Enjoying a career as a pharmacist won’t happen overnight. This isn’t an entry-level position. Instead, it’s a career you will need the right training to enter. Becoming a pharmacist isn’t easy and it will take some time.
It’s a good idea to understand the path it will take to become a pharmacist before you start. You will need to go to school for six years and gain the proper work experience after completing your degree programs.
What is a Pharmacist?
Pharmacists will work with prescribed medications and they can recommend over-the-counter medications, as well. When a pharmacist receives a prescription, they will package the right medication for the patient. The medication will be provided to the patient with the correct dosage and safety.
When it comes to over-the-counter medications, a pharmacist becomes the first point of contact for patients. They can advise for minor ailments or refer the patient to a physician, if necessary.
Some of the duties of a pharmacist include:
- Preparing medications for dispensing
- Advising patients with over-the-counter drugs
- Administering vaccinations
- Completing necessary paperwork
- Providing health screening for asthma, diabetes, and even high blood pressure
- Advising patients with general health issues, including diet and even stress management
- Perform administration tasks
As a pharmacist, you can choose to specialize in specific areas. Some of the specializations include drug therapies, such as intravenous nutrition support, cancer, or even psychiatric drugs.
What’s the Process to Become a Pharmacist?
It will likely take around six years of education to become an entry-level pharmacist after high school. It will start with at least two years of undergraduate study, along with four years of studying for a pharmacist degree.
Pharmacists Education Requirements
As medical professionals, it’s necessary to get the right training and license. Pharmacists will need to complete the following educational requirements.
1. Get Your Degree
Pharmacists don’t have to get a specific degree. However, it takes at least a two-year degree to be accepted into pharmacy school. Getting a bachelor’s degree with related coursework is a good choice, however.
Undergraduate degrees in chemistry, anatomy, biology, physics, and math are preferred. A pre-med degree is another good option for a student looking to become a pharmacist.
2. Attend and Complete Pharmacy School
If you’re thinking about applying to pharmacy school, you need to prepare for the PCAT (What’s the PCAT?) as it’s likely that one of the schools you’re applying to requires it.
Getting a pharmacy degree takes four years and it must come from a school accredited by the ACPE. After completing the degree program, you will earn your Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
The focus of this degree will be the science of medications and drugs. You will study subjects, such as medical chemistry, biopharmaceuticals, ethics and laws with prescription management, absorption rates of drugs, and more.
Students will also receive practical training with a licensed pharmacist in a variety of pharmacy settings.
3. Complete an Internship or Residency
After completing your pharmacy school degree, you’ll need to gain the right training from an internship or residency. If you want to work in a clinical setting, a residency is likely required.
It’s necessary to apply through the Pharmacy Online Residency Centralized Application Service. This service can match you with the right placement.
4. Get Your State License
When it comes to becoming a pharmacist, you’ll need to obtain your state license, too. It’s necessary to practice and you will need to pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination. This test is administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
In some states, you will also need to pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam. This test is all about pharmacy law. It may also be necessary to gain a certain number of hours of practical experience before you apply for your license.
The tests for your pharmacist license aren’t easy. It’s often a good idea to use the right online prep courses for your exams. This can help with passing your tests the first time around so you don’t have to retake them.
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Pharmacist
Is the field of pharmacy growing?
Pharmacists won’t be going into a field that is growing. However, it’s a field that is expected to remain stable over the next ten years.
Employment rates for pharmacists in clinics and hospitals are likely to increase due to the number of medications being subscribed to an aging population. As chronic diseases continue to increase in the older population, pharmacists will be necessary.
The need for new pharmacists is expected to make up for the decline in retail pharmacists and drug store pharmacists. With online pharmacies becoming more popular, the retail sector may be declining, but other sectors are growing.
What can you earn as a Pharmacist?
When you complete your training to become a pharmacist, you can earn between $20.30 and $98.20 with an average per hour amount of $52.95.
What are the most common skills necessary to become a Pharmacist?
As a pharmacist, you need to be accurate and have plenty of integrity. Interpersonal skills are necessary, along with the ability to multitask.
Which professional organizations should pharmacists consider joining?
As a pharmacist, you can join many organizations including:
- The American Pharmacists Association – This is the largest professional organization for pharmacists.
- The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy – This organization supports members looking to advance their knowledge within the industry.
- The American College of Clinical Pharmacy – The ACCP offers help to pharmacists as they grow their practice with educational programs.
Where do Pharmacists commonly work?
Pharmacists work in retail stores, hospitals, drug stores, and clinics. There are some that will work in the military or a government setting, as well.
Some pharmacists may work in specialized areas. They may perform research for pharmaceutical manufacturers or even work on marketing. It’s even possible to work as faculty teaching pharmacy students.
If I already have a degree in healthcare (or related science) can I finish pharmacy school in less time?
No, applicants who have already earned an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree in a related field must still complete the entire pharmacy degree program. Which is 3 calendar years or 4 academic years, but course waivers may also be available.
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