Compounding Pharmacist Job Description
Compounding pharmacists serve one of the most important roles in the healthcare industry, and the prescription drugs they dispense save countless lives. This position is ideal for anyone who enjoys science, medicine, or mathematics, and those who enter the compounding pharmacy field usually have a significant amount of personal freedom on the job. The ability to provide patients with practical information about their prescriptions is also necessary. Most compounding pharmacists work full time, and they are employed in both the public and private sectors.
Compounding Pharmacist Duties and Responsibilities
Compounding pharmacists are responsible for dispensing medications to patients, but their job duties can vary from industry to industry. However, the majority of compounding pharmacists perform the following duties:
Create Compound Medications
Compounding pharmacists specialize in creating customized medications. This is done by mixing various pharmaceutical components to meet the needs of an individual patient. They may also use premixed compounds from drug companies during this process.
Not all the medications dispensed by compound pharmacists are compounded. Most are premeasured and shipped directly from manufacturers. Compound pharmacists are responsible for dispensing these premeasured medications to patients.
Many prescription drugs must be taken with caution, and they may have interactions with other drugs. Patients are often confused about these interactions and potential side effects, and it’s the compounding pharmacist’s job to help patients understand them. Pharmacists may also make recommendations for over-the-counter medications and products.
Contact Medical Professionals and Insurance Companies
Occasionally, prescriptions need to be verified or the number of refills may run out. There may also be problems with insurance or billing. Compounding pharmacists are responsible for reaching out to medical professionals and verifying insurance information.
Manage Pharmacy Inventory
Compounding pharmacists are usually required to keep detailed inventory records. Pharmacists also order prescription drugs to keep the overall inventory current. To track inventory, compounding pharmacists typically use computer programs.
Compounding Pharmacist Skills and Qualifications
Compounding pharmacists should have a strong passion for dispensing prescriptions and interacting with others. To become a compounding pharmacist, individuals will need a PharmD from an accredited pharmacy school. Companies that hire compounding pharmacists also look for candidates with the following abilities:
- Compounding and dispensing experience – this is arguably the most important ability a pharmacist can possess. Compounding pharmacists should be able to effectively mix medications and accurately dispense prescription drugs
- Prescription drug knowledge – compounding pharmacists need a strong understanding of prescription drugs as well as their potential side effects, interactions, and basic chemical properties. They also counsel patients about the drugs they consume from time to time
- Understanding of health insurance – compounding pharmacists frequently interact with health insurance companies for a variety of reasons. They should understand basic insurance terminology and processes, and how they relate to pharmaceutical drugs
- Communication skills – compounding pharmacists often work in retail and hospital settings. They should be comfortable interacting with others and explaining pharmacy-related terms to non-pharmacists. In a retail setting, there is also a need for strong customer service skills
- Attention to detail – compounding pharmacists are tasked with dispensing medications in very exact amounts for extended periods of time. A successful compounding pharmacist should be able to focus and pay close attention to their actions for several hours
Tools of the Trade
Compounding pharmacists frequently use the following tools to carry out their assigned tasks:
- Compounding devices (medicine grinders, mills, mixers, and homogenizers)
- Capsule machines (pill counters, tampers, pill assembly devices)
- Pharmacy software (Compound Assist, Script Assist, and other popular pharmacy programs)
- Standard laboratory equipment (sterilizers, measuring tools, beakers, flasks)
Compounding Pharmacist Education and Training
The education and training needed to become a compounding pharmacist is very rigorous, and most compounding pharmacists will spend at least eight years in school. Four years of undergraduate study and a bachelor’s degree are required. Students must take courses in chemistry, biology, and mathematics during this time, in addition to the courses in their chosen field of study. They also need to achieve a satisfactory score on the Pharmacy College Admission Test and gain entrance to a PharmD program, which lasts a total of four years. During the final two years of their PharmD program, compounding pharmacists complete a residency program in an actual pharmacy. Once a student completes the residency and earns a PharmD, they may work unsupervised as a compounding pharmacist in the setting of their choice.
Compounding Pharmacist Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for a compounding pharmacist is $124,170 a year. Those in the top 10th percentile earn more than $159,410, and those in the bottom 10th earn $87,420 annually. Full-time compounding pharmacists employed by retail stores, hospitals, and private companies usually receive benefit packages that include paid time off, health insurance coverage, and retirement funds. Many employers offer bonuses based on professional performance and longevity.
Industry employment for compounding pharmacists is expected to increase by 6 percent through 2026 – the BLS classifies this rate as slightly below average. The number of compounding pharmacists employed by retail stores is projected to decrease as online and mail-order pharmacies become more popular.
Are you ready to become a compounding pharmacist? Here are some exceptional resources you may want to consider:
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy – the AACP strives to provide individuals and organizations with in-depth information about the pharmaceutical industry and accredited pharmacy schools. There are numerous resources for future and current compounding pharmacy students, as well as those considering the research field
Going to Pharmacy School: The Guide to Help You Get Accepted – as its name suggests, the ultimate goal of this book is to help prospective pharmacists gain entry to competitive pharmacy schools. It provides practical tips to help students ace entrance interviews, pass the Pharmacy College Admission Test, and take the right undergraduate courses. Written by Amanda Graham, this is a must-have resource for anyone seeking a career in pharmacy
Pharmacy for the Curious: Why Study Pharmacy? – authored by the University of Toronto’s Zubin Austin and Pacific University’s Susan M. Stein, this book provides students, parents, and career counselors with a variety of well-supported reasons to study pharmacy
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