Do you have a knack for learning about different types of medicines? Then you must know how to become a pharmacist. As pharmacy is a high paying field with good growth prospects, the competition is fierce. So, you need to do a well-researched medical study to become a pharmacist. To get that, you need to get a PharmD degree and take the necessary licensing exams.
The high level of schooling and the necessity of passing license exams deters some people from pursuing this career. But, if you study, then you’ll seek admission to a good university. Search for a university that provides you practical knowledge of your field.
Who is a Pharmacist?
A pharmacist is a person who prepares medicated drugs and provides them to his customers as prescribed by a physician. The profession of a pharmacist has evolved drastically within years. Earlier, these professionals were only known as the silent providers of medicated drugs. Their task would come up only for the preparation of medication. But, now, to become a pharmacist is a new history in itself.
In the U.S today, people look up to a pharmacist for information and suggestions regarding any medication. The preparation of medicated drugs takes place by the art of mixing various medicated powders and spirits. Furthermore, one can contact a pharmacist for counseling about the safe usage of medicines as prescribed to the patients. These people also help in giving parents some tips on how to administer medications to children and infants.
What are the Duties of a Pharmacist?
Pharmacists are available around the clock to answer all your questions or clear any doubts regarding the medication you are taking. A pharmacist also carefully reviews each medication profile as prescribed to a patient. They are cautious even in the refilling process and look for any non-compliance patterns in this process. The exact dosage of medication that they give is by keeping in mind the age and gender of a patient.
A pharmacist or a pharmacy can recommend physicians to patients who do not know which physician to consult when they are ill. Also, physicians may call and cross-check with the pharmacist about the medication as prescribed by the pharmacist to the patient.
The job of a pharmacist in the U.S is rewarding, benefitting, challenging, and satisfying but can get a little frustrating when a specific medication does not turn out well during preparation. For those who are looking for a career in pharmacy, they should get at it early. You can start as a pharmacy technician and then gain some experience and simultaneously study at a college of pharmacy to obtain a secured pharmacist position.
The Main Job Roles of a Pharmacist
Many pharmacists prefer working in retail and community surrounding while others like to work in healthcare facilities like hospitals and clinics. If you are a pharmacist who wants to work in a hospital setting will like to specialize in intravenous nutrition, geriatric (senior citizens) pharmacy, oncology (study of tumors) pharmacy, or nuclear (radioactive Materials) pharmacy. I wasn’t aware that even pharmacist prepares intravenous drugs and administers them on patients who are suffering from cancer and other serious ailments. Also, a pharmacist’s job is to keep a record of all the drugs that they administer on a patient.
If you are a senior pharmacist, you can teach part-time or become a full-time faculty in some of the pharmacy colleges and schools. The pharmacist can work in many places such as pharmaceutical companies, or they can work as marketing or sales professionals where they are supposed to market or sell medical drugs, government agencies, and other healthcare facilities. Many pharmacists can manage and own their pharmacy businesses, which means they know how to hire, fire, and do employee retention.
Why Become a Pharmacist in the U.S.?
So now you would like to know how to become a pharmacist? Unlike other career paths, becoming a pharmacist has only one method, and that is to attend university to gain a degree in pharmacy. Hence you should have a good study record and have the patience to go a long way more before you finally gain this degree.
To obtain a pharmacy degree can be taxing and strenuous, but it’s worth the effort as the job prospects are good for pharmacists. The pharmacy degree takes about six years to complete in means of full time. So, many of you might be in your mid twenty’s or older before you become a practicing pharmacist. This, in turn, will give you more time to gain more experience in this profession and also, as soon as you get out of university, you earn a good amount of money even in a starting phase.
Pros and Cons
Like every other job that has its ups and downs, even being a pharmacist has its ups and downs. The downs are that you might have to work long hours, work at nights and the weekends but the money you earn supersedes all these drawbacks. Even at entry-level, a pharmacist can make about $40 to 60$ easily per hour, depending on certain locations. I think this is a good amount of money for a ‘just graduate’. However, please do not choose this career only based on earning a good salary.
If you’re good at mathematics and chemistry amongst other subjects, then a pharmacy degree would be a cakewalk for you. Since the technical part of the degree program is quite tough, you need excellent mental capabilities for the same. If you have it, then you can go through it till the end without any breaks. Pharmacy is one of the few fields in scientific and medical research work that gets direct access to people. So, aim at becoming a pharmacist itself.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist
Those who would like to become a pharmacist should start early and study subjects such as mathematics and natural sciences. To seek admission in a PharmD program, students need to have completed at least two years of post-secondary education. Also, the majority of schools offering this program even ask for the PCAT exam as well. Becoming a pharmacist does take longer, but not as long as it would take to become a doctor.
To join a pharmacy as a pharmacist, i.e., a pharmacy technician, you would need certain educational qualifications. To start with, you must graduate with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD) from a college accredited by ACPE (American Council of Pharmaceutical Education). A PharmD degree takes a minimum of four years to complete.
Then, you’d need to work as an intern under a licensed pharmacist for a minimum of one year. Then, you’d get a step closer to become a pharmacist by becoming eligible for the computer-based state exam (NAPLEX – North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination). On clearing it, you’d gain your license for practicing as an authorized pharmacy technician. The applicant gets four hours to complete the test. Also, you’d need to take the MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination), which is an exam to test you on the laws of pharmacy in 43 states, including the District of Columbia.
These licensure requirements stand on equal grounds with other fields like doctors, lawyers, etc. The reason being pharmacists also work based on people’s belief and trust in them. They also handle a limited amount of substances, which can be misused, such as ethics and code of conduct.
There are some prerequisites to be able to register yourself for a PharmD degree. First, you need to have a high school diploma in subjects like biology, chemistry, physics, humanity, social sciences, and mathematics. You also need a college-level course in pre-pharmacy, which will get you the scores needed for Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). Once you pass this test, you can get admitted to any of the best pharmacy colleges in the U.S. or your state. You either need to get a bachelor’s degree or complete three years of college education to finally enroll yourself in a PharmD program.
10 Best Pharmacy Colleges in the U.S.
If you’re finding how to become a pharmacist, you can go to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education website. The site contains a list of all accredited programs with complete information. You need to research in a way to gather enough information to seek a right PharmD college. Programs of study usually include some practical training in pharmacies to gain experience. The training takes place under strict expert supervision.
- Auburn University/Harrison School of Pharmacy
- Samford University/ McWhorter School of Pharmacy
- University of California
- University of the Pacific/ Thomas J Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
- Regis University/ Rueckert –Hartman School of Health
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathy Medicine/ LECOM School of Pharmacy
- Wayne State University/ Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
- University of Montana-Missoula/ Skaggs School of Pharmacy
- Saint John Fisher College/ Wegmans School of Pharmacy
- Ohio Northern University/ Rudolph H Raabe College of Pharmacy
What Does a Pharmacist Earn?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):
- the employment of pharmacists in the United States will increase by 14 percent between 2012 and 2022
- As per their last report, the median annual wage for pharmacists was $128,090 in May 2019
The mean annual wage for pharmacists was $98,960 as of May 2007, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest-paid 10% of pharmacists made less than $73,010 (still an excellent salary), and the highest-paid 10% of pharmacists made over $126,410.
You won’t be in the highest-paid 10% when you have set off, but with experience, you could get there. The high career prospects and the salary margin is motivating enough to get through the cut-throat competition. There are excellent job prospects that will spur some people on to become pharmacists. Also, if you want to explore more fields, you can know how to become a cop or a notary in Florida. Make your passion, your career with our guides.
Pharmacists were previously known as chemists if you remember. These people play a very vital role in the public and, in many ways, to the healthcare industry. What would physicians do if there were no drugs to administer to their patients to cure or treat them? What would you and I do if we did not have a drug to cure our temporary pains and aches? Nothing! Thank our stars that we’ve got medicine for all our aches coz of the Pharmacists.