A Day in the Life of an Ambulatory Care Pharmacist

BY: Cassie Boland, PharmD, BCACP, CDCES

I've been asked many times throughout my career as an Ambulatory Care Pharmacist - what exactly does an ambulatory care pharmacist do? Great question! Let's explore what a typical workday might look like.

Daily Tasks

Ambulatory care pharmacists' daily tasks include:

  • Direct Pateient Care & Medication Management
  • Care Coordination
  • Relationship Development
  • Patient advocacy
  • Health & Wellness Promotion
  • Patient Triage & Referrals
  • Self-Management Education for Ambulatory Patients.

Ambulatory care pharmacists usually work in outpatient settings, but clinics can also be community-based or hospital-based. In short, we mainly practice chronic disease medication management and patient/community education while cultivating relationships as part of the healthcare team.

On a typical day, an ambulatory care pharmacist might see patients every 15-60 minutes to provide medication management, education, or other services. Common chronic issues that are managed may include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Heart Failure
  • Obesity
  • Anticoagulation
  •  Osteoporosis
  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Psychiatric Diseases
  • HIV
  • Contraception.


Interdisciplinary Collaboration

"Ambulatory care pharmacists consult with a variety of healthcare providers to manage a patient's care."

In some states, pharmacists can enter collaborative practice agreements with physicians to allow an ambulatory care pharmacist to prescribe, adjust, and monitor medications.

Typical Ambulatory Care Visit

A visit often entails guiding the patient through medication choices, initiating/adjusting/discontinuing therapies, ordering & evaluating labs, performing appropriate physical assessments/screenings, risk assessment, ensuring affordable access to medications, patient & caregiver education, and referring as needed. Necessary documentation and billing also fall under the umbrella of daily responsibilities.

Pursuing a Career in Ambulatory Care Pharmacy

Curious about how to pursue a career in this field? Most positions require a minimum of a PGY1 pharmacy practice residency, with a PGY2 pharmacy practice residency related to ambulatory care likely encouraged. Additional credentials for professional development and continued education may also be obtained to elevate one's practice abilities. In the case of ambulatory care pharmacists, the Board-Certified Ambulatory Care Pharmacist (BCACP) credential is a desirable qualification and often required for various positions.


Supplementary Certifications

Additional Board of Pharmacy Specialty (BPS) certifications may also be applicable depending on your area of practice and include but are not limited to:

  • Board Certified Cardiology Pharmacist (BCCP)
  • Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (BCGP)
  • Board Certified Infectious Disease Pharmacist (BCIDP)
  • Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP).

"Always aim at perfection for only then will you achieve excellence." - J. R. D. Tata

These certifications include competency on comprehensive exams with education requirements that demonstrate your clinical abilities and commitment to continuing education. Depending on the major disease states managed within your practice, there may be other specific credentials to consider such as obtaining a Certified Diabetes Care Education Specialist (CDCES) credential or a Board-Certified Advanced Diabetes Management (BC-ADM) credential if you manage diabetes within your clinic.

Explore Your Options

If you are a pharmacist considering a career change or even a pharmacy student or resident interested in ambulatory care pharmacy, explore your options by spending time researching pharmacy practice residency programs & clinics in your area. You can also investigate collaborative practice agreements and specialty certifications to familiarize yourself with what employers might require or desire for new hires. The ideal option is, of course, communicating directly with an ambulatory care pharmacist. We are often completely willing to share expertise and experiences in the field!

High-Yield Bio

Cassie Boland, PharmD, BCACP, CDCES is an Associate Editor and Director of Curriculum & Assessment for High-Yield Med Reviews. 





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