes and promote the health and well-being of communities across the globe.

Job responsibilities of a pharmacist

As a licensed healthcare professional, a pharmacist has a range of duties that are critical to ensuring the safe and effective use of medications. 

Here are some of the key job responsibilities of a pharmacist:

  • Dispensing medications: Pharmacists are responsible for accurately dispensing medications to patients. They must carefully review the prescription to ensure that the correct medication, dosage, and instructions are provided.

  • Providing medication advice: Pharmacists are an important source of information and advice on the safe and effective use of medications. 

  • Compounding medications: In some cases, pharmacists may need to compound medications to meet a patient's specific needs. This involves mixing or preparing medications in the appropriate dosage and form.

  • Managing inventory: Pharmacists are responsible for managing the inventory of medications in the pharmacy. They must ensure an adequate supply of medications on hand and that they are stored and handled properly.

  • Collaborating with healthcare professionals: Most pharmacists work closely with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. 

Advantages of pursuing a career in pharmacy

There are many advantages for those who choose to work in this area of healthcare. 

Job stability

One of the main benefits of pursuing a career in pharmacy is job stability and growth prospects. According to New Straits Times, Malaysia’s Health Ministry has plans to increase the number of pharmacist positions in the public sector by approving the creation of 8,686 positions for medical, dental and pharmaceutical officers. This plan is to be carried out from 2022 to 2025, with the aim of ensuring continuity of patient care. 

The employment of pharmacists is projected to continue growing since there is a big ageing population in Malaysia that requires more care and medication.

Diverse work opportunities

Pharmacists are needed in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, community pharmacies, and long-term care facilities. 

For example, if your interest lies in developing new drugs, you can consider employment in a research facility. However,  if you prefer being more hands-on with patients, a hospital setting may be more suitable. 

The following are a few work opportunities for pharmacists:

  • Retail pharmacists

  • Clinical pharmacists

  • Chemotherapy pharmacists

  • Nuclear pharmacists

  • Long-term care pharmacists

  • Research and development

  • Academia

Promising salaries

Another benefit of a career in this sector is its competitive salaries and benefits. There is potential to earn more with experience and specialisation, and pharmacists also usually receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. 

Opportunities for career advancement

Pharmacy is a field that offers numerous opportunities for career growth. Pharmacists can progress from entry-level positions to management roles or choose to specialise in areas such as paediatrics, oncology, psychiatry and more. 

Besides this, there is also the opportunity to become certified in a range of areas, for example, immunisation or diabetes management. 

Making a positive impact on people’s lives

Pharmacists are often the first point of contact for patients when it comes to questions or concerns about their medications. 

As such, they have the opportunity to educate patients about the medication they are taking, monitor their health outcomes, and collaborate with other healthcare providers to ensure the best possible care. It is a field that offers one the opportunity to positively impact people’s lives. 

A chance to start your own business

As you work at/manage a pharmacy, you will also develop the skills and knowledge that will enable you to start your own business. In addition, this career will enable you to be your own boss, which is definitely one of the advantages of being a pharmacist. You can even have people work for you, giving you flexibility in life.

Work in a clean environment

A clean environment is necessary for healthcare centres or pharmacy stores to prevent the possibility of disease outbreaks. As such, cleanliness is a vital part of the job. Thus, pharmacists generally work in a hygienic environment, which promotes happiness and contentment. 

Emerging trends in the pharmacy industry

The pharmaceutical industry is constantly changing and advancing, and there are several emerging trends that are shaping the future of this field. 

Growing demand for speciality pharmacists

One of these trends is the growing need for pharmacists trained to provide complex medication therapies for patients with chronic or complex conditions. For instance, patients who are being treated for HIV, cancer, or multiple sclerosis. 

As the number of patients with these conditions continues to increase, the demand for specialisation among pharmacists is also expected to rise. 

Use of technology in pharmacy practice

Another trend emerging in the pharmacy industry is the increased use of technology in pharmacy practice. 

For example, electronic health records are increasingly used to manage patient information. 

Technology is also enabling pharmacists to better monitor patients’ medication adherence and health outcomes, which can improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. 

The increasing role of pharmacists in healthcare teams

Pharmacists are increasingly being recognised as key members of healthcare teams who work collaboratively with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive patient care. 

In fact, a 2019 literature review suggested that pharmacists in primary care resulted in reduced general practitioner (GP) workload and emergency department attendance. There was also a reduction in the overall costs of the healthcare system. 

Expansion of telepharmacy services

Another example of how technology is changing this field is how telepharmacy enables the provision of medication remotely. It allows pharmacists to provide medication use review services remotely. 

This can be particularly beneficial for patients in rural or underserved areas who may not have easy access to a pharmacist or to healthcare in general. 

Challenges in the pharmacy industry

The pharmacy industry, although a vital part of the healthcare system, faces a number of challenges that can impact the quality of patient care. The following are some of them:

  • Rising drug costs

  • Drug shortages

  • The increasing complexity of medications

  • A constant need for new research

  • Regulatory requirements

  • The need for integrating new technology 

Overall, these challenges require ongoing attention and investment to ensure that patients receive the best possible care and that pharmacists are equipped to meet the demands of their profession.

Are pharmacists in demand in Malaysia? 

Pharmacists are highly sought-after in Malaysia, owing to the country's rapidly expanding healthcare industry. 

With an ageing population and an increasing prevalence of chronic ailments, there is an escalating demand for medication and pharmaceutical services. 

Furthermore, the Malaysian government has acknowledged the importance of pharmacists in the healthcare system and has implemented various initiatives to support the profession's growth. 

These include funding for pharmacy education and training, extending the scope of practice for pharmacists, and promoting collaboration between pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. 

As a result, pharmacists in Malaysia have excellent employment prospects, with numerous opportunities available in both the public and private sectors, including hospitals, clinics, and retail pharmacies.

Job prospects after a pharmacy degree

Here are some potential job prospects for individuals who have completed a pharmacy degree:

  • Community pharmacists: They advise and help dispense medication in a community pharmacy setting.

  • Hospital pharmacists: They work in hospitals to ensure patients receive the correct medications and doses, as well as handling and storing medicines safely.

  • Pharmaceutical research: This is suitable for Mphil/PhD Pharmacy graduates who prefer working in drug development, regulatory affairs, medical information, and other areas in the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Academic roles: These include teaching and conducting research in universities and research institutions.

  • Regulatory bodies: This includes working for regulatory bodies to ensure medicines and medical devices are safe and effective.

  • Primary care network pharmacists: They work within a primary care network to support general practitioners (GPs) and other healthcare professionals. 

Pharmacist salary in Malaysia

The salary of pharmacists in Malaysia varies depending on their qualifications, experience, and type of employment. However, according to Payscale, the average annual salary for a pharmacist in Malaysia is RM 60,374. 

Source: Payscale

Is pharmacy the right career path for you? 

Are you drawn to the fields of science and medicine? 

Do you find joy in helping others and paying attention to details? 

If so, a career in pharmacy may be an excellent fit for you! However, before making any hasty decisions, it's crucial to understand the benefits and challenges of pursuing a career as a pharmacist.

Researching and speaking with current pharmacists for a better understanding and perspective is recommended to determine if this is the right career for you. You may also consider discussing with career counsellors like those available with the University of Nottingham Malaysia’s career advisory services

How to become a pharmacist? 

To become a pharmacist in Malaysia, individuals typically need to complete these steps:

  1. Complete your pre-university education after high school or secondary school. For instance, A-Levels, STPM, or a Foundation in Science will prepare you for an undergraduate degree in pharmacy. 

  2. Enrol and complete an undergraduate degree approved by the Pharmacy Board Malaysia (PBM), such as the University of Nottingham’s Pharmacy BPharm (Hons), Pharmacy MPharm (Hons), or Pharmaceutical and Health Sciences BSc (Hons). These programmes usually take three to four years to complete. 

  3. Complete an internship or work placement to gain practical experience in the field. Some pharmacy degree courses include internships as part of their programme. 

  4. Sit for and pass the Pharmacy Board Malaysia (PBM) examination to become a registered pharmacist. 

  5. Obtain a licence from PBM to practise as a pharmacist. 

It is important to note that these requirements may vary depending on the state or territory you’re in. 

Concluding Remark

To summarise, pharmacy is a promising career path with excellent job prospects, making it an attractive option for those interested in the healthcare industry. 

With an increasing demand for medication and pharmaceutical services, pharmacists play a crucial role in maintaining community health. Furthermore, advancements in technology, changes in healthcare policies, and the evolving role of pharmacists in healthcare are opening up new opportunities. 

This means that pharmacy graduates can expect diverse career options and a chance to make a meaningful impact on society.

Overall, as the healthcare industry continues to grow, the demand for pharmacists will likely rise, making it an exciting time to be a part of this field!

Interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy? Check the University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy, where students receive a well-rounded education to help them succeed academically and professionally. 

Posted on 19th May 2023

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