How to Become a Pharmacist

1 month ago Vanessa Garcia Comments Off on How to Become a Pharmacist

Becoming a pharmacist is no easy task, but the benefits are outstanding. Pharmacy is one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States, and a career as a pharmacist is both lucrative and rewarding. Pharmacists dispense prescriptions to patients, counsel patients on these prescriptions, and work closely with physicians and hospitals in order to provide the best treatment options for each patient. A pharmacist can expect to start in the 89,000-100,000 dollar salary range, along with the added benefits of retirement packages, insurance coverage, and the ability to work face-to-face with the general public in a respected field.

Work Experience

There is no work experience required to begin a career in pharmacy, although a strong background in math and sciences goes a long way toward fostering success in the field. Many applicants to pharmacy schools have some experience working as pharmacy technicians, although most pharmacy schools do not require prior experience before admission is granted.

Choosing a Pharmacy School

With almost 100 accredited pharmacy schools in the United States, choosing a school to attend can be a daunting task. Some pharmacy schools pack their course loads into two or three years, while most offer a four-year program. Some pharmacy schools are quite large, with class sizes exceeding 200 or more students, while others are very small and admit only 90 applicants each year. Every pharmacy school requires written applications, letters of recommendation, and usually an on-campus interview. The application process can be time-consuming and costly, but for the applicant who is serious about becoming a pharmacist, the time and effort spent applying to the right-fit schools is worth the trouble.

Education

Once an applicant is accepted into a program, they can expect the pharmacy school curriculum to be rich in math and science, including courses in calculations, anatomy, chemical compounding, and drug interactions. In a typical four-year pharmacy program, students undergo three years of classroom coursework, and then spend a fourth year completing rotations. Rotations are six to eight week blocks of experience in the field. Some pharmacy schools require the student to obtain a certain number of intern hours working in a local pharmacy, and these required hours vary by state. Most states require 1500 total hours of experience before the Doctor of Pharmacy degree is earned. Up to 1200 of these hours are usually obtained during the fourth year as a student completes rotations, leaving the student with around 300 additional hours to complete during the four-year program. The coursework in pharmacy school can be intense, but many pharmacy students find the time to hold part-time jobs outside of school, or choose to work full-time as pharmacy technicians during the summer breaks from school.

Working as a pharmacy technician while attending pharmacy school comes with the added benefit of earning higher pay than a regular technician. While attending pharmacy school, the student achieves pharmacy intern status, and this status affords more pay as well as added responsibility in a pharmacy setting. These added responsibilities can vary by company, but any type of experience goes a long way toward building confidence in the field.

Career Options

Once the Doctor of Pharmacy degree is obtained, the pharmacist has a few options for career paths. One option is to work in labs conducting research on new and existing drugs and their interactions with other medications, foods, the environment, etc. Another option is to work for a pharmaceutical company as a sales representative. Most graduates, however, find that their skills are best put to use working as pharmacists. There are pharmacies in many retail stores, hospitals, community pharmacies, clinics, and on military bases. opening a new pharmacy and working as the owner and head pharmacist is an ambitious option for pharmacy school graduates as well.

Continuing Education

Each state requires a minimum amount of continuing education in order to renew a pharmacist’s license each year. These continuing education courses can usually be completed online, and serve to keep a pharmacist up-to-date on trends and changes in the field.

Becoming a pharmacist takes a few years of hard work and dedication, but the benefits of working in this well-respected field far outweigh the struggles.