Finding a career in the healthcare industry can take you places you’ve never thought of. It’s an occupational choose-your-own-adventure with countless opportunities to innovate.

Journalists work with journals, sports players play sports, and independent pharmacists work in independent pharmacies — or so we think.

Independent pharmacies come in all shapes and sizes depending on how you envision your place in the industry. The pharmacy industry offers ample opportunities to succeed in ways and places beyond the pharmacy counter. 

The best way to succeed in a given field is to find your niche within that line of work. To figure out your niche requires serious and honest self-reflection. Though that may sound daunting and even a little intimidating, it’s bound to spring up surprising truths about yourself that you hadn’t noticed before.

Finding your niche is an enlightening experience, a reminder to stay true to yourself and your goals as a healthcare professional. 

Here is some food for thought as you figure out your niche as an independent pharmacist. 

Retail Pharmacist

If your dream is to help others and properly guide them through their health journey, then being a pharmacist is the job for you. Chances are that you, the reader, are a pharmacist or at least work in a pharmacy, so you’re already off to a great start. 

Whether you just finished your degree plan or a wily veteran of the industry, there are plenty of different pharmacies that want your expertise. Let’s get the big one out of the way: retail.

Most independent pharmacies run the retail model, whether it’s a standalone store or within a fellow independent grocery chain.

It’s perhaps the most practical model of running an independent pharmacy and certainly the most cost-effective.

Owning an independent pharmacy also means owning a small business. As such, owning a retail pharmacy combines both commerce and healthcare in ways that can complement each other.

It’s a tightrope act to balance your checkbook while delivering personalized services to your customer base, but it can definitely be achieved. A distinct advantage of independents is that they put their own unique spin on patient care.

On the other hand, retail can be a little restrictive, especially if you have to answer to your parent grocery chain. Depending on your relationship with management, you can either run a by-the-numbers pharmacy or a slam-dunk healthcare destination.

If retail isn’t quite your cup of tea, there are avenues of the pharmacy realm that you can reside in.

Clinical Pharmacist

Clinical pharmacies work closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals. 

There is less emphasis on meeting a bottom line or quota and more focus on making sure medications address a patient’s needs.

Compounding pharmacies are the epitome of specialty healthcare. Pharmacists here literally create medications based on very specific dosage instructions by the doctor. 

This creates an uber-specific and personalized medication that caters to the patient down to the last grain of powder.

It’s important to note that compounding pharmacy is a very specialized niche in pharmacy work.

Pharmacy students often specialize in this field since the curriculum is a very different and meticulous one. As such, it’s not exactly a one-size fits all job.

Hospital Pharmacist

Working as a hospital staff pharmacist is exactly what it sounds like: you’re a pharmacist at a hospital. There is a great amount of emphasis on patient care since than in other areas.

As such, the workload is a bit more urgent than retail or clinical work. Hospital work is a bit more specialized too, since you’ll handle non-traditional medications, namely an IV.

But what if you tire of the pharmacy lifestyle? What does the world beyond the counter look like for someone with a pharmacy degree? The answer may surprise and even delight you.

Medical Writer

Though the name implies a narrow window of variety, a degree in pharmacy offers more job opportunities than the typical duties of a white coat. As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of ways to make your mark on the medical world. 

For the more literary-inclined PharmDs, becoming a medical writer might be the way to go. As the name suggests, medical writers create and compose documents ranging from medication guides to research papers to other informative pieces.

You’re ahead of the curve since your pharmacy school education plunged you into the world of medicine, so writing about them might be easier than you think.


Pharmacists dispense medications. Pharmacologists, on the other hand, are the ones who create those medications. They are quite literally the industry’s main supplier.

Pharmacology requires extensive research and experimentation of how a new medication interacts with the human body and how it fares with other drugs.

However, when everything adds up and the stars align, there’s hardly a more fulfilling feeling.

Pharmacology is a complete change of pace compared to the hustle and bustle of pharmacy work but no less important.


The role of a teacher is vital in just about every aspect in our culture. It’s often a thankless and notoriously underpaying job, so what’s the appeal? 

In the case of pharmacy, teaching offers you the chance to hand down what you learned from your experience behind the counter to aspiring pharmacists. Academia is a considerably different path from traditional pharmacy work but is just as vital. 

Teaching might be an alternative for pharmacists who enjoy talking to patients but could do without the hectic tempo of traditional pharmacy work.

Instead of helping patients, you’re helping students learn, understand, and ultimately develop a passion for the industry. 

Becoming a pharmacy professor is perhaps the most unique and fulfilling way to put your stamp on the industry, and it’s the ultimate way of giving back to the next generation. 


As with many things in the pharmacy industry, there is no one right path to success.

As long as you stay true to your interests and your skills as a healthcare professional, you can’t lose. 

We’ve barely scratched the surface of what you can do with a pharmacy degree, so keep your eyes and ears open to the wealth of opportunities that can come your way. The healthcare industry won’t know what hit them.

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