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How Pharmacies Have Evolved Over Time

Apr 25, 2008
Pharmacy is derived from the Greek word for drug and is the link between the health and chemistry sciences. Its job is to ensure the safe and effective use of prescribed medications. The scope of pharmacy practice also includes the more traditional roles of creating and dispensing the aforementioned medications but it also includes the more modern services related to hospital and out-patient care including clinical services, checking medications for quality, safety, efficacy and providing pertinent drug information.

The experts on these various drug therapies, as well as being the primary health professionals who set up medication use, provide patients the best usage information and are called Pharmacists. The term pharmacy is also applied to an establishment used for the purpose of dispensing these drugs. The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science was founded in 1821, and was the first school of its kind in America. The American Pharmaceutical Association (APA) was founded in 1851.

The field of Pharmacy is divided into these three primary disciplines: Pharmaceuticals, Medicinal chemistry (or Pharmacology) and Pharmacy practice. The boundaries between these disciplines and with other sciences, such as biochemistry, are fairly blurred and are often learned and used together.

Sometimes Pharmacology is considered to be a fourth discipline of pharmacy even though pharmacology is essential to the study of pharmacy. Even so, it is not specific to the study of pharmacy. It is considered to be a field of some of the broader sciences.

There are various specialties of pharmacy practice. Specialization in pharmacy practice is typically based on the place of practice or practice roles including community, hospital, drug information, regulatory affairs, industry, and many other specific fields of pharmacy. Other specialization in pharmacy practice recognized by the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties include: infectious diseases, cardiovascular illnesses, pharmacotherapy, and psychiatrics.

The people who are very well trained and very skilled professionals who perform various roles to ensure good outcomes for their patients are known as Pharmacists. Many pharmacists are also owners of the pharmacy in which they practice.

Pharmacists ply their particular practice in a variety of places including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and drug stores. Pharmacists can specialize in any of the various areas of practice that include but isn't limited to: hematology and/or oncology, nutritional support, drug information, pediatrics, and a host of other specialties.
A pharmacy, which was once known as an Apothecary, is the place where most pharmacists practice their profession. Generally it is a community pharmacy which is often owned by the practicing Pharmacist.

Community pharmacies are most usually a retail storefront with the pharmacy in a part of the store where the pharmacist dispenses medications. The dispensary is subject to pharmacy legislation with the usual requirements for storage, compulsory texts, equipment, medications and various other regulatory items specified in legislation. Once upon a time it was the job of the pharmacists to stay within the dispensary concocting and dispensing the medicines. Now there is an increasing trend towards the use of well-trained technicians so the pharmacist can spend more time communicating with patients.

It is also a part of the regulations that pharmacies have a pharmacist on-duty at all times when they are open. In many areas it is also required that the owner of a pharmacy must be a registered pharmacist although this requirement has been revoked in many places. Many places such as supermarkets now include a pharmacy as a department of the store.
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