You are organized, have good communication skills, excel at chemistry and math, and like to solve problems. A career as a pharmacist might be right for you because:
You would be an important member of a healthcare team but would not deal with most physical aspects of patient care.
People who take prescription (and non-prescription) drugs would look to you to make sure medications are safe and effective.
A pharmacist’s work schedule can be flexible. You could work part-time, evenings or weekends, or opt for a seven-day-on/seven-day-off shift.
You could become a full-fledged, licensed pharmacist with a Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD) in your early 20’s and may not have to complete a residency program.
With many innovations and new drugs, it is an exciting and challenging field.
You would be in demand, earn a good salary and could work in many different locations throughout the country.
You would help people become healthier.
Internet Research: Like physicians and nurses, pharmacists take an oath. Research and list five of the vows in the Oath of a Pharmacist.
Internet Research: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in what type of work environment can a pharmacist expect to work?
Internet Research: What is the job outlook for pharmacists?
The Journey to Becoming a Pharmacist
As a pre-pharmacy student, you will complete two to four years of undergraduate school at a college or university and will take the PCAT to qualify for pharmacy school. Your pre-pharmacy studies are similar to pre-medical school and include courses such as:
Mathematics (including statistics)
Anatomy and Physiology
Introductory pharmacy classes
Natural sciences such as chemistry, biology and physics
Your PharmD degree from an accredited college or school of pharmacy takes another four years to complete. Courses teach you about all aspects of drug therapy and how to communicate with patients and other healthcare providers about drug information and patient care. In addition, you will learn about professional ethics, concepts of public health and business management. Besides classroom instruction, you will experience clinical rotations working with licensed pharmacists in a variety of practice settings.
One semester of your graduate program courses may include:
Biological Systems I
Healthcare Delivery Systems
Pharmacy Practice & Experience I
Biochemical & Molecular Sites of Drug Actions
Internet Research: Research a local college/university/school with a PharmD degree program. Provide the following information:
Entrance requirements (GPA, PCAT score, essays)
Tuition costs (per credit hour or per semester)
Length of program/degree
Courses/classes required to graduate
Internet Research: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, what is the current median pay of a pharmacist?
The Responsibilities of a Pharmacist
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of prescriptions. They also provide advice on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations and oversee the medications given to patients.
Pharmacists typically do the following:
Fill prescriptions, verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give patients
Check whether the prescription will negatively interact with other drugs that a patient is taking or with any of the patient’s medical conditions
Instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine and inform them about potential side effects
Advise patients about general health topics such as diet, exercise, stress management and equipment or supplies that would be best to treat a health problem
Give flu shots and, in most states, other vaccinations
Complete insurance forms and work with insurance companies to ensure that patients get the medicines they need
Oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in training (interns)
Keep records and other administrative tasks
Teach other healthcare practitioners about proper medication therapies for patients
On Your Own: Using the list above, identify which responsibilities benefit the patient and which responsibilities benefit other members of the healthcare team.
Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT): The PCAT is a multiple choice 232-question test with one writing topic. The PCAT costs $199 to register.
(“Pharmacy College Admission Test.” Testopedias. N.P., n.d. Web. 12 June 2014.)