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Poison Control Pharmacist: Education and Career Information

The world of pharmacy is continuously growing. There are a number of specialty careers that enhance the level of interactivity when dealing in the pharmaceutical industry. If you are looking for a varied experience and want to have an additional challenge in this field, you should consider becoming a poison control pharmacist.

What does a poison control pharmacist do?

A poison control pharmacist is a pharmacist that works with medical professionals and sick patients on drugs and toxicity. You will usually find them working in a poison control center fielding calls from parents who have questions about their children ingesting certain things, or calls from a physician on certain medications and their expiration dates. This position must use all the clinical knowledge they have acquired in making fast decisions and answering questions correctly to treat patients correctly and administer the right answers to clinicians and healthcare personnel.

Poison control pharmacists also develop action plans for handling poisonous and hazardous chemicals, toxins, or interactions with harmful drugs. Poison control centers operate 24 hours a day, so the work conditions and days fluctuate on a consistent basis. Poison control pharmacists also conduct training and disseminate information on poison prevention and the toxicity of certain drugs and their combinations. Poison control pharmacists also work in hospitals, state poison control centers, at universities and in consulting firms.

How much does a poison control pharmacist earn?

Since this is a specialty position, the pay is usually over $100,000 per year. The pay can be even higher in high demand areas. Pay rates also fluctuate based on the experience and education. Obtaining special certifications can also contribute to higher pay rates.

What skills are required for success as a poison control pharmacist?

There are a number of skills required to be successful as a poison control pharmacist. In addition to the regular skill set, a poison control pharmacist must:

•Be able to communicate with healthcare professionals and members of the public over the telephone during a crisis
•Have a working knowledge of crisis intervention techniques and procedures
•Have data entry and documentation skills
•A strong knowledge of pharmacology and toxicology

Other skills needed for this position include:

Management: A poison control pharmacist must be able to delegate and manage a number of people at one time. Being able to juggle a number of initiatives, projects and situations at one time is important.

Active listening: Being able to hear what others are saying, even in a crisis situation is essential. As a poison control pharmacist, you must be able to clearly understand what was taken, when it was taken and use that information to assist.

Monitoring: A poison control pharmacist must have the ability to monitor a situation once directives have been issued to make sure the recommendations given have worked or alleviated the situation to a certain extent.

Instructing: Poison control pharmacists must be able to instruct others on the proper protocols and procedures for handling toxic materials. They must also be able to conduct workshops and other events to prepare other facilities or organizations on risks, challenges and solutions.

Decision-making: Being able to make sound decisions is one of the most crucial aspects of this position. A poison control pharmacist must be sure about their calculations, research and recommendations, as it could make the difference between saving a life, or contributing to their demise.

Critical Thinking: A poison control pharmacist must be able to think critically and quick on their feet in offering solutions to issues that may arise. They must be able to carefully weigh a situation and add value to what they offer to the healthcare professional or patient in their treatment recommendations.

Research: A poison control pharmacist must be able to conduct research on a continual basis to figure out the best way to handle situations, and stay on top of new remedies and drugs that may work better than those that were previously used.

A strong grasp of mathematics, counseling, chemistry and quality control are all essential parts of the skill set needed to become a poison control pharmacist.

Internship Requirements

Although every program has a designated internship requirement, poison control pharmacists have an additional one year residency in poison control pharmacy. Students complete clerkship while in pharmacy school to gain practical skills and professionalism.

Education Requirements

In order to begin a career path in poison control pharmacy, an individual must complete two years of undergraduate study. Although there are not any specific requirements for study, pre-pharmacy students usually complete graduate work in physics, chemistry, biology, and calculus. Many student opt to finish their bachelor’s degree prior to enrolling in pharmacy school and pursue bachelor’s degrees in chemistry or biology.

Once the undergraduate or two-year program is completed, being accepted into an accredited pharmacy program is next. Pharmacists hold a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, which takes four years to complete and covers all the patient-care, scientific and technical aspects of this profession. Coursework in the program includes:

•Disease treatments
•Pharmacy ethics and the law
•Patient care
•Drug absorption
•Medicinal chemistry

After the Pharm.D. program, individuals may undergo additional training. For those seeking a career in poison control, a one year residency is required. After the residency is completed, individuals seeking licensure must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination given by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). There is also a NABP Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam, which tests your knowledge on federal and state laws.

This is a very exciting but demanding position that can make a significant difference in someone’s life, especially if they have taken a harmful substance that could mean the difference between life and death. There is a high level of responsibility associated with this position and it is not for the faint at heart. Crisis situations happen every day and this individual must be able to keep a level head at all times. If you’re up for the challenge, this could be a rewarding and lucrative career path to choose.

Pharmacology Scholarships

Tylenol Future Care Scholarships Express Scripts Foundation American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Foundation Student Scholarship
American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP) Student Leadership Awards Allied Healthcare Scholarship American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE) Scholarships
National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Foundation Scholarships Indian Health Service (IHS) Scholarship CVS Health – Pharmacy School Scholarships
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