Being on the right path of starting that pharmacy career that you’ve always loved is one of the exciting experiences you will always treasure.

It may sound like a fresh start and the right time for you to learn new things and grow your life to greener pasture.

The pharmacy profession enables and engages you with activities that would better the lives of a lot of people.

So, if you are considering threading this path either by going to the university or you are in one already, you already made a great decision to touch lives positively.

While going to the university may not equip you with the necessary orientation needed to excel in the pharmaceutical industry, it is essential to get yourself oriented with things to know about being a pharmacist that we already discussed in this piece.

THE FUNCTION AND BASICS OF THE PHARMACIST CAREER 

Pharmacists are the health personnel that ensures that sick people get the right treatments and drugs for their health problems.

Working together with the public, pharmaceutical companies, and doctors, as a pharmacist, you are entrusted with people’s lives, and also responsible for the safety of pharmacological practices.

This is due to your years of study and experience that these sectors believed, has equipped you with the required skills and knowledge to practice in this field.

Irrespective of whether you are already in possession of a postsecondary degree or just graduating from college, there are a lot of career options that are available for you when you are ready to put in the right amount of work, pass your examinations, and work hard and smart.

Your chances to secure a job in the pharmaceutical industry as a pharmacist are truly limitless.

When a sick person sees a doctor and obtains his/her prescription for some meds, you, as a pharmacist, is the health practitioner who will interpret the doctor’s prescriptions and release the drug to the patient.

Even though this may appear too straightforward, you still need your vast experience with drugs, understanding of chemical reactions and allergen of a person, and regulation during this process of issuing medications to get the right thing done.

As a pharmacist, you need to be well-sensitized regarding disease prevention, health promotion, and public health.

You can also work together with the general public, technicians, and assistants to promote health awareness. You will find them in many fields ranging from hospitals and private pharmacies to drug stores.

PHARMACIST JOB GROWTH AND SALARIES

Source: Drug Channels

Figure 1: Pharmacy Employment, by Industry and Dispensing Format

Source: Drug Channels

This profession always has many juicy offers including a good salary for you and other young and experienced pharmacists.

From the stat above, about 5.6% pharmacists would be gainfully employed by 2026. And also, pharmacist employment at independent, long-term, and chain pharmacies will upsurge by 4% in 2026. You can see the opportunities already prepared ahead for you.

The job space for pharmacists, which is as a result of the advancement in healthcare medicine, is experiencing growth like never before.

For example, Alabama and Alaska have an annual average job growth rate of 1.9% and 25.1%, respectively. Additionally, if you are the type of pharmacist with entrepreneurial inclinations, you stand to benefit more.

Source: First Semester Dc

Figure 2: Chart of Pharmacists Average Salary Based on Their Experience in Field of Expertise

Source: First Semester Dc

BECOMING A PHARMACIST: THE STEPS TO TAKE

1. Finish the Appropriate Degree Programs

There are two different ways in which you can complete the educational requirements of becoming a pharmacist.

Either by finishing a relevant undergraduate program before going for a graduate program or then by combining all the coursework into a single program. We address both of these paths in this section.

The Undergraduate + Graduate Program

If you choose this path, you will offer pre-pharmacy courses for a four or two-year degree. This enables you to have a foreknowledge of the graduate program.

For the two-year programs, your focus will be on courses that are important to the field while the four-year degree includes wide-ranging subjects and general education.

During this stage, you will take some courses that include organic and general chemistry, physiology and human anatomy; cellular and molecular biology; statistics; microbiology; English, and calculus. Then after, you can proceed to opt-in for a doctoral program of four years.

The Graduate Program

There are different ways of offering combined degrees so that you would have the flexibility to complete all your coursework relatively fast. Six and seven-year programs are common.

These programs award you with bachelor and doctor of pharmacy degrees when you graduate.

However, I recommend this program for you if you want to complete your program quickly, and you’re passionate about your career goals.

Of course, you need need to pass the tests from the pharmacy college admissions or university assessment exercise before you can secure admission to this graduate program.

2. Pass Licensure Needs

There is a mandate at the country level for pharmacists to pass their licensing requirements before they can get the license to practice.

This implies that when you graduate from college, you have to fulfill these requirements for you to practice.

However, most requirements to practice differ based on the country or states you aim to work. Some may have you get your doctoral degree accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

Some of the licensing examination you must pass are Written and Practical exam, the Multi-State Pharmacy Jurisprudence, and the North American Pharmacist Licensing Exam (NAPLEX), especially if you want to practice in the United States. As I said earlier, this varies depending on the country you are. So, I advise you to be current and feed yourself with relevant updates.

The NAPLEX consists of 185 questions that test the knowledge of the candidates on therapeutic and pharmacotherapy outcomes, distributing and preparing medication, and making the health condition of their patients better.

The Multi-State Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam squarely centers on ascertaining the knowledge of students on state and federal laws about pharmaceutical practice.

This exam makes sure that as a pharmacist, you come to terms with the legal consequences of distributing and prescribing drugs.

Worth to note, getting your license the first time does not imply that you have lifetime access to practice.

If you do not renew at the appropriate time, your license will become invalid. Also, your license can be revoked if your practice and operations are not in line with the regulatory body that grants you the license initially.

Pharmacy is a delicate profession that deals with lives, so incorporating the best standard and practice and adhere to rules strictly will save your job.

3. Finish Post-Doctoral Training       

Pharmacists specializing in pharmaceutics mostly finish their residency program, which lasts a year or two.

This post-doctoral training provides you with the right knowledge that you need to get into these fields, irrespective of whether you want to go for pharmacoepidemiology or psychopharmacology.

PREPARING FOR A CAREER IN PHARMACY: PROGRAMS AND PHARMACY SCHOOLS

1. Pre-Pharmacy

Being a Pre-pharmacy student, you will first take this 2, 3 or 4-year undergraduate course program that would help you when you advance in your field.

You can, however, concentrate on a topic that exclusively has to do with pharmaceutics, if you want to complete the short term programs.

The normal classes that you will take include pathophysiology, biochemistry, physiology, anatomy, and organic chemistry.

Biology

Biology is a vital course that you must know intensively if you want to become a pharmacy. It furnishes you with an understanding of living organism, their formation, growth, and evolution.

You need the skill and foundational knowledge in courses like genetics or cell biology that will help prepare you ahead for some other advanced topics that you will come across later in the course of your study.

Some of the important classes that you will take include organismic biology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, genetics, and cell biology.

When you get acquainted with these topics, trust me, you will appreciate pharmacy more.

Chemistry

Pharmacy mainly revolves around chemistry, so being versatile in chemistry courses will enable you to have a basic understanding of chemical methods and experimentation, and how chemical compounds function to help in drug formulations and its working principles in treatments.

2. The Admission Requirements for Pharmacy School 

When you decide to advance your study in pharmacy, you need to meet the requirements required by the institutions offering pharmacy courses or accredited pharmacy schools to enroll for the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program.

Demands vary depending on the school, so you need to be aware of the requirement required by your school of interest.

Doctor of Pharmacy

Degree Duration: 4 years

Basic Requirements

You have to maintain a certain GPA and complete about 2000 hours of clinical coursework. However, some programs will request that you should write and research a dissertation.

What sets this program apart from different from others?

This program prepares students who have no idea of postsecondary coursework to be general-purpose pharmacists.

Who needs this program?

This course is for students with undergraduate training in a related field that decide to pick a career in pharmacy.

Doctor of Pharmacy and Bachelor’s Hybrid Degree

Degree Duration: 6-8 years

Basic Requirements

You have to complete a minimum of 2 years of related undergraduate coursework, including courses in physiology, biology, English and advanced math, anatomy, and chemistry.

Also, you may need to write exams such as PCAT or any other as requested by your chosen school before you enroll for a combined degree. You are successful in this; you will both a Ph.D. and a Bachelor’s degree.

What sets this the program apart from the others?

You can also shorten the amount of time required to complete this program.

Who needs this program?

High-school graduates with a certainty that you need a combined degree in pharmacy.

Doctor of Pharmacy Combined Degrees

Degree Duration: 6-8 years 

Basic Requirements

Here, you need to fulfill all requirements for a second degree and complete the Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Written/oral examinations or thesis may be needed here as well.

What sets this the program apart from the others?

You can combine degrees in pharmaceutics such as a master’s degree in regulatory sciences, public health, and gerontology, or even an MBA or a Juris Doctor.

SOME IMPORTANT PHARMACEUTICAL COURSES THAT WILL HELP YOUR PROFESSIONALISM

Pharmaceutical Calculations

Taking this course will help you to the various skills needed to dispense, compound, and use drugs. It also provides you with some in-depth understanding of the mathematical aspect of drug prescription.

What This Course Teaches

  • Various types of math the pharmacy profession needs
  • Using scales, measures, weights and predict the right dosages
  • More confidence in drug prescription

Pharmacy Practice Skills

Here, you will learn how to help develop the skills you need to work with drugs. Drug dispensation, rules guiding pharmacists, and the right way of providing drugs people are part of what you will learn.

What This Course Teaches

  • Knowledge of the common drugs in the field
  • Knowledge of disease prevention and health promotion
  • The culture of compounding medicines

Pharmacoepidemiology

If you find yourself in this section, you will specialize more in research, risk management, drug measurements, and drug safety, as you get to inquire about the causes of diseases and the pattern of these diseases affecting human health.

Pharmacoeconomics

Pharmacists in this field specialize in developing studies that would check the economic and clinical components of the industry. Pharmaceutical organizations often get their inspiration from the research that the pharmacoeconomists conduct.

Also, you will do investigations into alternative therapies and the evaluation of some of the other treatments that are not in the field of pharmacoeconomics.

With the coming economic disruption that is threatening to invade every field, you will have the useful knowledge to adapt and effect a positive change in your career.

Global Medicine

If you have good knowledge of global medicine, you will flourish in modern medicine as there is a need for your impact on the betterment of health in developing nations.

This course will also equip you to have a sound knowledge of public health, medication safety, pharmacotherapy, and the methods of discouraging disease and promoting health in global health grounds.

Healthcare Decision Analysis

Are you interested in starting a pharmacy business after school? Then you will appreciate this field of healthcare and decision analysis.

More to this, you will learn the knowledge of policies and economics surrounding healthcare and pharmaceutics, drug access, pricing structures, coverage qualifiers, reimbursement policies, and many more.

CONSTITUENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL PHARMACIST CAREER: SKILLS NEEDED

Ability to Recollect

Your ability to recollect is a beneficial skill for as a pharmacist.

Whether it is brand vs. generic names, likely drug interactions, or side effects, the ability to have these at your fingertips is one big way for you to succeed as a pharmacist.

Paying Attention to Details

The pharmacy profession permits no error at all, and paying attention to the tiniest details is not negotiable.

Even the smallest error in the recommended dosage and prescription-strength can be fatal to one’s life.

These skills are indispensable if you are a research pharmacist.

This is especially true when you are reporting the object of their findings that would likely have an impact on the introduction of new drugs to the drug market.

Knowledge of Drugs 

This is especially important when considering other factors such as allergies and prior medical histories.

Even though it is the doctors that prescribe drugs to patients, you are the final decision-maker in dispensing the drugs as a pharmacist.

The right knowledge of the available medicines and their working principle will help you make the right decisions when prescribing drugs to patients.

Ability to Work as a Team

Pharmacists are one of those who mingle with a whole lot of other people, whether they are doctors, pharmacy technicians, or other specialists.

So having excellent communication skills and being able to provide the right answers when asked vital questions is highly indispensable to you as a pharmacist.

Credentials

You may want to opt-in for more skills or a better specialization in addition to your license.

The field of pharmacy is becoming increasingly broad, and a lot of pharmaceutical postgraduate programs for skill improvement are becoming widespread.

And as such, many pharmacists are looking for ways to make themselves more valuable, and you shouldn’t be left out here too. These certification programs duration vary between 1 – 2 years.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Pharmacists have vast knowledge when it comes to the prescription of drugs, including their mode of operation, how to take them, their effects on people, and how they interact with other medications.

They contribute significantly to people’s lives and are as important as doctors in the health industry.

Having the right information is central to your quest to become a pharmacist.

Even though hard work is vital, some facts need to be at your disposal for you to make the right decision.

What You Need to Know About Being a Pharmacist

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