Pharmacy as a Profession

Pharmacy is a dynamic, information driven, patient-orientated profession whereby the pharmacist, through his competence and skills is committed to meeting the health care needs of his patients. Pharmacists are relied upon to be responsible in numerous areas of health care including being the:

  • Custodian of medicines
  • Formulator, manufacturer, distributor and controller of safe, effective and quality medicine
  • Advisor on the safe, rational and appropriate use of medicine
  • Provider of essential clinical services including screening and referral services
  • Provider of health care education and information
  • Provider of pharmaceutical care by taking responsibility for the outcome of therapy and by being actively involved in the design, implementation and monitoring of pharmaceutical plans
  • Provider of cost-effective and efficient pharmaceutical services

In addition, the Pharmacy profession is showing an advancement in different aspects such as research into new drugs to treat previously untreatable diseases and the modification of existing drugs to ensure that patients have the optimal treatment and recovery options available to them.

Sadly, in South Africa, there is an extreme shortage of pharmacists. Due to this reason, those who choose to make Pharmacy a career will be guaranteed a job upon completion of their degree. This profession is also guaranteed to provide immense job satisfaction, especially to those who are passionate about improving the lives and well being of others.

There are a wide variety of career options available to qualified Pharmacists who want to climb the ladder in the Pharmacy profession or work in the many different areas that Pharmacy has to offer. The profession is also intellectually challenging and offers attractive remuneration packages for those who qualify.

Career Opportunities:

The many career opportunities that are offered in the Pharmacy profession including but not limited to:

Community pharmacy

This is the most popular career choice and pharmacists are either employed in a private capacity or in chain pharmacies. This allows patients to easily access medical advice and pharmaceutical care by interacting directly and privately with the pharmacist. It is the ideal career choice for those who prefer to work with people.

Hospital pharmacy

These pharmacists are involved with hospitalised patients as well as outpatients. In addition to the responsibilities of a community pharmacist, hospital pharmacists must assist medical practitioners and nurses in clinics and provide advice on the correct dosages and use of medication to the patients.

Consulting pharmacy

Medical schemes are employing pharmacists as clinical pharmacists and health care managers in order to provide advice on preventative health care and life style improvement. Some pharmacists also have independent consulting practices.

Industrial pharmacy

For individuals who prefer an industrial or research environment as a career, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry offers a promising possibilities.Industrial Pharmacists are involved in a range of capacities, e.g. research in the development of new drugs or new dosage forms, supervision of the manufacturing process of medicines, its quality assurance, marketing and distribution, clinical trials and the registration of medicines by the Medicines Control Council.

Academic Pharmacy

Those who prefer to educate and guide the future Pharmacists in this country would prefer academia. Academia allows for personal growth and provides a sense of achievement through those that you teach. Academic Pharmacists play a role in education, policies, review committees as well as continuing research.

Requirements to study Pharmacy:

In order to be admitted into a tertiary institution to study Pharmacy in South Africa, one has to comply with certain conditions such as:

Grade 12 with university exemption for a Bachelors degree:

  • Maths
  • Physical Science
  • Life Sciences is recommended
  • A relevant APS score (University dependent)

Upon completion of the four year B.Pharm academic programme, one year of internship and another year of community service must be completed. Thereafter, the pharmacist is free to practice in whichever branch of Pharmacy that they choose. Master’s and Doctorate programmes are also available for those who wish to further their studies.

Aside from the B.Pharm programme guaranteeing you a successful job once the program is completed, it includes a variety of fascinating and interesting coursework. It provides you the opportunity to learn pharmaceutical care, pharmacology (the effects drugs have on the body ), medicinal chemistry (design and development of drugs), pharmaceutical analysis and much more.

For more information contact the SAPSF General Secretary (contact details under “contact us”), or find more information under our Branches section.