To many people, a Pharmacist is someone who wears a white coat and works behind a counter filling our prescriptions, or providing advice to treat common ailments. We put our faith into a pharmacist, and don’t normally take the time to think about what it takes to be one.

Pharmacy is one of the most trusted professions in the world generally and in Zambia specifically and has had a strong presence in the communities of the world for over 150 years.

Pharmacy is more than preparing or dispensing drugs and reaches far beyond the community shop-front level. Although some areas of pharmacy are not widely recognised, they often contribute to the better running of our everyday lives.
From high school to professional practice
The field of pharmacy science is broad, challenging and potentially lucrative.

While entry to courses and the profession is competitive, there is ample opportunity for those with talent and commitment.

The five key steps

• Study chemistry, mathematics, and other appropriate courses in high school (check with universities for course pre-requisites).
• Obtain your Pharmacy degree from one of the many PSZ-HPCZ recognized institutions in the country. This can take up to five years before your are put on provisional registration.
• Pass the PSZ-HPCZ registration requirements before beginning internship training.
• Participate in an internship program under the direction of a registered pharmacist to become qualified to practice pharmacy in Zambia.
• Continue your professional education (CPD) through periodic PSZ-HPCZ CPD courses as required by law.

What Pharmacists do and where they work

Pharmacy is not just about filling prescriptions. it is 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 recognised 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.

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.

Outside the square and going places: Pharmacists also work in other fields such as the military, law, journalism, academic teaching, research, pharmaceutical policy and in rural and remote areas, and even abroad.