Community pharmacy

Community pharmacy, also known as retail pharmacy, is the most common type of pharmacy that provides public access to their medications and health advice. Traditionally known as a chemist, it is the health facility that is responsible for providing pharmaceutical services to a specific community group or region.

Most community pharmacies have a commercial store with a combination of prescription-only drugs and those that can be purchased over-the-counter.

Community pharmacists are considered the most accessible healthcare professionals to the public, as they are available to provide personalized health and medical advice on a walk-in, walk-in basis. 89% of the UK population can access a community pharmacy within 20 minutes walk.

Community pharmacy

Types of community pharmacies

There are several types of community pharmacies. They range from small individual pharmacies in isolated rural towns to large chains in major malls and supermarkets.

The types of community pharmacies also depend on the regulations in force in this area. For example, in the United States, large chain or supermarket pharmacies are far more common than independent pharmacies. This contrasts with many countries in Europe which limit pharmacies to being owned by one registered pharmacist, who is limited to owning fewer than a certain number of pharmacies, making large chains impossible.

Role of the community pharmacist

Traditionally, the role of the community pharmacist is to provide medication to patients based on a prescription from their doctor. However, the pharmacist’s role has evolved significantly and is now deeply involved in a number of other health initiatives. The many duties of a community pharmacist can include:

  • Prescription processing: checking the doctor’s prescription and preparing medication for the patient.
  • Checking for drug interactions: ensuring that drugs and doses are appropriate for the patient taking into account health factors and other drugs.
  • Dispensing of medications: Properly label the medication with instructions for the patient on how to take the medication.
  • Medication Disposal: Take unnecessary medications from patients and dispose of them safely.
  • Giving Advice: Helping patients understand their health and medications and giving appropriate advice.
  • Promoting a healthy lifestyle: helping patients make healthier choices, such as eating more nutritious foods, exercising more often, or quitting smoking.

As the community pharmacist is often the healthcare professional that patients consult most often, he plays an important role in the continuity of care and patient health check-ups. Additionally, they are well placed to recommend routine screenings (eg for bowel cancer) at appropriate life stages.

Training and education

The main pillar of education and training for all pharmacists, including those working in a community pharmacy, is the safe and effective use of medications to improve patient outcomes. Training provided in undergraduate programs, postgraduate programs and continuing professional development is guided by this principle.

There are various topics that a community pharmacist should know, including the chemistry and pharmacology of drugs and formations, as well as the physiology and pathology of the body.

Depending on the country, the registration requirements for a community pharmacist may vary. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in pharmacy is required, in addition to an internship and board exam to enroll. To maintain registration, ongoing professional development is required to ensure the practice is kept current.


Further reading

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