Pharmacy is a scientific field which includes preparing, dispensing, and drugs. It also includes additional clinical services. A pharmacist is a medical expert who has a thorough knowledge of medicines. There are various duties and responsibilities of a pharmacist. Some of the responsibilities of pharmacists are: dispensing medicines, considering safety for the prescribed therapy, monitoring patient health, collaborating with physicians/nurse/health care, and many others.
If you want to become a licensed and professional pharmacist, you need to go through step by step procedure. There is no shortcut to becoming a pharmacist. You need to put hard work and effort to get known as a certified and licensed pharmacist. For many people, the pathway of becoming a pharmacist might seem complex, but it is worth it when you start getting the results.
In this post, we will share the best routes to become a pharmacist. If you are a newbie and you have a great interest in the pharmacy field, you must be excited to know about the complete pathway to the pharmacy. So, let’s start with pathways to the pharmacy.
Pathway to Pharmacy
As we know, pharmacy is a wide and diverse field. It is also one of the best and rewarding career options out there. Pharmacy includes drug development, community practice, education, hospital pharmacy, consultant pharmacy, and many other areas. The pathway to pharmacy includes everything from preparation for pharmacy school to getting the pharmacist license. Here’s the complete pathway to the pharmacy:
1. Preparing for pharmacy school
To get accepted for an undergraduate pharmacy program, you need to have your high school diploma degree. First of all, you need to prepare yourself for college. You will also need to decide on several pharmacy degrees out there.
To get a clear idea, you need to research the classes you will need to take during pharmacy school. During the undergraduate pharmacy studies, it is a good idea to gain some experience in the pharmacy field. Doing so will not just be the add-on on your resume, but it will also help you to get a job or internship.
2. Completing the Pharmacy School
The next step is completing pharmacy school. To join your desired pharmacy school, you need to take the PCAT examination first. PCAT means The Pharmacy College Admission Test. It is an admission test for the pharmacy school through which you can get the admission in your dream pharmacy school. You need to register for PCAT online by visiting the official website, and there you will be asked to select schools that you would like to send scores to.
After you receive your undergraduate degree, get some hands-on experience, and complete the PCAT examination, now you need to apply to pharmacy schools. You may have a list of requirements you want from pharmacy school. Depending on your requirements, you need to apply to different pharmacy schools.
Once you apply to your desired pharmacy school and get the admission, the next step is to get the Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the pharmacy school.
3. Getting a job
The last and important stage in the pharmacy is getting a job. Before you start looking for a pharmacy job, you need to make sure that you have pharmacy licensure. To get the licensure and become a licensed pharmacist, you will need to take NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination). This exam tests everything you learned at your pharmacy school.
Once you become a licensed pharmacist, you may want to gain further education to become a specialized pharmacist. In such situations, you need to complete the pharmacy residency and BPS (Board of Pharmacy Specialities) certification. Pharmacy residency is for two years.
Once you gain your pharmacy degree, pass the licensure examination, and gain some specialties, then the job part comes in. Now, you are a fully licensed pharmacist, and now you are ready to earn a great amount of money through the skills and knowledge regarding pharmacy you have.
After gaining sufficient mastery and skills in the field, you can also open your own pharmacy. However, you need to keep in mind that opening your own pharmacy includes various costs and proper management.
Online vs Physical Location College
With the technology presence, there’s an increase in the craze of online education. Here we will discuss online pharmacy education vs physical location college pharmacy education. Let’s start with going to pharmacy school online:
Going to School Online
With the advancement of technology, we can find changes in so many sectors like business, banking, education, etc. The technology made it possible for students to complete the degree without going to school. If you want to do a pharmacy degree, but it is not possible to enroll due to the job or any other reasons, then online education can be a good way to complete pharmacy school.
In the US, there are several online schools where you can enroll and complete your pharmacy degree online. Instead of traveling from home to school to attending lectures, you can attend live lectures by enrolling for an online school. This is the best advantage of online schooling because you are saving so much of your time by learning from home.
The downside of online schooling is that most students can’t focus on their studies properly. If you are planning to complete the pharmacy degree online, the important thing you need to keep in mind is that just attending live lectures is not enough. You do have to focus on assignments and projects you receive. The main difference you will find in an online pharmacy school is lab visits. The students on campus conduct lab sessions weekly, while distance students visit the campus for two weeks during the summer.
Physical Location College
Whether you choose an online pharmacy or physical location college studies, both have their own set of pros and cons. If we talk about completing pharmacy education offline, it helps to provide a real-time experience. On the other hand, online or distance education cannot provide you real-time education experience.
Going with physical location college allows you to focus on your regular lectures and assignments; on the other hand, it can be a bit difficult to focus on regular assignments and lectures through online education. The best thing about doing pharmacy offline is you build so many networks.
Through online studies, you don’t get the benefit of networking. Networking is one of the crucial parts of your pharmacy school. The only thing you are going to take with you after the completion of pharmacy school is the networks you have built.
Pharmacy Programs Structure
Depending upon the pharmacy college and school you apply, the length and structure of the program will differ. Each school has a different pharmacy program length. You will find that the majority of the pharmacy colleges have 2 + 4 years of program length.
As we know, each pharmacy school has different course length, structure, and criteria, you need to make sure that you are clear about your selected school’s program structure. The program structure could be 2-3, 2-4, 3-4, or 4. Now, what do these actually mean?
2-3 means the program structure must include a minimum of 2 years of pre-pharmacy study followed by 3-years of accelerated professional study to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. 2-4 means the program structure includes the minimum of 2-years of pre-pharmacy study followed by 4-years of accelerated professional study to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
3-4 means the program structure includes the minimum of 3-years of pre-pharmacy study followed by 4-years of accelerated professional study to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. And, 4 means the program structure includes 2-4 years of pre-pharmacy study followed by 4 years of professional study leading to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
2 + 4 Pharmacy Schools
2-4 means the program structure includes the minimum of 2-years of pre-pharmacy study followed by 4-years of accelerated professional study to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Depending upon the pharmacy school you are selecting, the course length and structure will differ. One thing you should know that most of the pharmacy schools offer 2 + 4 Doctor of Pharmacy programs. Here are some 2 + 4 pharmacy schools:
1. Hampton School of Pharmacy
To get the enrollment for PharmD at Hampton University, you need to complete the PCAT (The Pharmacy College Admission Test) and score the percentile rank of 50 or higher. If your score is more than 50 percentile rank, you can apply in the Hampton school of pharmacy.
2. FAMU College of Pharmacy
FAMU College of Pharmacy is another pharmacy school where you can get 2 years of pre-pharmacy education followed by 4 years of Doctor of Pharmacy education. The pharmacy program by this university focuses on providing academic success, research superiority, and providing the best community services.
3. Purdue University
While applying for the PharmD program with Purdue University, you need to take note that PCAT scores are not used in the admission procedure by them. You will need to meet the basic qualifications for admission. And then, you will be invited for the personal interview. You get admission after meeting all of their requirements.
Top 5 Pharmacy Schools in the U.S.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 pharmacy schools in the United States:
1. University of North Carolina
The University of North Carolina (UNC) is the first pharmacy school you should consider. It offers three distinctive pharmacy programs. The PharmD program at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy was reaccredited in January 2012 by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
2. University of Minnesota
At the University of Minnesota, there are so many pharmacy programs available. The main objective of the University of Minnesota is to have proper patient care. The programs by Minnesota University include – Dual degree programs, Doctor of Pharmacy, A Postgraduate pharmacy residency program, Continuing professional development, and other different graduate programs.
3. University of California San Francisco (UCSF)
The University of California San Francisco University provides different pharmacy degree programs. Apart from different degree programs, the university also offers postdoctoral and international programs as well. The programs by UCSF include – Doctor of Pharmacy program, PharmD/MSCR, PharmD/Ph.D., and Master of Translational Medicine degree program.
4. University of Michigan
If we talk about the University of Michigan, it has to offer a wide range of programs for pharmacy. The single programs by Michigan university include – PharmD, Ph.D. in clinical pharmacy, Ph.D. in Medical Chemistry, and many others. The dual programs include PharmD & MBA, Dual PharmD, and MPH program.
Top 3 Online Schools for PharmD
Just talking about the physical location pharmacy colleges is not enough, hence here we have listed the top three online schools for the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. Here’s the list:
1. Creighton University
Creighton University’s program for Doctor of Pharmacy is considered as the best online PharmD program. The university allows students to focus on the directions that interest the students. The university is accredited to the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The campus location of Creighton University is at Omaha, NE.
2. University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado Denver School of Pharmacy is another university that offers a distance education program for PharmD. The university is accredited to the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education. The campus location of the university is in Aurora, CO. The distance program by the University of Colorado Denver is designed to improve clinical care and the medical therapy management skills of students. To get the admission, the students must fill up and submit the application along with its fee.
3. Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Another top online school for the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program in Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. The program provides great opportunities for students to enter the field of pharmacy. The campus location of Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine is at Erie, PA. The university is accredited to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. To get admission to this online school, students must submit a form with the application fee.
What is the Best Way to Become a Pharmacist?
As we have seen, there are two main ways through which you can become a pharmacist. Either you can go to the physical location (offline) college or learn about the pharmacy online. If you are here, you must be finding the best way to become a pharmacist. Both online & offline education have their own pros and cons.
It totally depends on your situation whether you should go with an online pharmacy option or move towards doing pharmacy offline. Doing pharmacy online will help you save your time on traveling, save your money and energy. On the other hand, offline pharmacy education will help to increase your knowledge & skills, and also will help to build networks.
As we can see, both have their own pros and cons, we need to consider all the factors and then make an ideal decision. If we consider different aspects, going to physical location, pharmacy school is more advisable. The reason behind this is pharmacy is the field that requires so much hard work and effort. Doing pharmacy online is just like you are gaining theoretical knowledge.
The major downside doing the Doctor of Pharmacy degree online is that you don’t build networks. You just keep attending the live lectures, and you don’t really engage with anyone much. On the other hand, offline pharmacy program allows you to build networks with different people. Networking is one of the crucial parts of your pharmacy school. The only thing you are going to take with you after the completion of pharmacy school is the networks you have built.
The main issue with getting pharmacy education online is that you may have more than one priority. While studying online, you may have some part-time job or working somewhere. In such situations, it is very difficult to manage the tasks and assignments you receive. You might find it difficult to complete the assignments properly.
Hence we can conclude that the best way to become a pharmacist is by joining your desired pharmacy school offline. This will not just provide you a great study experience but will also help to build connections with others and increase your skills in the pharmacy field.
The Doctor of Pharmacy is professional coursework that requires proper dedication and hard work. If you want to get into pharmacy, you need to make sure that you would be able to tackle all the challenges and put hard work. In this post, we have shared the best way to become a pharmacist.
If you want to become a pharmacist, you must be confused about whether you should get into an online pharmacy program or do a physical location pharmacy program. Here we have shared everything you need to know about online vs the physical location college pharmacy studies.