Pharmacy vs. Pharmacology

PHARMACY

Pharmacy is a licensed health profession in which pharmacists provide information regarding medication to patients and health care professionals. Pharmacists are “medication experts”, concerned with disease state management and safe guarding the public’s health in matters relating to medication distribution and use. To practice pharmacy in the U.S., all new graduates must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree and pass a state license examination.

While responsibilities vary among the different areas of pharmacy practice, the bottom line is that pharmacists help patients get well. Pharmacists practice in nearly all areas and specialties in healthcare – sometimes behind the scenes and not obvious to the public eye, but as the medication expert on the healthcare team, pharmacists are necessary in all facets of healthcare. Pharmacist responsibilities include a range of care for patients, from dispensing medications to monitoring patient health and progress to optimize their response to medication therapies. Pharmacists also educate patients on the use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, as well as provide population based care in institutional settings. Pharmacists educate and advise physicians, nurses, and other health professionals on medication therapy decisions. Pharmacists also provide expertise about the composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties and their manufacture and use. They ensure drug purity and strength and make sure that drugs do not interact in a harmful way. Pharmacists are medication experts ultimately concerned about their patients’ health and wellness.

Professional Commitment: The principal goal of pharmaceutical care is to achieve positive outcomes from the use of medication that improves patients’ quality of life with minimum risk. Pharmacists are professionals, uniquely prepared and available, committed to public service and to the achievement of the followings goals. Pharmacists strive to:

  • Cure disease;
  • Eliminate or reduce symptoms;
  • Arrest or slow a disease process;
  • Prevent disease;
  • Diagnose disease; and
  • Alter physiological processes for desirable result in the patient’s health

PHARMACOLOGY

Pharmacology programs differ from pharmacy degree programs. A degree in pharmacology does not prepare graduates to practice pharmacy in the U.S., whereas, a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree does. Pharmacology programs are offered both in U.S. colleges and schools of pharmacy, as well as other institutions. AACP does not track the availability of pharmacology programs. For information about research careers in pharmacology, visit the web site for the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Pharmacology is defined as the study of the interaction of drugs with living systems. Pharmacology is an essential component in the study of pharmacy and is included as one of the six major areas of instruction in the pharmacy degree curriculum. Student pharmacists study pharmacology to learn the effects of various doses of medicinal substances, as well as the different ways in which medicine can be introduced into the body. The effects of poisons and the means to overcome them are studied in toxicology. Generally, animal tests are required to learn the strength of drugs. Physicians know a great deal about pharmacology and toxicology; yet, as the expert about medications, the pharmacist must maintain this knowledge to an even greater extent. This subject has a fascinating history and continues to be relevant in modern times. It deals with a number of questions. For example:

  • What is the molecular site of action,
  • What are the changes caused by a drug in the normal function of tissues and organs,
  • What is the relationship between the dose of a drug and its effect,
  • How do drugs produce their effects, and
  • What happens to drugs once they enter the body?

Since a drug is traditionally defined as a chemical that interacts with living systems, this subject has a very broad relevance from its obvious importance in the diagnosis and treatment of disease to the impact of abuse substances or environmental chemicals on societies.

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