Pharmacy is a scientific field which includes preparing and dispensing 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.
How Much School is required To Be a Pharmacist?
To become a pharmacist, you need to spend years getting education and experience. Pharmacy is a booming sector, and demand for pharmacists is increasing nowadays. So, whatever time you will spend in getting the education and experience of pharmacy, will pay off with a rewarding job position.
The duration of completing a pharmacist curriculum is based on the pharmacy school you have enrolled in. In most cases, the pharmacy contains six years of higher education. The first two years of pharmacy school are of include general undergraduate courses, and the last four years are specific to pharmacy.
You need to get a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from an accredited institution. And, after getting the Doctor of Pharmacy degree, you have to pass a state pharmacy exam for licensure. Once you pass the state pharmacy exam, you will be a professional and licensed pharmacist. The state pharmacy exam after pharmacy school includes NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) and MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination). Pharmacy schooling consists of the following stages:
The first step in your journey of becoming a pharmacist is going through undergraduate studies. Usually, the pharmacy undergraduate pharmacy consists of two to four years of studies. To help you prepare for PharmD, undergraduate studies of pharmacy include biology, chemistry, anatomy, physics, and physiology.
After the completion of undergraduate studies in pharmacy, you need to pass the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) examination. Mostly, students apply for the examination after completing undergraduate studies. However, if you have passed advanced courses in your high school, you are eligible to apply for the test after finishing high school.
After completing your undergraduate studies and passing the test, you can get admission into the post-graduation school for PharmD. Usually, the PharmD course (after undergraduate studies) in the US is for four years. However, some pharmacy schools also offer a three year curriculum’s. Now, let’s take a look at another important aspect you should know to become a pharmacist.
Pharmacist Degree Requirements
Pharmacy takes a pretty time to get an education and become eligible for licensure. But, all the time you spend working hard pays off when you get a high rewarding pharmacy job position. Students often get confused about the education requirements of pharmacy.
There are certain criteria you need to fulfill to become eligible for pharmacy education. As we have seen, pharmacy education is divided into two different sections of curriculum: undergraduate studies and Doctor of Pharmacy study. Here are the requirements you need to fulfill for the degree.
Requirements for Undergraduate Studies
The first step towards the pharmacy career is undergraduate studies. Students often have confusion regarding what requirements they need to fulfill to get into undergraduate studies of pharmacy. Basically, you do not need to pass any examination or test before entering into the undergraduate studies (pre-pharmacy studies). To get admission for post-graduation studies, you will need at least a 2-year degree. And, the 2-year degree you will complete must cover related topics such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Anatomy.
For Doctor of Pharmacy Degree
Once you complete a 2-year undergraduate study in pharmacy, you will need to take the PCAT examination. PCAT is the short-form of the Pharmacy College Admission Test. It is an exam conducted for use by colleges for admission purposes. PCAT examination helps colleges to identify qualified candidates. The exam tests basic academic ability and scientific knowledge required for the commencement of pharmacy education. PCAT exam also measures verbal ability, writing ability, reading comprehension, quantitative ability, biology, chemistry, etc. The Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (PharmD) is generally of four years. Some colleges also have 3 year PharmD programs.
After the completion of PharmD, you are not a licensed pharmacist yet. To become a licensed pharmacist, you need to pass licensure examinations. After passing the licensure exams, you will get your state license to become a pharmacist. The state pharmacy exam after pharmacy school includes NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination) and MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination).
Subjects Involved in Pharmacy
Pharmacy is the broad field in which it involves numerous tasks on the part of the pharmacist. A pharmacist conducts various tasks like dispensing prescriptions, checking for drug interactions, advising patients, etc. With the existence of so many responsibilities, the pharmacist must have knowledge of various subjects. There are various types of classes you will see while doing the course. Here are different subjects involved in the pharmacy:
Science is the most important part of the whole pharmacy course. You will learn theoretical and applied science in both undergraduate and postgraduation. In the prepharmacy classes, it covers general chemistry, introductory biology, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics.
During pharmacy school, you will keep learning about chemical, its physical properties, and the formulation of prescription drugs. It also includes weighing, handling, analyzing, and storing chemicals.
You might be considering math as ‘not so useful’ subject for your pharmacy career, but it is. You need to learn advanced math so that you can properly determine the correct formulation of prescriptions and also supervise the proper dosage depending upon the patient’s weight and age.
During pharmacy, you have to also deal with mathematical formulas and calculations. While you apply for pharmacy school after your undergraduate studies, some schools may have certain mathematical requirements for admission. Hence, you need to build your maths proficiency to pass the pharmacy course.
Apart from applied science and advanced mathematical proficiency, you also need to have great communication skills. For the improvement of communication skills, students take classes in English, Psychology, Sociology, etc. Communication is an important part because the pharmacist has to regularly deal with so many patients. The courses in communication are generally taken before pharmacy school.
Advice for High School Students Interested in Pharmacy
High school is the stage of your life in which you decide about your career path. While choosing a particular career path, you need to be very careful because your selected career path is going to be your life. If you are a high school student interested in pharmacy, here is some advice for you:
1. Keep an open mind
For an outsider, the pharmacy career option might seem very limited. But, in reality, there are so many specialties and opportunities out there for pharmacists. The pharmacy has a wide scope; with pharmacy, you can work at pharmaceutical companies, work at the FDA, and much more.
2. Take a look at other pharmacists
If you are interested in pharmacy, take a look at other pharmacists. This will give you an idea about what a pharmacist actually does and how pharmacy as a career looks like. It is a career in which you have to work in different areas like hospitals, community, ambulatory care, government, etc. Hence, seeing out the life of other pharmacists will give you an idea about how your career can be if you choose the pharmacy.
3. Explore different career options
You are interested in pharmacy, but you need to know what career option you like the most in pharmacy. There are numerous career options out there in pharmacy. It includes nuclear pharmacy, Nutrition Support Pharmacy, Poison Control, Oncology Pharmacy, Psychiatric Pharmacy, Forensic Pharmacy, Pharmaco Therapy, and many others.
4. Take advantage of your high school
High school is a great time to explore your academic and personal interests. If you are interested in the pharmacy field, you must know which career option you want to choose. As there are so many options in the pharmacy, you have to choose the career option that interests you.
5. Visit Pharmacy Schools
After you finally decide you want to take pharmacy as your career, start visiting pharmacy schools. You will spend your 4-6 years of education in the college you select hence make sure you select the pharmacy school that is right for you. You can get an idea about various schools by visiting them.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Pharmacist Technician?
Pharmacy technician is another career path for those who have an interest in pharmacy. Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists. The major duties and responsibilities of pharmacy technicians are related to handling aspects of the prescription fulfillment process and assisting the pharmacist with routine operations.
Pharmacy technician is a great career choice because it not just provides opportunities for helping others, but it also provides great pay, job security, and amazing opportunities. Apart from the great payout, job security, and great opportunities, the great thing about pharmacy technician job position is that it requires minimal formal education. It is not mandatory to have a pharmacy degree to become a pharmacy technician.
How long does it take?
To become a pharmacy technician, you need to undergo at least some formal education training. The great thing about becoming a pharmacy technician is you do not need to have a pharmacy degree. The time duration of pharmacy technician training can vary. You can complete a postsecondary education program. The program entails different areas like Pharmacy ethics, Pharmacy law, Pharmacology, Anatomy, Healthcare systems, Medical Terminology, Physiology, Pharmaceutical calculations, etc.
If you do your pharmacy technician in a traditional college, it will take around two years for the completion, of course. You can even pursue pharmacy training online. Online pharmacy training will reduce the time duration of getting the course complete.
After you complete the program, the step is to complete on-the-job training. Most of the programs allow students to gain clinical experience during training. You can also gain experience by completing on the job training at an approved medical center.
After the completion of a pharmacy technician program and gaining good experience, the next crucial thing is to get a certified pharmacy technician. Depending upon the criteria of a particular state, the requirement for becoming certified may differ. Some states require technicians to get certified. Mostly, employers prefer pharmacy technicians who are certified even in states where certification is not required.
Employers prefer hiring pharmacy technicians who are certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) or by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). PTCB and NHA, both require applicants to have a high school diploma. With PTCB, you will need to pass an exam; on the other hand, NHA requires students to complete a training program or have at least one year of experience working as a pharmacy technician. After you get your certification of becoming a pharmacy technician, you need to maintain it. Technicians are required to pass a re-certification exam every two years.
A pharmacist is a medical expert who has a thorough knowledge of medicines. There are various duties and responsibilities of a pharmacist. Pharmacy is not a job position where you can get without any degree or experience. To become a certified pharmacist, you need to go through formal education, get a degree, and get licensure.
The undergraduate pharmacy includes two years of studies, and the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) includes around 4 to 6 years. After you complete your undergraduate in pharmacy, you need to pass the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) examination. And, once you get admission to PharmD College and complete the PharmD education, you must pass the licensure exam to become a licensed pharmacist.
If you are interested in working in the pharmacy field but don’t have a pharma degree, you can become a pharmacy technician. However, the pharmacy technician job post does require some formal education. And it also requires having some training and getting the certification.