Skip to content

Difference Between Hospital and Community Pharmacists


If you have talked to a pharmacist directly, it is most likely to be a hospital or community pharmacist. These fields of pharmacy enable pharmacists to interact with patients directly and counsel them about the rational use of medicine. While both essentially perform the same function, there are various dissimilarities in their exact job roles.

Read more to know the differences between hospital and community pharmacists.

Comparison Table

CharacteristicsHospital PharmacistCommunity Pharmacist
DefinitionPharmacists working
in hospitals
Pharmacists working
in community pharmacies
Other NameClinical pharmacistRetail pharmacist
Required Experience2-year residencyNo residency required
ResponsibilitiesPatient prescription
filling & IV preparation
Inventory management
& dispensing medications
InteractionDoctors, nurses, & patientsCustomers & pharmacy staff
Duty ShiftsRotatory shifts Fixed shifts
Average Salary$124,464$115,120

Hospital Pharmacist

Hospital pharmacists work in a hospital or a similar medical facility to facilitate doctors and other healthcare workers like nurses, patient-care technicians, respiratory therapists, etc. They dispense medicines and counsel the patients about drug use. They interact with other medical professionals in the hospital or nursing home to ensure the patients receive the best care. Hospital pharmacists may also make rounds with the nurses (PCTs, CNAs, LPNs, etc.) to check on the patient.

Besides dispensing oral dosage forms, hospital pharmacists must also be well-versed in compounding and formulating IV and other medication forms. Furthermore, they make interventions after communicating with the doctor to improve the course of treatment. Hospital pharmacists are also referred to as clinical pharmacists sometimes.


Hospital Pharmacy Setup

When understanding the responsibilities and scope of hospital pharmacy, it is also important to know their working environment. The hospital pharmacy setup differs from a retail pharmacy as the hospital pharmacist deals with the consumer directly instead of the customer.

Hospitals have different pharmacists for in-patient and out-patients, catering to the specific needs of patients. It is common for hospital pharmacists to compound medication like analgesics, antibiotics for bacterial infections per requirement. Large hospitals may also have a satellite pharmacy system to make communication and dispensing convenient throughout different departments.

Hospital Pharmacist Responsibilities

The role of hospital pharmacists may be considered one of the most critical and tough ones as they perform multiple functions. From managing the inventory to filling orders for medications and compounding medicines, there is a lot to do. A pharmacist’s scope may also expand over chemotherapy and medical aids for fractures and other health issues for adequate medical care.

A hospital pharmacist’s responsibility is to consider disease or disorder history, current intake of medicine, surgeries in the past, family history, and reported current or past allergies. They review the medication prescribed by the doctor and guide the patients about drug-drug and drug-food interactions.

Community Pharmacist

Community pharmacists are also known as retail pharmacists or front-desk pharmacists. Retail pharmacists dispense medicines in community pharmacies such as independent pharmacies, chain stores, or larger departmental stores. The scope of a community pharmacist is somewhat limited compared to a hospital pharmacist. They fill medication orders as prescribed by the doctors. Community pharmacists do not directly interact with the patients all the time. Instead, the customer may or may not be the consumer.

Community pharmacists do not widely work with formulations either. They maintain the inventory to provide the required medication to the customer at the earliest. They are well-informed about the use of ambulatory aid and medical devices, for e.g., stethoscopes. Sometimes retail pharmacists also compound medicines if the pharmacy provides the service.


Community Pharmacy Setup

The setup of a community pharmacy where a community pharmacist works is quite distinct from a hospital pharmacy. Community pharmacies usually have large shelves with medicines arranged in a specific manner. Some stores organize them alphabetically; others consider arrangement according to generic, while a few also place them per the manufacturing company. Usually, more than one pharmacist attends to the needs of the customers. It differs from a hospital pharmacy as there is no satellite, in-patient, or out-patient dispensing concept.

Community Pharmacist Responsibilities

Community pharmacists dispense pre-formulated medicines to the customers and counsel them about their rational use. They check the previous refills for the medication to ensure the patient is not abusing the drug use. Reviewing the account helps them analyze and eradicate any possible drug interactions. A retail pharmacist may also have to manage the technical and non-technical staff in the pharmacy.

Similarities between Hospital and Community Pharmacists

  • Hospital and community pharmacists dispense medicines.
  • They counsel the patients about the rational use of medicine.
  • Both obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm-D) degree before choosing their respective fields.

Differences between Hospital and Community Pharmacists


Hospital Pharmacist

A hospital pharmacist works in a hospital setup and formulates and dispenses medicines according to the patient’s needs.

Community Pharmacist

A community pharmacist serves in an independent or in-store pharmacy.

Other Name

Hospital Pharmacist

Hospital pharmacists are also known as clinical pharmacists.

Community Pharmacist

Community pharmacists are often referred to as retail pharmacists.

Required Experience

Hospital Pharmacist

Pharmacists require a 2-year residency program after obtaining the Pharm-D degree to work as hospital pharmacists.

Community Pharmacist

A community pharmacist role does not necessarily require residency; you may join a community pharmacy without it. Further requirements depend on your region.


Hospital Pharmacist

Hospital pharmacists compound and dispense medicines to in-patient and out-patient departments. They also prepare IVs and other formulations per need for infections or diseases.

Community Pharmacist

Community pharmacists monitor the inventory, dispense pre-formulated medications and ensure adequate prescription filling.


Hospital Pharmacist

Hospital pharmacists interact with the doctors, nurses, and other staff in the hospital. They also communicate with the patients directly and keep a check on their health.

Community Pharmacist

Community pharmacists do not necessarily interact with the patient as the customer may or may not be the consumer. They manage the technical and non-technical staff in the pharmacy.

Duty Hours

Hospital Pharmacist

Hospital pharmacists usually work around the clock in shifts. Some hospitals have 8-hour shifts, a few require 12-hour turns, while some have longer calls. However, most hospital pharmacists work alternate morning, evening, and night shifts.

Community Pharmacist

As retail pharmacies typically operate during the day, community pharmacists work 8 or 12 hours per need. Some community pharmacies offer 24-7 service and have fixed staff for each shift.


Hospital Pharmacist

Hospital pharmacists earn between $26,758 and $716,922 annually. The median salary for a hospital pharmacist in the US is around $124,464.

Community Pharmacist

Community pharmacists earn between $99,417 and $126,079 every year. However, the average salary for a community pharmacist in the US is approximately $115,120.

The Bottom Line

Hospital and community pharmacists are essential to provide quality healthcare to patients. They dispense medicines adequately with proper counseling. Despite similar functions, there are a few differences between hospital and community pharmacists’ responsibilities. The former takes care of patients at the hospital through timely monitoring, formulating, and dispensing of medicines. On the other hand, community pharmacists dispense medication and devices to customers. Both fields require a Pharm D degree and contribute to patient care in specific ways.


What does a community pharmacist do?

Community pharmacists at community pharmacies dispense medication to customers. The customers may or may not be the consumer. Sometimes, community pharmacists may also have to compound medicines before dispensing.

Can a community pharmacist prescribe antibiotics?

Yes, a community pharmacist can give antibiotics to the patient if needed. They can typically prescribe antibiotics for conditions like nappy rash, UTI, conjunctivitis, oral thrush, and impetigo.

What is the role of a hospital pharmacist in patient care?

Hospital pharmacists monitor the doses and frequency of medicines given to inpatients. They conduct wellness screening, immunizations, and chronic disease management. They ensure the best patient care practices and preventive care services.

Is a hospital pharmacist the same as a clinical pharmacist?

Sometimes, the terms hospital pharmacist and clinical pharmacist may be interchangeably used as they offer their services directly to patients. They deal with patient prescriptions and counsel the patients regarding the use of drugs. You might also find clinical pharmacists in private patient clinics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *