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How to Make the Leap from Retail Pharmacist to Hospital Pharmacist

  • February 10, 2022
  • RPh on the Go

Many pharmacists interested in moving from a retail pharmacy to a clinical role find that it’s often not an easy transition to make. Making the leap can be overwhelming and maybe even a little scary, but if this is something you’re interested in doing, don’t let that stop you. There are ways to make the transition successful.

Establish Your Goals

When changing career paths, having a plan is essential. Establish what goals you hope to reach when switching from a retail pharmacy to a hospital pharmacy. How far are you willing to travel? Are you willing to relocate if the right opportunity comes along? What are your payment requirements?

Once you have a better idea of what you hope to achieve, finding open positions that fit your needs will be easier.

Update Your Resume

To transition from a retail-based pharmacy to a hospital-focused pharmacy, you must make sure your resume is updated. While many of the skills you need will overlap, hospital pharmacies have some requirements that retail pharmacies do not.

Hospitals usually expect their pharmacists to have significant clinical experience. Although working in a retail pharmacy is hectic and requires the same core knowledge as a clinical setting, you will need to beef up your resume a bit to demonstrate that you have enough clinical experience for a hospital pharmacy.

There are several ways to go about doing this. Reach out to long-term care facilities or doctors you have a good relationship with and ask if they have opportunities to expand your clinical practice, like ordering certain labs, reviewing patient charts, or consulting on optimizing drug therapy for patients.

Another option is to get involved in health education and management in the community. Whether it’s teaching classes about diabetes management or running health screenings to check cholesterol and glucose levels, any experience where you work directly with patients will look good on your resume.

If your retail pharmacy offers medication therapy management, expand your participation in the program. Set dates and times to meet with patients to review their medications and ensure they understand why they’re taking their medications and how to take them effectively.

Setting up and running vaccine clinics is also a great way to focus more on clinical care and expanding pharmacy services if you work in the retail sector.

By meeting tasks like this head-on, you demonstrate that you’re willing to go the extra mile and that you’re capable of taking on a role focused on ambulatory care and working with patients in a new capacity.

Learn New Skills

In addition to expanding your clinical experience, you should also show that you are willing to learn skills relevant to working in a hospital pharmacy. Not only will this help you when you’re looking for a new position, but it will also make the transition easier when you start your new job.

Pharmacists in both retail and hospital pharmacies have a lot of overlapping skills. They must all have a keen attention to detail, be able to multitask, and have the necessary pharmaceutical knowledge to do the job thoroughly and safely.

When it comes to skills, though, many hospitals require a residency program for their pharmacists, which is a big thing to consider if you’re making the leap from a retail pharmacy. Because of this requirement, you are likely to take a pay cut for a year or two. That said, some hospitals give you a stipend during residency, while others do not have this requirement.

Be Open-Minded

If you’re considering changing the path of your pharmacy career, it’s important to go into it with an open mind. Learning new skills and committing to a residency may seem overwhelming, but at the very least, they help you get your foot in the door and help you gain relevant experience in your field.


Transitioning from a retail to a hospital pharmacy can seem intimidating, and it’s easy to get dissuaded, but there are ways to be prepared and make the transition a success.

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If you enjoyed this article, check out our next blog, Opportunities in 2022 for Pharmacists.

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