Geriatric Pharmacist - How to Become a Geriatric Pharmacist

Geriatric Pharmacist

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Geriatric Pharmacist Job Description

Geriatric pharmacists handle dispensing medicines to older patients and counseling these people on their use. Due to chronic health problems, older people often take multiple medicines simultaneously, for arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, pain, and other ailments caused by age, raising the hazard of drug interaction. Geriatric pharmacists need to exercise professionalism and detailed knowledge to avoid these interactions, since medication errors cause up to 100,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the U.S..




Geriatric pharmacists fill prescriptions by physicians, labeling and dispensing medicines. Also called consultant pharmacists, these specialists provide their older patients with detailed information on when to take medicines, blood sugar and blood pressure testing, recommendations for generic medicines, and information on possible side effects, among other tasks.

A geriatric pharmacist also changes dosages or suggests alternate medicines when side effects occur. They answer the questions older patients have about their medicines, and examine the full range of prescribed and over-the-counter medications these people are taking to avoid adverse reactions – one of their most important jobs. They also investigate claims of side effects and advise patients to keep taking their medicine if the problem is unlikely to come from the drug (such as sleepiness or insomnia).





Must effectively communicate with your co-workers to ensure the best care and the proper procedures. Must be able to communicate in high-stress environments.

Active Listening

Offering your full attention to an individual person or group in order to fully understand problems and their nature.

Critical Thinking

Must use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Judgment and Decision Making

Needs to be able to act autonomously and make difficult decisions that would benefit the patient or make corrections. Must consider all benefits and repercussions of potential actions and choose the appropriate one. 

Complex Problem Solving

Must be able to identify complex problems and develop and evaluate corrective options and implement solutions. 

Stress Management

Must be able to endure intense situations and handle pressure that comes with extreme situations you may encounter.


Must be trustworthy because you have people's lives in your hands and what you do could help or hurt them. They are entrusted with a great responsibility and must live up to it. 


Gauging how people react and read their body language to decipher their feelings and predict their actions. They must be able to determine if people could be a risk to themselves or others and to distinguish truths from lies.


Working Conditions


Geriatric pharmacists work in various health care facilities, ranging from hospitals to assisted living centers and long-term care locations. Some even work at housing communities with a high percentage of elderly residents. Depending on where they work, these pharmacists typically have a regular work schedule, but may be called on sometimes to work on weekends, holidays, or after hours like other medical personnel.

Other geriatric pharmacists find employment in a pharmacy setting, either inside a larger medical facility or in a separate retail pharmacy location. Consulting with patients, reading medical charts, and discussing cases with doctors remain among their duties regardless of the exact location they work at.



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:



 Section Breakdown


  • 1 prompt

  • 30 minutes

  • Content: Health Issues, Science Issues, Social, Political, or Cultural issues

Verbal Ability

  • 40 multiple-choice questions

  • 25 minutes

  • Tests Parts of Speech, Sentence Structure, Associations, Analogies, Classifications


  • 48 multiple-choice questions

  • 35 minutes

  • Tests General Biology, Microbiology, Human Anatomy and Physiology 


  • 48 multiple-choice questions

  • 35 minutes

  • Tests General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Basic Biochemistry Processes



 Reading Comprehension



  • 48 multiple-choice questions

  • 50 minutes

  • Tests Comprehension, Analysis, and Evaluation



Quantitative Ability



  • 48 multiple-choice questions

  • 45 minutes

  • Tests Basic Math, Algebra, and Reasoning and Statistics 


Explore PCAT Resources


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:

  • Fundamentals

  • Reading and using dosage forms

  • Pharmacy law and ethics

  • Patient counseling

  • Working with physicians

  • Diagnostics

  • 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)

  • Pharmacotherapy

  • Biostatistics

  • 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).


Learn More About Becoming Board Certified



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