Pediatric Pharmacist: Education and Career Information
Pharmacy is very lucrative, but there are some specializations within the field that go unnoticed. One of these specializations is pediatric pharmacy. A pediatric pharmacist is a growing field that has been forecast to grow 14% from 2012 to 2022. As medications and other treatments are introduced, having pediatric pharmacists on hand to educate parents and work with other pharmacists in recommending the right treatments for pediatric patients is important. This is an ever-increasing and ever-changing role within the medical field. You can find pediatric pharmacists in hospitals, pharmacies and pediatric doctor’s offices. There are some pediatric pharmacists that work in big business, helping to develop medicines and working to create regulatory procedures.
What does a pediatric pharmacist do?
A pediatric pharmacist is a licensed healthcare professional who writes prescriptions, provides counsel to patients and their parents on the medication they are taking and helps track their progress to make sure there are no side effects or harmful outcomes from the drugs being prescribed. They also work to improve patient health through education of medicines and their effects. Other duties of a pediatric pharmacist include:
•Evaluation of new medication to recommend the most effective treatments for patients.
•Advising health care workers and other physicians about medication selection and how to administer it.
•Monitoring of the recommended medical therapy to ensure its effectiveness.
•Acquiring and maintaining the medication supplies that meet quality standards.
•Managing the storage of medication and supplies to ensure potency and freshness.
•Conducting quality checks to pinpoint harmful reactions, interactions and mistakes from drug dispensation.
Pediatric pharmacists work directly with the pediatric care team in hospitals and other medical facilities to evaluate high risk medications, chemotherapy and the effects of certain antibiotics. They also educate healthcare professionals, workers and assist with pain management of inpatient and outpatient children.
How much do pediatric pharmacists earn?
Pediatric pharmacists on average earn about $111,350, but starting out it could be around $90,000. Increases come with location, experience, and education. This career field is very lucrative, with the pay scale fluctuating based on what role you play in the field. Salaries for pediatric pharmacists are much higher on the corporate side.
What skills are necessary to be successful in this field?
There are a number of skills necessary to be successful in pediatric pharmacy. Although pharmacy is a highly specialized field, working with pediatric patients can be challenging. These are just a few skills that make an impact on how the role is carried out. A pharmacist is always learning and tries to fully understand how medications are not only made, but why they react differently in pediatric patients. Knowing how to assess, evaluate and treat a patient is the first on this list:
•Good sense of memory
•Good math and science skills
•Comprehensive grasp of preparing drugs
•Drug knowledge and assessment
•Ability to work with others
•Ability to supervise others
•Good communication skills
•Administrative, technical and organization skills
•Ability to teach others
•Good bedside manner
•Critical thinking skills
•Problem solving skills
•Good decision-making skills
Clinical experience is done throughout a Pharm.D. program, with Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences done during the first two years, and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences done in the final two years, where students are placed in patient care settings. When pursuing an advanced degree after the Pharm.D. program, an additional year or two in clinical rotations will be required. These residency internships after the Pharm.D. program are strictly voluntary, but will be beneficial in pursuing the pediatric pharmacy specialization.
Most people who are interested in a career in pharmacy enter into a pre-pharmacy program. If their institution does not have one, they can still take the desired coursework to prepare themselves for pharmacy school. Most students complete three to four years of a bachelor’s degree program, with most of them completing the bachelor’s degree prior to entering into a pharmacy program. There are a number of majors that can be pursued while preparing for the program:
Once you have entered pharmacy school, an additional four years is required to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.). This will prepare you for work in the profession. Coursework in the Pharm.D. program includes:
•Pharmacy ethics and law
•Drug absorption rates
All throughout the Pharm.D. program, you will be required to have clinical training. This training will take place under the direction of licensed pharmacists to provide hands-on practical training to help you become familiar with what occurs in this career and to see how the coursework can be applied into the everyday setting.
After completion of the Pharm.D. program, students must take the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacists Licensure Examination), which tests applicants on dispensing medications, pharmacotherapy and providing healthcare information. Every state has their own stipulations, but all students must complete the MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination) or the state exam, which tests applicants on legal theory of pharmacy, licensure requirements and laws that regulate the profession. Some states also require applicants to have a background check as a condition of licensure, and some states have an age limit on taking the exam.
There is additional training available after the Pharm.D. is obtained and the test is passed. This residency program is geared toward specializations – in this case, pediatric pharmacy. The residency usually lasts between one to two years and allows the student an opportunity to complete research and work directly in different facilities. Many schools have these advanced clinical training programs in pediatric and neonatal pharmacotherapy and pharmaceutical care. Mandatory rotations include:
•Neonatal Intensive Care
•Pediatric Intensive Care
•Pediatric Infectious Diseases
•Pediatric Emergency Department
Helping the field of pediatric medicine advance is a rewarding career choice. Pediatric pharmacy is a perfect choice if you like working with children or prefer research in the pediatric field.
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