What Is the Difference Between a Pharmacist and a Chemist?

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A pharmacist is trained in the science of pharmacy to prepare and dispense medicinal drugs, whereas a chemist is trained in the science of chemistry to research and experiment with chemical substances. The terms are sometimes confused in British English, which uses "a shop where you can buy medicines" as a secondary definition of "chemist."

The job duties of a pharmacist working in a retail pharmacy or a hospital include advising patients about medicines, such as how often to take them and side effects they may cause. A pharmacist also makes sure drugs are stored securely and dispensed according to the law. Pharmacists working for a pharmaceutical manufacturer supervise the production of medicines and help assess their effectiveness.

Many chemists work for private companies to develop or improve a product, such as a water-resistant fabric, fast-growing soybeans or even pharmaceutical drugs. Other chemists are researchers interested in theories and models. They usually work for universities and other research organizations. Types of chemists include forensic chemists, who work with law enforcement to analyze evidence; environmental chemists, who often work for government agencies to analyze chemicals in the environment; and nuclear chemists, who study the effects of radiation and other properties of nuclear matter.