Pharmacists are allied health professionals who practice in pharmacy, the field of health sciences focusing on safe and effective medication use. The role of the pharmacist has shifted from the classical "lick, stick, and pour" dispensary role (that is, "lick & stick the labels, count & pour the pills"), to being an integrated member of the health care team directly involved in patient care. Pharmacists undergo university-level education to understand biochemical mechanisms of action of drugs, drug uses and therapeutic roles, side effects, potential interactions, and monitoring parameters. This is mated to education in anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. Professional interpretation and communication of this specialized knowledge to patients, physicians, and other health care providers are functions which pharmacists provide, and are central to the provision of safe and effective drug therapy.
In many countries, pharmacists must hold the title of Doctor of Pharmacy in order to exercise their profession.
The most common pharmacist positions are that of a community pharmacist (also referred to as "retail pharmacist" or "dispensing chemist"), or a hospital pharmacist, where they instruct and counsel on the proper use and adverse effects of medically prescribed drugs and medicines. In most countries, the profession is subject to professional regulation. Depending on the legal scope of practice, pharmacists may contribute to prescribing (also referred to as "pharmacist prescriber") and administering certain medications (e.g. immunizations in some jurisdictions). Pharmacists may also practice in a variety of other settings, including industry, research, academia, military, and government.