How to Become a Geriatric Pharmacist

Overview

You must have noticed that the elderly members in your family have a kit or a cabinet that holds all their medical supplies which largely include vitamins, treatments, pharmaceutical drugs and various other medicines. The elderly are more likely to suffer from disorders, illnesses, conditions or diseases which may include diabetes, pain, arthritis, hypertension, and so on. It is through a geriatric pharmacist that elderly people can gain access to their medicines.

A pharmacist that is dedicated to providing medical supplies, pharmaceutical drugs and relevant advice to the elderly patients is known as a geriatric pharmacist. As a matter of fact, this is a one of the many niches of the medical industry and specializes in catering to the pharmaceutical needs of elderly patients.

Educational Requirements

In order to become a geriatric pharmacist you first have to undergo the same education and training as a pharmacist. Students must successfully clear the PCAT (pharmacy college admission test) which is a test specially designed for students looking to enroll in a pharmacy degree program. An undergraduate degree in pharmacy must be completed that will include important courses such a biology, pharmacology, pharmacy practice, chemistry, physics, microbiology, nutrition and various other pharmaceutical science courses.

The main difference between a general pharmacist and geriatric pharmacist is that of certification. The Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy (ccgp.org) can provide this certification. Here you will learn the fine points on becoming a successful geriatric pharmacist. However, you must be a licensed pharmacist and possess two years of work experience before you apply for this certification.

Job Duties

The job duties of a geriatric pharmacist are quite similar to that of a general pharmacist. The main difference apart from educational certification is that a geriatric pharmacist specializes in the medicine and treatment of older people. This means they focus on those illnesses, disorders, infections or diseases that are common in the elderly patients.

The interaction with elderly customers and patients is also fairly high for a geriatric pharmacist as compared to that of a regular pharmacist. This list of job duties will give you an idea of what to expect as you start your career as a geriatric pharmacist.

  1. Explain to patients and customers on which medicines to take, how to take them and when to take them
  2. Be ready to answer any and all queries from patients and customers pertaining to pharmaceutical drug usage such as dosages, side effects, cautions, adverse reactions, etc.
  3. Take a brief patient medical history by inquiring about current medication to ensure that there would be no reaction or allergies with other pharmaceutical drugs, food supplements etc.
  4. Monitor the effects of medicine dosages to see if there are any side effects. This will allow you to make changes to the dosages in order to deal with side effects
  5. You may have to perform basic routine tests such a blood pressure, blood sugar and pulse monitoring
  6. Provide consultation to patient as well as their family on how to manage medication. Sometimes you may have gain the family’s support to ensure the patient takes their medicine consistently
  7. Develop medicinal compounds and mixtures of various medications. At times, specially formulated compounds or ointments may need to be created
  8. Maintain inventories and stock counts on pharmacy products such as medicines, pharmaceutical drugs, products and so on
  9. Ensure that products nearing their expiry dates are kept separately
  10. Assist elderly patients to look for their medicine in the isles or on shelves. At the same time you should be able to help them fill out insurance forms

Career Outlook

The average age of the population in the United States is on the rise, which means that the number of elderly people is increasing. As a matter of fact, according to the Administration on Aging, statistics show that by the year 2030, 20 percent of Americans will be aged 65 and older which is actually an increase from 12.4 percent from the year 2000. Another point to note is that with the increase in medical benefits for the elderly, medicine and pharmaceutical drugs are more accessible to elderly patients.

All these points have contributed to an increase in the demand for geriatric pharmacists so that the medicinal needs and requirements for elderly patients can be address.

Salary Prospects

The average annual salary for a geriatric pharmacist is about $111,000 (indeed.com). This figure varies depending on where you work such as clinics, hospitals, department stores and so on. A private practice may offer higher compensations to its geriatric pharmacist than what a public hospital may offer. As you gain more experience in the market, your earning potential may increase.

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