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Pharmacists form the link between pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical doctors, between doctors and patients, and between patients and their communities. Their role in the health team is to manufacture, prepare and supply suitable and safe medicinal products for the prevention or cure of illness in people.

The nature of pharmacists' work varies depending on their field of employment:

Community pharmacies: these pharmacists work closely with medical practitioners and the general public. They make up medicines according to doctors' prescriptions, as well as on their own initiative. They check the prescribed dosage, see to it that the safety margins are not exceeded and that different medicines that are prescribed together, do not interfere with each other's functions, since some medicines cannot be taken together. These pharmacists advise patients concerning their health, and also supply medicine for less serious illnesses without a doctor’s prescription.

Wholesaler pharmacies and the manufacturing industry: pharmacists in this industry are responsible for controlling the production of medicine. It involves checking all the ingredients, and checking the procedures that are used in the manufacture of medicine. New products are constantly developed and tested to ensure that they are safe and effective. These pharmacists also perform some administrative tasks, such as the preparation of information about new products for submission to the Medical Control Board, the provision of information to physicians, and the planning and marketing of products.

Hospital pharmacies: hospital pharmacists are employed by provincial, private or state hospitals, where they are responsible for routine dispensation of medicine, surgical material and instruments, as well as administrative duties.

Some pharmacists are involved with training and research at various training institutions, whilst others work in retail pharmacies and civil service pharmacies; in the latter case, as administrators and inspectors in government departments.

Pharmacists are found in a wide variety of settings. They may work in a hospital or retail (private) pharmacy, or in a classroom. Where emergency services are provided, employees are required to work after-hours. Pharmacists also work in laboratories or as pharmaceutical manufacturers. Those who work as sales’ or manufacturers' representatives travel to the offices of doctors and dentists and to a variety of health care facilities.

Satisfying Aspects
- working with and helping people
- pleasant working conditions
- variety of interesting specialities to choose from    
- good remuneration

Demanding aspects
- heavy responsibility when dispensing powerful medicines
- being on your feet for long periods
- being on call and having to work evenings,    holidays and weekends

A pharmacist should:
- enjoy working with people;
- have a business sense;
- have scientific aptitude;
- be responsible and accurate;
- have professional integrity;
- have good health and stamina.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Geography

Degree: BPharm - UWC, RU, NMMU, NWU, UKZN, Wits. UL and TUT jointly offer BPharm.

A year of internship needs to be completed in an approved institution, such as a retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, teaching institution or laboratory in the pharmaceutical industry.

After pharmacists have completed both their degree and practical training, they need to register with the South African Pharmacy Council..

- Retail (private) pharmacies
- Hospitals and clinics
- Government departments
- Provincial administrations
- Department of Health
- Transnet
- Research institutes
- Pharmaceutical manufacturers
- Universities
- Own business
- Self-employment, with enough experience and capital, can start own business

South African Pharmacy Council
P O Box 40040
Arcadia, 0007
Tel: 0861 727200 Fax: (012) 321-1492

Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa
P?O?Box 26039
Arcadia, 0007
Pharmacy House
6 de Veer Lane
Arcadia, 0083
Tel: (012) 301-0820 Fax: (012) 301-0828