About Clinical Pharmacists

What is a clinical pharmacist?

Clinical pharmacists work directly with physicians, other health professionals, and patients to ensure that the medications prescribed for patients contribute to the best possible health outcomes. Clinical pharmacists practice in health care settings where they have frequent and regular interactions with physicians and other health professionals, contributing to better coordination of care.

The clinical pharmacist is educated and trained in direct patient care environments, including medical centers, clinics, and a variety of other health care settings. Clinical pharmacists are frequently granted patient care privileges by collaborating physicians and/or health systems that allow them to perform a full range of medication decision-making functions as part of the patient’s health care team. These privileges are granted on the basis of the clinical pharmacist’s demonstrated knowledge of medication therapy and record of clinical experience. This specialized knowledge and clinical experience is usually gained through residency training and specialist board certification.

What do clinical pharmacists do?

Clinical pharmacists:

  • Assess the status of the patient’s health problems and determine whether the prescribed medications are optimally meeting the patient’s needs and goals of care.
  • Evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of the patient’s medications.
  • Recognize untreated health problems that could be improved or resolved with appropriate medication therapy.
  • Follow the patient’s progress to determine the effects of the patient’s medications on his or her health.
  • Consult with the patient’s physicians and other health care providers in selecting the medication therapy that best meets the patient’s needs and contributes effectively to the overall therapy goals.
  • Advise the patient on how to best take his or her medications.
  • Support the health care team’s efforts to educate the patient on other important steps to improve or maintain health, such as exercise, diet, and preventive steps like immunization.
  • Refer the patient to his or her physician or other health professionals to address specific health, wellness, or social services concerns as they arise.
How do clinical pharmacists care for patients?

Clinical pharmacists:

  • Provide a consistent process of patient care that ensures the appropriateness, effectiveness, and safety of the patient’s medication use.
  • Consult with the patient’s physician(s) and other health care provider(s) to develop and implement a medication plan that can meet the overall goals of patient care established by the health care team.
  • Apply specialized knowledge of the scientific and clinical use of medications, including medication action, dosing, adverse effects, and drug interactions, in performing their patient care activities in collaboration with other members of the health care team.
  • Call on their clinical experience to solve health problems through the rational use of medications.
  • Rely on their professional relationships with patients to tailor their advice to best meet individual patient needs and desires.
How do you find a clinical pharmacist?

Clinical pharmacists practice in many different health care environments: hospitals and their affiliated outpatient clinics, emergency departments, community pharmacies, physicians’ offices, community-based clinics, nursing homes, and managed care organizations.

Beginning in 2014, health care providers will be able to request a clinical pharmacy consult from a member of The Panel of Volunteer Clinical Pharmacists.