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What Is a Military Pharmacy?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

A military pharmacy is a pharmacy which meets the needs of a military health care system, such as TRICARE in the United States military. Military pharmacies dispense medications to members of the military, their dependents, and military retirees. These pharmacies operate much like civilian pharmacies do, with a few key differences. Civilians with pharmacy training, including fully qualified pharmacists, can be offered signing bonuses, military discounts, and other benefits for joining the military to work in a pharmacy, and people without training who are interested in pharmacy work can receive training after enlistment, if they are qualified and the military needs pharmacy personnel.

Like a civilian pharmacy, a military pharmacy keeps an array of needed medications in stock, sometimes referring to these as “formulary medications.” Medications which are listed in the formulary established by the military must be available at military pharmacies, with many pharmacies using generic drugs whenever possible to save costs. Drugs outside the formulary may or may not be available, depending on the pharmacy in question, and sometimes special arrangements can be made to bring a specific medication to a particular pharmacy.

As a general rule, a military pharmacy operates within the framework of the military health care system. This means that it only accepts prescriptions from military doctors or civilian doctors who have a recognized relationship with the military's health care system. It may be located in a military hospital, on a base, or on board a ship, and personnel are trained both in general pharmacy protocol and in the protocol specific to military pharmacies.

At a military pharmacy, as with civilian pharmacies, prescriptions are filled as promptly as possible, with steps in place to ensure that prescriptions are filled correctly. These steps include checking to confirm that there are no conflicts with medications the patient is taking, confirming the dosage prescribed by the doctor, and keeping conditions clean and organized so that all of the pharmacy staff know where to find things. When a patient requests a consultation, a pharmacist can provide any needed advice and answer questions.

Military pharmacies are designed to operate at a high level of efficiency while offering very high quality care. Medications are usually free or provided with a low co-pay, depending on the nation and the status of the patient. However, sometimes the restrictions in the pharmacy become limiting. For example, patients who need a brand name medication may not be able to access it through the military pharmacy if a generic is available, because the formulary only lists generics.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By andee — On Jan 13, 2012

Do you have to get different training to work in a military pharmacy as opposed to a regular pharmacy? If so, what kind? It seems like this would be a really good job in terms of stability -- and I bet you could get a good schedule too.

Besides, I think it would be really cool to be able to help out those in the military -- can anybody give me some more information on this?

By John57 — On Jan 12, 2012

Being married to a military man and living on more than one base, I can say how helpful the military pharmacies have been.

With having three kids, getting my prescriptions filled at a military pharmacy never puts me out very much money.

When I hear other moms talk about how much they spend on prescriptions, I am thankful that ours are so reasonable.

I have also never had a problem getting a prescription filled from the military formulary that I needed.

I have had the same good service at every military pharmacy I have ever used. From the pharmacist in charge down to the pharmaceutical tech, they have all been professional and efficient.

By honeybees — On Jan 12, 2012

If you are interested in pharmacy and don't want to have a lot of student loan debt, looking at the military pharmacy program is a great option.

I don't know all the details of the program, but my brother is working in the pharmacy on an army base. He received a sign on bonus and over a period of years, will get a portion of his pharmacist education paid for too.

Even though he is not interested in pharmacy just for the money, he does admit there are some pretty nice benefits included.

By Mykol — On Jan 11, 2012

I think getting a pharmacist degree would be interesting and rewarding whether you worked in a military pharmacy or not.

I have a friend who has worked the night shift as a pharmacist at a local hospital for many years. There are only two pharmacists who work this night shift and it is usually not nearly as stressful and busy as the day shift.

He also works 7 days straight, then has 7 days off in a row. This schedule allows him to travel and have a lot of family time at home.

Working as a pharmacist at a military pharmacy probably has a lot of perks that would make something like this worth looking into. A pharmacist is a field that you should be able to find work just about anywhere too.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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