THERE is tremendous scope for research and higher studies in pharmacy and job opportunities are vast. In the last few years, there has been a revolutionary growth in every area of the pharma field. With the increasing number of life-saving drugs and new methods and techniques of manufacturing and analysis of drugs, the responsibility of pharmacists has increased considerably.
Hospital Pharmacy and Community Pharmacy are emerging in India, which involve planning, procuring, dispensing drugs apart from patient counselling. It is interesting to note that a considerable percentage of drug stores in the US are now owned by Indian pharmacy graduates.State and Central Governments appoint Drugs Inspectors to implement the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. A pharmacy graduate alone is eligible for this post and they are the only regulators in the field of Drugs Control Administration.
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A career in the field of pharmaceutical education combines teaching with research and sometimes, administrative activities. Though the posts require M.Phar/PhD degree, it is not difficult as the government and pharmaceutical industry support PG and research students through scholarships and fellowships. Research in drug development is another exciting area. In India many pharmaceutical industries like Dr. Reddy’s, Ranbaxy, Cadilla, Glenmark, Cipla, Aurobindo, Hetro have excellent divisions in R&D.
A degree in Pharmacy makes you eligible not only to seek employment in various drug, chemical, biotechnology and healthcare industries but also to start your own business. Pharmaceuticals is a fast growing industry. Government-sponsored industries are engaged in manufacture of live-saving drugs while manufacture of a major portion of bulk drugs and formulations is in the private sector. Here a young and enthusiastic pharmacist can make a mark with his entrepreneurial skills. There are opportunities for pharmacy graduates in marketing and pharmaceutical journalism also. They can serve as technical advisors or consultants for project-funding agencies to banks, financial institutions etc. By becoming a manufacturing chemist, a pharmacist can rise from the position of production supervisor to production manager and vice president.
Pharmacy education is set to undergo a sea-change in the next few years. The introduction of Pharm D., a six-year integrated postgraduate programme, is expected to take pharmacy education to international levels. Pharm D., is expected to provide plenty of opportunities to Indian students to practise pharmacy abroad. They can pursue careers in various fields, including institutional practice; community pharmacy practice;managed care; drug information and long-term care; consultant’s role; clinical liaisons with pharmaceutical industry; patient education; and clinical trial research.
The 6-year course provides intensive training in pharmacy practice and clinical pharmacy services. It will include five years of clinical and community-based theory with ward rounds and one-year internship in hospitals. Students will work in coordination with doctors to treat patients. In the final year, the students will come out as clinical pharmacists, an essential component of healthcare, equal to doctors. Graduates will study in detail about drugs for different diseases. Pharmacists will advise patients about dose, action and side effects, while B.Pharm deals with different drug sources, synthesising drugs,formulations, analysis, regulations, pharmacological actions, dosage and toxicology.
In a way, pharmacy is coming full circle, and we’re seeing it lean more towards direct patient care. As the population grows and ages, people are taking more prescriptions, and there is more demand for pharmacists to have hands-on time with patients. More advanced-practice pharmacists are specialising and rounding with physicians and other healthcare providers in hospitals as part of a health care team. That’s a win-win situation for patients.
The profession is changing and the opportunities are growing. There’s more depth and breadth to what pharmacists are expected and asked to do. In a nutshell, pharmacy assures a bright and prosperous future.
Dr. Elango is Principal, JSS, Ooty.