How to Become a Geriatric Pharmacist
1. Complete Two Years of Lab Prep Courses or Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)
Students looking to pursue a Pharm.D program may choose to either:
a.) Complete two years of non-degree laboratory science courses, providing them with a solid foundation in the natural sciences for success in a Pharm.D program, but also limiting the student's options.
b.) Earn a bachelor's degree in a laboratory science field. This option provides students with more time to study for the PCAT as well as opening other career options if they change their mind about pursuing a Pharm.D program.
Geriatric pharmacists require the same degree as other pharmacists, including two years of general education followed by four years of specialized learning. This earns a 6-year pharmacy degree.
2. Take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
You must take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) to get into pharmacy school. The PCAT tests your academic ability and knowledge.
The test consists of 232 multiple-choice questions and one writing topic. You have about 4 hours to complete the test, including break and instructional time.
The test is broken down into the following:
3. Earn a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (4 Years)
The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) recognized 129 colleges and Schools of Pharmacy in 2013. Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degrees are granted by these pharmacy programs.
Typically, a six-year schedule of post-secondary study is required for graduation. This is followed by successful completion of a state board of pharmacy licensure examination in order to practice as a pharmacist.
The Pharm.D. program is a four-year program of coursework that requires at least two years of college study before being admitted.
Most students enter pharmacy programs after three or more years of college. The Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm.) degree was replaced by the Pharm.D. degree.
A searchable database of pharmacy programs is available through the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. The Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) also makes it easy to make multiple applications to pharmacy programs with a single application.
The first year of Pharmacy School focuses on the following:
- Reading and using dosage forms
- Pharmacy laws and ethics
- Patient counseling
- Working with physicians
- Pharmacy calculations
- Pathophysiology and drug action
Second and third year courses focus on advancing the principles you learned in your first year. It also introduces you to:
- Institutional pharmacy (IPPE)
- Health Management
During this time, you also get your first taste of clinical rotations. These years are where students begin their specialty training in geriatrics and begin fielding potential employers.
During your last year, you will focus on practical experience where you perform clinical rotations and interact with patients, recommend medications, and learn how to fall into an administrative role in your community. You typically complete seven to ten rotations, that can each last up to 6 weeks.
4. Take the North American Pharmacist Licensing Examination (NAPLEX)
After all the schooling, you still need to get your license to be able to practice. The necessary exam is the North American Pharmacist Licensing Examination (NAPLEX). The NAPLEX consists of 185 questions that tests your knowledge of pharmacy practices.
The NAPLEX tests these key things:
- Identify standards of effective and safe pharmacotherapy
- Optimize medicinal and therapeutic outcomes for patients
- Prepare and distribute medications safely and accurately
- Educate patients on optimal health care
After you pass the NAPLEX, you are a licensed pharmacist and can practice, but in most states, you need to pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE), also. It's a two-hour test with 90 questions to gauge your knowledge of Pharmacy Law.
5. Earn the Required Certification
In order to officially earn the designation "Certified Geriatric Pharmacist," pharmacists must meet the criteria set forth by the Commission for Certification in Geriatric Pharmacy (CCGP).