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What does a Pharmacist do?

A pharmacist dispenses medications, provides health advice and ensures safe use of drugs in community pharmacies, offering essential healthcare support to customers. They specialise in the formulation, manufacturing, controlling, selling and storage of medicines.

Their duties can also involve conducting medical screenings, giving injections or vaccinations, and providing medical advice. A pharmacist is the link between doctors and their patients. A pharmacist is legally required to maintain prescription files and record medications they dispense as well as ensuring the correct dosage is given.


What qualifications do I need?

To practice as a pharmacist, you must have a degree in Pharmacy (BPharm). Once you have completed this degree, you need to gain practical experience for 1-2 years and register with the South African Pharmacy Council. Pharmacists in South Africa typically study for about four years and complete 12 months of community service.

What subjects do I need?

Physical Sciences
Life Sciences
Life Orientation


Where can I study?

Tshwane University of Technology
BPharm - Bachelor of Pharmacy

University of the Western Cape
BPharm - Bachelor of Pharmacy

University of the Witwatersrand
BPharm - Bachelor of Pharmacy

Where can I get more info?

Pharmaceutical Society of South Africa (PSSA) - www.pssa.org.za
Innovative Pharmaceutical Association South Africa (IPASA) - www.ipasa.co.za/
South African Association of Pharmacists in Industry (SAAPI) - www.saapi.org.za 


Interview with a Pharmacist

Kyna Izally | RESPONSIBLE PHARMACIST | Medisphere Pharmacy

Kyna Izally | RESPONSIBLE PHARMACIST | Medisphere Pharmacy


Why did you choose this profession? 
I followed in my father’s footsteps; he is also a pharmacist. I have always been inspired by him. I also wanted to be in an industry where I can both help people and incorporate science. 

What training did you undergo?
I studied a 4-year degree at UWC, which is the only university where you can study pharmacy in the Western Cape. I then did my internship year at Bishop Lavis Clinic. After that, I completed my training with a community service year, where you work in a government facility for a year. It is a 6-year journey to become a fully registered pharmacist.

Describe a typical day on the job
A responsible pharmacist is one that operates as both a pharmacist and the manager of the pharmacy, so I promote health advice to customers, dispense medication that doctors prescribe, help customers receive over-the-counter medication based on their symptoms, give advice to people to encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle. Behind the scenes, there are admin issues I handle to allow the pharmacy to run optimally.

What do you enjoy most about your work? 
Interacting with people and empowering people to understand their body and health better. 

What don’t you like? 
There is a certain scope of practice I have to abide to as a pharmacist, but sometimes you encounter people who need extra help that you simply don’t have the capacity for (like serious injuries).

What hurdles have you had to overcome? 
Breaking stereotypes! Since I am very young to be working at this level, many people assume I am not a pharmacist. Breaking stereotypes allows others to see that professionals come in all shapes and sizes.

What’s been the highlight of your career to date? 
When my internship project won first place in the Western Cape. My project highlighted a disease that was overlooked and somewhat neglected in the public sector, and ultimately allowed this disease to be managed better. 

What are your future goals? 
I would love to further my studies and do a Master’s Degree in Clinical Pharmacy.

Is there a type of personality best suited to this work? 
I think you should be a positive and confident person. Your work entails speaking to patients/customers all day, so you should be someone who loves working with people. 

Advice for newcomers? 
It gets better. Pharmacy can be very intimidating when you start out, but once you get the hang of things, you will see how amazing this profession truly is. There may be many challenges you have to face, but always persevere and you will reap the rewards of your hard work and dedication. 


Interview date: May 2021