Can a pharmacist serve as a doctor


"Ask your doctor or pharmacist". This often-voiced note shows what the most important task of pharmacists today is: using their specialist knowledge as drug specialists to give individual advice to customers. While the focus is on social contact with customers when working in the pharmacy, work in the laboratory tends to take a back seat.

Essential advice as a pharmacist

80% of all pharmacists work in a public pharmacy. A central task in a public pharmacy is the distribution and sale of prescription drugs to customers who can show a doctor's prescription. In addition, the pharmacist advises his patients on the interactions and tolerability of the medication as well as on proper use and storage. He also advises patients on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

In addition, many other products are sold in a pharmacy that are related to the topic of health in the broadest sense. These include, for example, over-the-counter medicines such as cough syrup or headache tablets, but also aids such as inhalation devices or clinical thermometers, cosmetics, care products, wellness products and diet aids. The pharmacist also advises and informs customers about these products.

Service to the patient

Many pharmacies also offer services such as blood pressure measurement, long-distance travel vaccination advice, nutritional advice or help in finding a doctor or a self-help group. Originally, a pharmacist primarily manufactured and sold drugs himself. Today this rarely happens in public pharmacies. Occasionally, ointments or creams or individual medications are also produced, for example for patients with intolerance to certain ingredients of the industrially manufactured medication.

Manufacture of medicines

In any case, drugs are only produced in-house in small quantities. All substances that are used for this must also be checked for their identity beforehand. Microscopic examinations, chemical analyzes or chromatography, for example, are used for this.

Finished drugs are also examined. If errors or impurities are noticed, this is forwarded to the manufacturer so that a check can be initiated. Pharmacists thus make an important contribution to drug safety.

Pharmacists' working hours

In addition, night and weekend shifts must be performed at regular intervals so that a pharmacy can always be reached in emergencies. For the emergency services, the pharmacies in the area alternate, which means that pharmacists in rural areas have to “go through” a night more often than their colleagues in cities with many pharmacies. Another pharmacy is responsible for this on-call service either daily or weekly.

Hospital pharmacy

In addition to the public pharmacy, there is also the option of working in a hospital pharmacy. Working there differs in some respects from working in a public pharmacy. The task of the pharmacist here is to ensure that patients are supplied with medication. This includes purchasing, checking, storing and handing over the medication. The pharmacist must therefore keep an eye on how much is being used in order to ensure that there is always enough medication in stock in the hospital.

"Customers" here are primarily doctors and nursing staff at the hospital, whom the pharmacist advises on the use, mode of action and risks of the medication. The manufacture of medicines is more important in the hospital pharmacy than in a public pharmacy. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that larger quantities are required here, which make in-house production worthwhile, and on the other hand, because more individual recipes are prescribed here.

More and more hospitals are starting to involve pharmacists in therapy “at the bedside of the patient” in order to save costs by optimally coordinating the drugs and to serve the well-being of the patient. As a member of the hospital's drug commission, the pharmacist is also involved in deciding which drugs are used in the hospital. In contrast to public pharmacies, in which working hours are usually based on shop opening hours, shift work is often carried out in hospital pharmacies.

Way to the pharmacist

In order to be allowed to call yourself a pharmacist, you have to meet a number of criteria that are laid down in the licensing regulations. First, a 4-year pharmacy course is completed, which is supplemented by practical phases: An 8-week clinical traineeship, which is comparable to an internship, and a year of practical training following the actual course. For this purpose, the clinical traineeship has to be completed at least four weeks in a public pharmacy.

In order to be able to apply for the license to practice medicine, i.e. the professional qualification, the pharmaceutical examination must also be passed, which is taken in three sections following the basic course, the main course and the practical year.

Responsibility for the patient

The purpose of this strict regulation is clear: pharmacists have a great responsibility towards their customers. For example, undetected drug interactions can have dangerous effects. In addition, the pharmacist is the last person standing between the patient and the drug.

Do not always know z. B. Specialists, which other drugs the patient has been prescribed by other doctors or which over-the-counter drugs the patient is taking. It is therefore the job of the pharmacist to clarify whether there are any risk factors that speak against taking the prescribed medication. In this case, the pharmacist will contact the doctor in charge. The multi-year apprenticeship as a pharmacist is rewarded by an activity that is highly regarded.

Confidante pharmacist

The profession of pharmacist is one of the professions that Germans trust the most: In a representative study by the GfK Verein from 2018, they came in seventh behind firefighters, paramedics, nurses, doctors, train drivers and pilots. 87% of the Germans surveyed said pharmacists had “very high” or “fairly high” trust.

The prospects for permanent employment in a public pharmacy are good. In addition, working as a pharmacist is a good way of balancing work and family. There is at least one pharmacy in almost every town. This allows you to choose your place of residence relatively freely, regardless of where suitable companies are located or long journeys are accepted. In addition, regular working hours allow good planning of everyday life. In larger pharmacies it is also often possible to work part-time.

As a licensed pharmacist, you can set up your own pharmacy if you have the necessary capital. Numerous provisions must be observed, for example on operating rooms and labor law. The pharmacist must also know and keep an eye on the constantly changing laws and regulations in order to be able to implement them. Accounting tasks are usually done after the store closes.

In addition to specialist knowledge, important skills are very good communication skills and empathy towards customers. Self-employed pharmacists also need commercial knowledge in order to run the pharmacy economically as well as the ability to manage personnel and possibly train or train employees. Pharmacists who want to work in a hospital pharmacy should be able to work shifts.

A doctorate is not necessary for a job in a public pharmacy, but it can still be useful in other areas. Opportunities for a career change include, for example, joining the armed forces as a medical officer, switching to the pharmaceutical industry or to a university.

How much does a pharmacist earn?

The remuneration of a pharmacist is usually determined by a collective agreement. These collective agreements are made between the employers' association of German pharmacies (ADA) or the collective bargaining association of pharmacy managers North Rhine (TGL-Nordrhein) and the pharmacy union ADEXA.

Against this background, ADEXA and ADA negotiated a new collective wage agreement in August. Since September 1, 2018, the remuneration of all pharmacy employees has increased. The negotiated plus of 3% applies to all call and age groups. The trainees also now receive more money. With a term of 16 months, the new contract is therefore valid until the end of 2019.

The negotiated remuneration applies to all federal states with the exception of Saxony and the North Rhine region. This is due to the fact that there are no ADEXA tariffs in Saxony because the Saxon Pharmacists' Association is not a member of the ADA. With regard to North Rhine, there are separate collective agreements between TGL-North Rhine and ADEXA.

Apart from that, with the exception of the additional remuneration for night shifts between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., all wage columns have been adjusted according to the 3% increase. This also includes the adjustment for the additional payments for Sundays and public holidays as well as the emergency service allowance from 6:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The table below shows the results of the tariff negotiations visually.

 Gross monthly salaryEmergency service allowance (6:30 pm-10:00pm)Emergency service allowance (22: 00-8: 00 a.m.)Weekend allowance
1 year3.463 €70 €85 €210 €
2nd-5th year3.573 €72 €85 €217 €
6-10 year3.839 €78 €85 €233 €
from 11th year4.199 €85 €85 €255 €

Source:, This is how much employed pharmacists earn from September 1st

Success factors for pharmacists

  • Successfully completed pharmacy studies
  • License to practice
  • Communication skills, empathy
  • Be able to conduct counseling interviews
  • Service orientation
  • Commercial knowledge (especially in the case of self-employment)
  • Readiness for emergency service (public pharmacy) or shift work (hospital pharmacy)
  • leadership qualities
  • Knowledge of relevant legal provisions