What Does an Ambulatory Care Pharmacist Do?

In a clinical setting, an ambulatory care pharmacist serves as a first point of contact for medical care, providing education, medication, and drug therapy to patients. They are highly educated individuals who have been trained to manage medication and drug therapies. An advanced college degree, government licensing, and completion of a residency program are all required. Other responsibilities include consulting with physicians and advising patients on various drug therapies, in addition to the traditional dispensing of medications. Pharmacists may be required to speak a second language in some areas.

A pharmacist who works in ambulatory care usually has a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and, in most cases, a doctorate in pharmacy (Pharm.D.). Some are board certified, and all are licensed state or regional authorities to practice. Rural, urban, low-income, for-profit, and non-profit clinics are all places where ambulatory care pharmacists receive residency training. Residents are typically expected to attend at least one national pharmacy conference during this time in order to gain more experience in the field and establish networking contacts. To work as an ambulatory care pharmacist, you must complete an ambulatory care pharmacy practice residency or have equivalent direct patient care delivery experience in a clinical setting.

Unlike traditional pharmacists, who focused solely on medication, ambulatory care pharmacists are usually concerned with all aspects of medication use, from the initial prescription to monitoring effectiveness. Extended hospital stays and doctor visits are being phased out in favor of a first-contact clinical model, in which physicians and pharmacists collaborate to help patients. An ambulatory care pharmacist, for example, is trained to recognize and resolve any drug-related issue, as well as to assist the physician in improving care for ambulatory patients with chronic diseases before they see a doctor or go to the emergency room. They frequently instruct patients on how to use an inhaler or a glucose meter properly. Patients may be counseled ambulatory care pharmacists working with clinic physicians after reviewing their previous drug therapy and advising a different drug therapy.

Ambulatory care pharmacists may work alone or as part of a team in a clinic where English is not the primary language. An ambulatory care pharmacist, for example, may work in a community with a large number of migrant workers or in a community with residents who speak a language other than English. Some may work in rural clinics that serve migrant workers from other countries who do not speak English. Several pharmacy schools in Florida require pharmacists to be fluent in Spanish. As ambulatory care pharmacists interact with and communicate a great deal of information to patients, language must not be a barrier.