Alternative Career Paths for Pharmacists: Part 2

In our last post on alternative pharmacy career paths, we discussed a handful of diverse opportunities those trained as pharmacists could pursue, based on the article by Thora Jones in Pharmacy Times titled “Diversity in Pharmacy: Atypical Jobs for Pharmacists.” Here are some additional career paths to consider besides those involving retail or hospital pharmacy management.

Clinical Research

Drug safety is an important issue that field pharmacists may want to explore when weighing career paths. Pharmacovigilence (PV) relates to the detection, monitoring and prevention of adverse effects of medications and other pharmaceutical products. Job responsibilities include safety evaluation, medical monitoring and consulting, clinical protocol program development and related duties. The goals of PV are to improve patient care and safety as they relate to the use of medicines, as well as to support public health programs by supplying reliable information for the analysis of the risks and benefits of medications.

Many pharmacists in the field of clinical research are involved in the development of experimental medications. According to the Pharmacy Times article, clinical research pharmacists often begin this non-traditional career path with post-graduate fellowships. Responsibilities of clinical research pharmacists include writing protocols and monitoring clinical trials, collecting and analyzing trial data,  publishing clinical study reports and reporting adverse events.

Pharmacy Benefits Management

Pharmacists who are interested in helping to lower the cost of prescription drugs for insured individuals may want to consider working for a Pharmacy Benefits Manager (PBM). In addition to processing prescription drug claims for groups that pay for drugs, such as insurance companies or corporations, PBMs operate mail-order pharmacies, develop and maintain formularies, contract with pharmacies and negotiate discounts and rebates with drug manufacturers.

Even though many PBMs are individually owned, some are subsidiaries of managed care plans, chain drug stores or other retail outlets.  Express Scripts, CVS Caremark and Prime Therapeutics are all examples of larger PBMs.  The top three PBMs each manage about 20% of the almost 4 billion prescriptions dispensed in the U.S. every year.

Nuclear Pharmacy

Nuclear pharmacists specialize in the acquisition, mixing, dispensing and use of radiopharmaceuticals. The goal of nuclear pharmacy is to improve health through the use of radioactive drugs and other products that are used for diagnoses or therapy. Typical procedures involving nuclear pharmacy include bone, heart, breast and liver scans, cancer imaging, as well as brain and kidney imaging. Additionally, radiopharmaceuticals can be used in the treatment of thyroid conditions and some forms of arthritis.

Because pharmacists in this field work with dangerous radioactive materials, nuclear pharmacy has greater regulations and safety guidelines than other pharmacy careers. Those interested in nuclear pharmacy must receive specific training and certification, are required to wear protective gear and are expected to adhere to strict guidelines when handling, transferring and disposing of radioactive materials.

In the next installment of our blog series on alternative career paths, we’ll explore a few more non-traditional paths worth considering when searching for a job in pharmacy.

View the previous post on Alternative Career Paths for Pharmacists here

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