Working in a Long-Term Care Pharmacy

Pharmacists working in compounding pharmacy
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There are many different types of pharmacies: an independent pharmacy, a chain, a hospital, a long-term care facility, or a compounding pharmacy. All serve their patrons differently, while still supplying patients with high-quality medication and medication therapy management services.

What It's Like to Work in a Long-Term Care Pharmacy

Steve Dove has worked as a pharmacist in a long-term care pharmacy, for Rexall Long-Term Care for three years and long-term care in general for eight years.

His company fulfills the pharmacy needs for around 25 long-term care facilities, which range from four up to 300 beds, all in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, B.C. This means a total of around 1,200 patients and more than 1,000 prescriptions per week. Dove works alongside seven other pharmacists. Five of the other seven are either clinical pharmacists or prescription pharmacists:

  • Three people check prescriptions after they’ve been processed—one person checks new orders, and two people manage refills.
  • Two people input prescriptions into the computer
  • Two are what Dove describes as “spares,” who cover for anyone who’s not there and work where they’re needed.

How It Differs From a Traditional Pharmacy

Working in a long-term care pharmacy setting is different from a traditional pharmacy because there are no patients coming in and out.

“The advantage to it is you can control your workflow much better because you don’t have any customers coming in,” explains Dove. “Your main contact is doctors and nurses, and we also know everything the patient is taking.”

In a traditional pharmacy setting, it can be very difficult to know if patients are taking other prescribed drugs or over the counter medications which can interact with the medication prescriptions that you are filling. There can be some negatives to working in a long-term care setting, such as:

  • There’s much less human interaction, which some people can miss.
  • You know very little about your patients because you never see them.
  • It can seem like a bit of a factory.
  • Long-term care pharmacy is more clinical than retail.

Typical Long Term Care Pharmacist Job Description

The role of a long-term care pharmacist is broad and varied. Pharmacists may be expected to:

  • Prepare medications by reviewing and interpreting physician orders
  • Detect therapeutic incompatibilities and possible interactions between drugs
  • Dispense medications by compounding, packaging, and labeling pharmaceuticals
  • Control medications by monitoring drug therapies and advising interventions
  • Complete pharmacy operational requirements, such as:
    • Organizing and directing technicians' workflow
    • Verifying technician preparation and labeling of pharmaceuticals
    • Verifying order entries, charges, and inspections
  • Answer questions and requests made by health care professionals
  • Occasional counseling of patients on drug therapies
  • Comply with state and federal drug laws as regulated by the state board of pharmacy, The Drug Enforcement Administration, and The Food and Drug Administration including but not limited to:
    • Monitor nursing unit inspections
    • Maintain records for controlled substances
    • Remove outdated and damaged drugs from the pharmacy inventory
    • Supervise the work results of support personnel
    • Maintain current registration
    • Study existing and new legislation, anticipating legislation
    • Advise management on needed actions.
  • Perform various administrative duties as required