Community pharmacy

Community pharmacists are highly trained, skilled and knowledgeable health professionals. 

The current New Zealand qualification to become a pharmacist is a four year university Bachelor of Pharmacy degree followed by a one year internship. Pharmacists must also continue their professional learning throughout their career in order to maintain an Annual Practicing Certificate.

Community pharmacies are spread throughout the country, with close to 1,000 in New Zealand. They offer a range of services and products.

Services available from your community pharmacy

The services available may differ from pharmacy to pharmacy. Community pharmacies can provide:

  • Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP)
  • Health checks, such as blood pressure checks
  • Medicine compliance packaging
  • Medicine management
  • Passport photos
  • Smoking cessation
  • Treatment for erectile dysfunction
  • Treatment for Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
  • Vaccinations, including the flu shot
  • Warfarin monitoring
  • Weight management.

Why is my community pharmacist the health professional I see most often?

Your community pharmacist is vital to your community and integral to our health system.

  • Pharmacists are the medicines experts. They ensure your prescription is correct. If it is not, they will contact your doctor to amend it.
  • Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring your medicines are safe for you. They check your medicine, dose and instructions before dispensing your prescription.
  • Pharmacists are extremely knowledgeable. They give information to patients, doctors and other health professionals on medicines, drug therapy and disease management. 
  • Pharmacists are easily accessible. They can answer your questions about your health conditions, advise you on treatment or refer you for further diagnosis.
  • You don’t need an appointment to see a pharmacist.
  • Pharmacists are highly qualified. They spend four years at university studying towards a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, followed by a one year internship.

Why do I have to wait for my prescription?

Your community pharmacist needs to make sure that:

  • it includes all the information they need about you and your medicines.
  • you receive the maximum funding you are entitled to.
  • the medicine, the dose and the instructions are right for you.
  • that the medicine will not interact with anything else you are taking.
  • they check for possible side effects that you should be warned of.
  • they ring your doctor if we have any concerns.
  • they update and maintain your individual medicines record.

As medicines experts, pharmacists make sure you get the best results from your medicines, resolve any problems and reduce the chances of developing side effects. This takes time.

Why do you always ask the same questions?

Your community pharmacist needs to know:

  • who the medicine is for.
  • what your symptoms are and how long you’ve had them.
  • if you’re taking any other medicines.
  • if you have any other existing medical conditions.
  • if you need to be more careful than others with medicines, such as if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.
  • There are many medicines you can purchase at a pharmacy without a prescription. Before you purchase these medicines, you will be asked a few questions to ensure these medicines are safe for you.