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Pharmacists in Turkey embark on a fascinating yet intricate career pathway, which intertwines the realms of healthcare, business, and community service. Hatice, a pharmacist with years of immersive experience in the field, pens a thorough examination of the educational journey, career pathways, and societal roles of pharmacists within the rich tapestry of Turkish healthcare and community service.
Whether you are on the cusp of stepping into the world of pharmacy, a professional navigating the industry, or an individual intrigued by the multifaceted realm of pharmaceutical careers, this article unveils the varied aspects and insights into the profession, exploring from the roots of educational.
My name is Hatice and I have been working as a pharmacist in Turkey for the past years. In this article, I will share my personal experience and journey of becoming and working as a pharmacist here.
Pharmacy Education in Turkey
To become a pharmacist in Turkey, students must:
- Take the university entrance exam and get accepted into a pharmacy faculty program. Pharmacy education takes 5 years.
- Complete theoretical lessons along with extensive lab work and internships to gain hands-on experience.
- After graduation, apply to open a pharmacy or work in various settings like hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, nursing homes, etc.
The major pharmacy career paths in Turkey include:
- Community pharmacy: Opening your own pharmacy or working at one. This is the most common route.
- Hospital pharmacy: Dispensing medications and advising doctors in inpatient facilities.
- Industry pharmacy: Working for pharmaceutical or cosmetic companies in R&D, regulation, sales and marketing.
- Long-term care pharmacy: Providing medication management services in nursing homes.
- Academic pharmacy: Teaching and research roles at universities.
- Specialized pharmacy: Becoming an expert in a niche field like pharmacogenomics.
This versatility allows pharmacists to develop diverse and rewarding careers according to their interests. Many pursue specializations or higher degrees to advance professionally.
Career Paths for Pharmacists in Turkey
One of the great things about this profession is the diversity of sectors pharmacists in Turkey can work in.
There are various settings and industries pharmacists can choose to build their career in.
- Community pharmacy in private pharmacies is a common path.
- Hospital settings, managing medications for inpatients and emergencies is another key area.
- Some pharmacists in Turkey work in pharmaceutical or cosmetic companies.
- Others work in nursing homes caring for elderly residents.
- Pharmacists can also specialize and become expert in specific fields like herbal medicine.
- These specialists often work in hospitals, government agencies like the Turkish Medicines Agency.
- Essentially, pharmacists in Turkey work in any setting involving medications!
The main difference in roles comes with specializations like phytotherapy and clinical pharmacy, which require passing specialist exams to practice in these advanced areas.
Working As A Pharmacist
With recent changes in laws, most new pharmacists in Turkey are now employees rather than pharmacy owners. There are a few key ways new graduates look for and find jobs.
- Job ads are posted on online platforms like LinkedIn and Kariyer.net.
- But the best place to look is the pharmacist association job listings, which are updated frequently with open positions.
- The main challenge is that existing pharmacies prefer to hire experienced pharmacists.
I advise all graduates to know their rights and negotiate proper salaries. And I urge more experienced pharmacists to protect and support younger colleagues during their early careers.
Estalishing Your Own Pharmacy in Turkey
For a pharmacist looking to open their own pharmacy, there is a process that must be followed.
- They need to consult with the district health directorate for all the requirements and paperwork involved.
- There are also criteria to meet like minimum space, inventory, having a valid license and responsible manager.
- And the provincial health authority must be informed of the intent to open the new pharmacy.
Financially, there are costs associated with starting a pharmacy too.
- Someone taking over an existing license via official transfer must first pay whatever fee the current owner asks for the license as there are no regulations on the price.
- Opening a brand new pharmacy requires significant capital for expenses like initial stock, equipment, renovations, licenses, and other fees.
Pharmacist Salary In Turkey
Pharmacist salaries in Turkey vary depending on the place of work.
- Pharmacy Pharmacists: The income of pharmacy pharmacists varies depending on the location of the pharmacies, the category of products they sell, and the size of the pharmacy.
- Pharmacists working in pharmacies: The net income of pharmacists working in the pharmacy is 1.5 minimum wage in the first year after graduation. This corresponds to approximately $615 today. The following process varies depending on the agreement between them and their employer. Someone who works as a second pharmacist in pharmacies that are legally required to employ a second pharmacist legally receives a net 3 minimum wage.
- Pharmacists Working in the Company: Employees working in pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies vary depending on location, company, and experience. Therefore it is not possible to say anything clearly.
- Hospital Pharmacists: The salary of a pharmacist working in a hospital pharmacy is calculated based on a basic salary plus the share from the hospital revolving fund and duty income. Therefore, hospital pharmacist salary may vary from hospital to hospital. Today’s average hospital pharmacist salary is approximately $860.
- Counts the controlled use of narcotic, hypnotic, and psychotropic drugs on a weekly basis.
- It checks the stock and expiration dates of the drugs in the pharmacy on a regular basis.
- It ensures that the medicines in the pharmacy are stored properly, taking into account their temperature values.
- Provides counseling to patients or consumers regarding the use of medications, supplements and dermocosmetic products.
- Ensures that expired and spoiled medications are properly disposed of, as well as medication records, are removed.
- It performs stock counts of medicines throughout the pharmacy based on the need.
- In cases where the drugs prescribed by the doctor are not available in the pharmacy and an existing equivalent drug can meet the request, the patient may offer to give this drug to the patient as his legal right.
- In the doctor’s prescription, carefully considers drug interactions and drug interactions with food. It notifies the physician and warns the patient if the interaction occurs.
- The prescriptions are entered into the system in accordance with the law, and the system then informs the Social Security Institution about the prescriptions it has covered every month, and if there is no error, it can collect the fee from the Social Security Institution.
- The pharmacist participates in entering medication information into the patient account, updates the pharmacy system medications in orders, invoices, transfers, and returns, entering records of medication entries and exits into the system regarding medication counting situations, and keeping stock.
Pharmacy Working Hours and Shifts
The standard working hours and shift systems for pharmacies vary across different cities and regions of Turkey based on local pharmacist association rules.
- In Istanbul, pharmacies are typically open from 9am to 7pm. But this may vary from city to city. For example, in Kutahya pharmacies are open from 8am to 6pm.
- Some associations mandate a 1 hour lunch break closure.
- Night, weekend and holiday shifts are covered through a rotation system negotiated by the local association.
- Shift schedules are usually updated twice a year.
- You can find out the most accurate answer abot pharmacy working hours and duty by asking the pharmacy or from the website of the pharmacist chamber of that province or district. Here is the link of pharmacies in duty in Istanbul.
In terms of division of responsibilities between pharmacists working together, inventory management and acquisition of medicines not carried by the other pharmacist can be split based on individual strengths. But overall, the workload and accountability is quite high for each individual pharmacist.
Career Progression and Advancement
There are different potential paths for progression and advancement within pharmacy careers.
For pharmacists working in community pharmacies, development comes through acquiring expertise in specialized areas and obtaining certifications through continued training and education.
In the pharmaceutical industry, building experience and interest in different domains allows movement across departments and even working abroad in multinational companies.
For hospital pharmacists, the pinnacle role is often becoming chief pharmacist which involves overseeing all pharmacy operations and staff for that institution.
With the recent introduction of pharmacist specialization in Turkey, there are also growing opportunities in academia and positions within government bodies like the Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency.
Opening a Pharmacy in Turkey
Pharmacists seeking to open their own pharmacy in Turkey must complete various licensing and regulatory requirements:
- Inform and consult the district health directorate and send the necessary documents.
- Ensure premises meet physical and equipment standards for a pharmacy.
- Obtain permits, certificates and registrations.
- Get a certificate of responsibility to be the pharmacy’s manager.
Costs of opening a pharmacy are steep, ranging from:
- Purchasing or renting suitable commercial space
- Fit-out and furnishing expenses
- Initial inventory of medicines and supplies
- Transfer fee if acquiring an existing pharmacy
- Taxes and registration fees
Therefore, financial readiness is vital for pharmacists aspiring to open pharmacies. Government incentives can help expand pharmacy access in underserved areas.
Pharmacy Operations and Professional Collaboration
Pharmacy operating hours and on-call schedules differ across cities based on decisions by the Turkish Pharmacists Association’s regional branches.
During weekends and holidays, pharmacies take turns remaining open for emergency needs. Supporting fellow pharmacists through collaboration and referrals is encouraged, though awareness of professional rights requires improvement. Issues like fair wages and worker safety need more attention.
Societal Perceptions Of Pharmacists in Turkey
Pharmacists enjoy enormous public trust in Turkey as educated, ethical professionals. People often consult them before doctors. Pharmacists contribute greatly to public health through vaccination drives, health camps and more.
However, some pharmacies have faced security issues and harassment, especially at night. Safety measures need bolstering to protect pharmacy staff and operations. While mostly trusted, pharmacists also need to guard against unethical practices that may tarnish their image.