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Exploring Alternative Careers in Pharmacy
Not Likely to Cause Drowsiness!
By Hannah Roberts
Pharmacists have long been seen as an anomaly in the medical world, since they often work on the "front lines" of the industry—in grocery stores and neighborhood Rx dispensaries. But there are many rewarding, lesser known career options for a pharmacy school graduate that provide a channel for delivering health care and knowledge under nontraditional guiding entities, and in far more diverse settings than the corner market.

Here are just a few of the exciting careers in pharmacy that are among those gaining recent popularity.

Pharmacists in Armed Services

Since no pharmaceutical issue is specific to just one branch of military, the pharmacy leaders at the Department of Defense work together in providing patient services to active troops as well as retirees and their families; providing access to medical services and prescribed medication to active deployed soldiers; and manning the pharmacies at various military outposts around the world—often single-handedly.

A career in military pharmacy is a challenging one since—like many paid positions in the armed forces—the competitive salaries of civilian pharmacists make recruiting and retention difficult. A career in armed forces, however, is one often sought as much for a sense of patriotic duty as financial security, so the industry boasts its fair share of diligent, committed, and highly respected pharmacy technicians.

Academic Pharmacy

The fact that the pharmaceutical industry is attracting more aspiring pharmacists than ever before can be attributed both to the undeniable perks of the job, but also to the success of pharmacy educators in informing the public about a highly rewarding profession.

U.S. colleges and schools of pharmacy employ more than 3,000 full-time faculty members who are directly involved in patient care, public service, teaching, and ongoing research. Many of these educators also serve as liaisons and consultants to local, state, and international organizations to discover new drugs, guide the study of natural medicine, collaborate with other professionals, and gain personal satisfaction from being an integral part of a fast-growing, cutting-edge industry.

Public Health

For prospective students with an interest in community health at large, there are many satisfying opportunities in public health. Pharmacists in the public sector work for agencies that provide vital health care to indigenous groups in the world’s remotest areas, with little or no access to hospitals or health insurance. They work to inform the public about disease prevention through workshops and clinics, and they use cutting-edge technology to diagnose and treat illness at the street level. The same humanitarians report research in such specialized fields as biomedicine and behavior sciences to their contemporaries within the legislative framework to effect healthy change on a macroscopic scale.

As the medical industry continues to move at lightening speed, the need for skilled pharmacists continues to grow. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, pharmacy school is for students who "enjoy working with people, excel in science, and would like a rewarding career in health care." But keep in mind that the world of pharmacy exists far beyond the lab, with opportunities in every imaginable working environment in the world.

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