Medical Device News Magazine

Thursday, March 23, 2023

What Does A Person Have To Do To Become A Pharmacist?

Become a Pharmacist! Is your lifelong dream to become a pharmacist? If yes, it is a sound career choice. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows income averages range from $61.88 or more per hour. Calculate that as monthly earnings, and you could take home a healthy paycheck.

As a pharmacist, you will be playing an essential role in the medical field. And, that is to dispense medication, often prescribed by health professionals.

Yet, it doesn’t end there. You also advise patients on best drug usage, and undertake an advisory role to doctors and health practitioners. These include advice on drug interaction, dosage, and best selections.

But, how do you get into pharmacy? Read on to find out.

1. You Need the Right Educational Qualifications

You must have a strong math and science foundation to pursue pharmacy. The basic requirement is a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD).

Of course, you must have completed your undergraduate degree and taken pre-pharmacy classes. Different programs have different requirements. Do take the time to find out what applies to your desired area of specialization.

You may, for instance, need to sit for the Pharmacy College Admissions tests (PCAT). Such will typically test for knowledge on subjects like biology, chemistry, comprehension, and quantitative abilities.

2. Internships and Additional Training

Completing the doctorate is just the first step. Students must go through internships and additional training programs. The advantage of the former is on-the-job training. Students get a firsthand experience of what the job entails.

Residency training and fellowship programs happen upon completion of the pharmacy degree. Residency offers generalized training within a wide range of clinical scenarios in year one.

Postgraduate year (PGY2) two allows students to go into an area of specialization. They will then apply for board certification as a way of establishing expertise in their area of practice.

Passing board certification exams can be challenging, and you need all the help you can get. Taking a free PTCB practice test exposes you to questions you can expect to see in the real exam.

The PTCB exam covers areas like:

  • Medication
  • Federal requirements
  • Quality assurance and patient safety
  • Order processing and entry.

The multiple-choice format of the pharmacy technician practice test makes it easy to use. And once the results are in, you can focus on areas of weakness.

Fellowship programs are for those who want to go into research. They will, on completion, work with drug companies, large commercial corporations, universities, and so on.

The areas of specialization are numerous, including clinical development, marketing, and drug safety. You may need a Ph.D. to conduct research or teach at the university level.

We can summarize the number of years as:

  • Undergraduate – 4 years. Some students will take pre-pharmacy courses together with the undergrad. It cuts down the time in undergraduate classes to two years and pre-pharm two years. It is a faster way to move to the next level. Do note, though, some pharmacy degree programs prefer students to go through the complete 4-year undergraduate program.
  • Pharmacy degree – 4 years. Some schools will offer accelerated programs that could take three years.
  • Residency – 2 years.

3. Licensing Requirements

To practice pharmacy, you need the relevant licensing. And, that requires sitting for additional exams. The US, for instance, has two of them.

  • North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) tests decision-making abilities. Patients depend on your abilities to make good choices. Otherwise, you could place their lives in danger with what you prescribe.
  • The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) focuses on pharmacy laws at the federal and state level.

Ensure there are no other licensing requirements in your state. Continuous education is also a requirement. There are credit hours you must complete, or you could lose your license.

Passing the licensing exams is the first step. The authorities will conduct background checks on you. There must also be proof of internship or postgraduate experience.

Other Things to Know About a Career in Pharmacy

We have covered one of the most critical questions, which center on educational requirements for pharmacy. Let’s explore others in this section.

  • Is Pharmacy difficult?

We would be lying if we said that it is not. From the above, it is pretty clear that it is a time-intensive course. A strong background in math and sciences also makes it challenging for some people. You must demonstrate some level of expertise in them to qualify.

  • Do I become a medical doctor with a pharmacy degree?

The answer to the question above is no. A PharmD degree does not make you a doctor. Neither did you attend medical school.

Remember, your job is not to treat illness, nor have the permission to do so. Your work is to dispense medication and give appropriate advice on usage.

  •  Can I get into pharmacy straight from high school?

The answer is yes. You can get into 6-year programs straight from high school.

  •  Are there online classes for aspiring pharmacists?

Tons of online classes offer pharmacy degrees. However, you will need to combine this with clinical practicals to qualify.

  •  What other skills does a pharmacist need to have?

Pharmacists must have a thirst for knowledge. Remember, ongoing education is a requirement to maintain your license. That means keeping up with trends and innovations within the medical field.

You must also be a good communicator and can educate other people. Other skills include analytical abilities, keen attention to detail, computer literacy, and a level of managerial proficiency.

Final Thoughts

Our article has looked at what it takes to become a pharmacist. These include an undergraduate degree, pre-pharmacy programs, and a pharmacy degree.

After that, you need to dedicate time to an internship or residency. It provides a fantastic opportunity to get on-the-job training.

Beyond this, it helps to cultivate some essential skills to make your job easier. These include analytical thinking, communication, computer literacy, and so on. You cannot practice pharmacy without the relevant licensing.

Every state or country has specific requirements you must fulfill to get the right licenses. Keep up with ongoing education and training. Not only do you get a competitive edge, which makes you more marketable. But, it is a condition to keeping your license.

Good luck with your career path in pharmacy.



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