Traditionally, we would think of a pharmacist as a healthcare professional who supplies and dispenses medicine, whilst monitoring the quality, safety, and use of medicines, with high levels of interaction with patients. This is, indeed, true, however there are numerous areas in which Pharmacists can work. These are as follows:
- Academia and research
- Hospital Pharmacy
- Industrial Pharmacy
- Managed Healthcare
- Adverse drug reaction monitoring
- Clinical Trials
- Drug abuse counselling/drug information centres and drug utilisation reviews
- Publishing of Pharmaceutical research and articles
- Pharmacy management, with leadership opportunities in the larger pharmacy groups
Given the diversity of opportunities highlighted above, there are good opportunities for pharmacists in South Africa. There is currently a shortage of pharmacists in the country. Many Pharmacists get involved in leadership roles, such as business development and regional managers in the larger Pharmaceutical groups in South Africa (for example, Medirite, Clicks, DisChem etc). Many Pharmaceutical roles require adherence to retail hours which means sometimes having to work late and/or on weekends and public holidays.
Skills required will be dependent on the type of role you are in. In Academia and Research, qualities will be different from those required in retail Pharmacy and leadership roles. The list of qualities described below is not necessarily applicable to all roles, but does provide a good guideline of the qualities required to be a Pharmacist.
- Meticulous, with attention to detail
- Have an interest in Chemistry
- Strong interpersonal, relationship-building and communication skills
- Excellent IT and administrative skills
- Commercial acumen and business sense
- Analytical and strategic capabilities
- Strong personal and professional integrity
- Resilient and resourceful
NSC Matric with English home or first additional language, level 5, Maths level 5 and Life Sciences and/or Physical Science level 5. Depending on the Institution to which you are applying you may require NBT’s.
B Pharm (four years), followed by a one-year internship in the community, a hospital or industry.
Association membership options
Whilst there is a shortage of Pharmacists in South Africa, there are some challenges attaining community service postings, as provincial health departments have scaled back on the number of posts they are able to offer. There are limited options to complete community service in the private healthcare sector.
Once qualified, there are several career path options, as already mentioned.
Given the different types of opportunities available to Pharmacists, there is a demand in this field. As our private health care sector expands and many retailers incorporate Pharmacies in-store, this is a growing field.
Nelson Mandela University
North West University
Sefaka Makgatho Health Sciences University
Tshwane University of Technology
University of KwaZulu Natal (Westville)
University of Limpopo
University of Pretoria
University of the Western Cape
University of the Witwatersrand