Health Career Center

Geriatric Pharmacist

The elderly often take multiple medications for aging related diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic pain.

Geriatric pharmacists specialize in prescribing medicine for elderly individuals. They're responsible for labeling and dispensing medications and advising patients about proper usage.

Certain geriatric pharmacists do not dispense medication; rather, they care for elderly patients in hospices, hospitals, and assisted care clinics. Their primary responsibility is to make sure patients are receiving proper medications and prescription drug abuse is not occurring.

Geriatric pharmacists must limit mistakes since more than 100,000 deaths can be attributed to medication errors annually, including dosing errors. Since the elderly typically take more medication than the general population, negative reactions from drug interaction is a concern for geriatric pharmacists. However, geriatric pharmacists are taught how to limit these risks.

Geriatric pharmacists must ask their patients many questions to ensure they're taking proper dosages, there are limited or no side effects, and certain drugs are not being mixed. If changes are necessary, geriatric pharmacists can alter an individual's medication regimen or contact a doctor.

Since store pharmacies are typically busy, many geriatric pharmacists set up appointments with patients to discuss their medication.

Working Conditions
Geriatric pharmacists are typically employed at assisted living facilities, hospitals, medical clinics, or retirement communities. Many also work at store pharmacies. They typically work normal office hours, but many are required to remain on call and work holidays, nights, and weekends.

Geriatric pharmacists usually earn anywhere from $80,000-110,000 annually, but salary is affected by job duties and employer.

Demand for geriatric pharmacists will be high through the near future as the baby boomer population ages. Medicare covers some of the consultation services offered by geriatric pharmacists.

Career Training and Education
Geriatric pharmacists are required to complete a 6 year pharmacy program after earning a bachelor's degree.

To become certified with the Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy (CCGP), geriatric pharmacists are required to possess two or more years of experience, pass a test, become licensed in the state where they practice, and complete periodic continuing education.
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