Key points about pharmacists

  • A pharmacist is someone who is an expert in medicines.
  • A pharmacist helps to prepare and dispense medicines prescribed by your healthcare team.
Older couple discuss medicine with pharmacist over the counter
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A pharmacist helps to prepare and dispense medicines prescribed by your healthcare team. Some pharmacists can prescribe your medicines, but they must have special training in prescribing and are called a pharmacist prescriber. 

A pharmacist can work in a healthcare facility or in the community. Examples of where a pharmacist can work include:

  • hospitals
  • private clinics
  • community pharmacies
  • pharmaceutical companies. 
Pharmacist chooses medicines off shelf

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Video: Winter Preparedness Series 2023 - Pharmacy

Be prepared for winter, learn about how a pharmacist can support you by watching this video. It may take a few moments to load.

(Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora & Te Aka Whai Ora, NZ, 2023)

A pharmacist can help with the following:

  • Preparing, mixing and dispensing medicines prescribed by your doctor, midwife, nurse or other prescribing health professional.
  • Providing information about prescription and non-prescription medicines, including what they are for, how much you need to take them, side effects and when you need to take them. 
  • Providing advice on health issues, lifestyle choices or treatments for minor health conditions. 
  • Advising your doctor on the selection, dosage or interactions of medicines for a certain medical condition. 
  • Carrying out clinical drug trials. 

Your doctor will let you know whether you need any prescription medicines for your medical condition. 

Community pharmacies

A pharmacist is always available in one of the community pharmacies. If you need prescription medicines, you will need to get them from a pharmacy with a prescription form. You can also speak to a pharmacist if you have any questions without being referred by your doctor. Find a pharmacist in your local area here

Apart from dispensing medicines, community pharmacies offer a range of services to keep you and your family well. Some pharmacies provide more services than others. The following are a few examples. If you are unsure whether your pharmacy provides these services, give them a call.

Examples of services offered by some pharmacies 
  • Medicines packaging such as blister packs
  • Flu / COVID vaccination
  • Emergency contraceptive pill
  • Oral contraceptive pill
  • Smoking cessation
  • Treatment for urinary tract infection
  • Blood glucose checks
  • Blood pressure checks
  • Anticoagulation checks if you are taking warfarin
  • Medical equipment hire
  • Safe disposal of expired medicines 

Your pharmacist can also show you how to use devices such as asthma inhalers, diabetes blood test kits, blood pressure machines and air humidifiers.

A pharmacist has to do 4 years of training in pharmacy and be registered with the Pharmacy Council of NZ(external link) to work in New Zealand. Find out about different training options to become a pharmacist on the Careers NZ website(external link)

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Credits: Healthify Editorial Team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

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