Pharmacist - How to Become a Pharmacist

Pharmacist

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Pharmacist Job Description

 

In recent years, pharmacist has consistently been ranked high on the list of best jobs in the United States. Pharmacists are responsible for dispensing medications as prescribed by physicians and other health practitioners. Pharmacists assist with monitoring patient health by advising physicians and other health care providers on the selection, interactions, recommended uses, suggested dosages and potential side effects of medications.

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Responsibilities

 

A pharmacist is expected to understand the use of drugs, the clinical effects that can be expected and the composition of medications. Pharmacists’ knowledge extends to the chemical, biological and physical properties of medications. In short, pharmacists are the medication experts of the medical field. They are charged with protecting the public by ensuring drug purity and potency.

Pharmacy care has as its goal the maximization of positive health care outcomes and the improvement of the quality of life of their patients while maintaining risk at a minimum level. Most pharmacists are found working in a community setting, such as retail drug stores or in hospitals and clinics.

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Skills

 

Memorization

You must know, and be able to recall, information hundreds of drugs and their uses. You must remember what side effects certain drugs have and possible interactions. You must be able to recall everything you learned in school and keep current on relevant Pharmacy topics and new drugs.

Attention to Detail

You must pay attention. If you get a prescription wrong, you could kill somebody. It's important that you strive for perfection and are methodical about your practices.

Math & Science

This should be understood, because you have to make it through many hours of advanced math and science classes before you can even dream of being a pharmacist. You must use your knowledge to calculate doses and know interactions.

Drug Preparation

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. 

Drug Knowledge

Knowledge of a variety of drugs, how they work, what they interact with, their side effects, their generic names, how they are taken, their alternatives, and allergic reactions to them. 

Perception

Know why people act the way they do and be able to distinguish red-flag behavior.

Interpersonal

You have to deal with people everyday, so you need to know how to interact with and communicate to them. You will also, more than likely, be over a team, so you need to know how to properly manage and interact with employees and maintain a good rapport.

Teaching

It's good to know how to pass on knowledge and teach those under you so that prescriptions go out safely and your employees are knowledgeable and intelligent. It's always good to be able to teach a beneficial skill to those who strive to know it.

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Working Conditions

 

The common locations in which pharmacists work are usually clean, well-lit and well-ventilated areas. The nature of the work requires the pharmacist to spend most of the day on their feet. Pharmacists must sometimes wear gloves, masks and other special protective equipment when working with a sterile or potentially hazardous pharmaceutical product.

Community and hospital pharmacies may be open for extended hours, or even around the clock. This means pharmacists may be required to work evenings, nights, and weekends and holidays. Pharmacist consultants that travel to nursing homes or other facilities to monitor drug therapy for a population of patients may be required to spend travel time away from home.

On average, a full-time, salaried pharmacist usually works about 43 hours a week. Some work as many as 50 hours a week, especially if they are self-employed pharmacists. Part-time employment is also attractive to about one out of five pharmacists.

 


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How to Become a Pharmacist:

 

Becoming a pharmacist can be a long road. You can fast-track it, and get done in as little as 6 years, but if you go the long way, it can take you 13 years. Whatever route you choose, you must take courses heavy in laboratory sciences and math. 

 

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree or Pre-Professional Degree (4 Years)

 

You must major in a field similar to that of pre-med or biology. Some schools offer a Pre-Pharmacy Program that will ready you for the Pharm.D program. You will be inundated with courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and other sciences to give you all the pre-requisites you need for the Pharm.D program. 

 

You can go one of two ways to get into a Pharm.D program: 

a. You can go the two-year non-degree, laboratory science prep route which allows you to fill your Pharm.D pre-reqs within a short time period. The program is heavily scheduled with lab sciences and lab prep courses with some general education classes thrown in. The non-degree route also facilitates Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) prep, so you can take the test and move into the Pharm.D program. 

b. A Bachelor’s Degree in a laboratory science. You must major in a field similar to that of pre-med or biology. Some schools offer a Pre-Pharmacy Program that will ready you for the Pharm.D program. You will be inundated with courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and other sciences to give you all the pre-requisites you need for the Pharm.D program. If you go this route, you have more flexibility upon graduation if you want to explore other career options. This path also allows you more time to study for the PCAT. 

 

Pharm.D pre-requisites include the following:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biochemistry for Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Fundamentals of Biology
  • General Physics
  • Immunology
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Pharmacy Orientation

 

A typical pre-pharmacy degree course load could look like the following:

 

Freshman Year
  • General Biology I & Lab
  • General Biology II & Lab
  • General Chemistry I & Lab
  • General Chemistry II & Lab
  • Calculus I
  • Calculus II
  • Electives
Sophomore Year
  • Organic Chemistry I & Lab
  • Organic Chemistry II & Lab
  • Social Sciences Requirements
  • Electives & Courses to Satisfy Your Major
  • Begin PCAT Studies

Junior Year

  • Physics I & Lab
  • Physics II & Lab
  • Electives & Courses to Satisfy Your Major
  • Register for the PCAT
Senior Year
  • Complete Required Graduation Coursework
  • Prepare for Interviews 
  • Search for Scholarships, Loans, Grants and Other Funding Options

 

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education 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.

 

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/Category  Section Breakdown
Writing
  • 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

Biology

  • 48 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes
  • Tests General Biology, Microbiology, Human Anatomy and Physiology 
Chemistry
  • 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 

 

Get all your PCAT Resources Here.  

 

3. Earn a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (4 Years)

 

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education 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 should be spent deciding on a specialty of study and honing in on your strengths. You should also begin thinking about where you want to work and next steps.

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. Earn the Required License

 

After all the schooling, you still need to get your license to be able to practice. The main test you need to take is the North American Pharmacist Licensing Exam (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. Consider Earning a Master's or Doctoral Degree

 

If you want to do lab research or teaching, you can continue your education and complete a Master of Science or Ph.D. program. This will enable you to build careers teaching or involved in policy making or researching for drug companies or for academic studies. 

 

6. Consider a Residency or Fellowship Program

 

If you want to specialize in a certain field of Pharmacy or what to advance your training, you can complete a one or two year residency or fellowship program. Residencies are available in post-grad training programs and they are designed to prepare you for lab research. They are good to do if you choose the Masters or Ph.D. path and want to work in research or academics. 

 

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Salary Outlook

Title Company Location Posted
12.09.2016
Bachelor's of Science The Pharmacist is responsible for evaluating and processing medication orders; compounding and dispensing medication; and reviewing, evaluating, recommending and managing drug therapy. EDUCATION REQUIRED: Graduate from...
12.05.2016
Bachelor's of Science The Pharmacist is responsible for evaluating and processing medication orders; compounding and dispensing medication; and reviewing, evaluating, recommending and managing drug therapy. EDUCATION REQUIRED: Graduate from...
12.05.2016
The Pharmacy Vision is to deliver optimal medication management across all dimensions of care, every time, and that each Pharmacy team member understands how he or she contributes to the health systems vision of achieving that commitment to...
12.05.2016
Position Summary: Responsible for the filling and dispensing of medication orders including the proper handling, usage, and storage of drugs in the pharmacy. Maintains standards set by the department and translates policies and procedures into...
12.07.2016
This position is for Kaiser Community Pharmacy, now a member of the Fisher-Titus Health system! Position Summary: Responsible for the filling and dispensing of medication orders including the proper handling, usage, and storage of drugs in the...
12.05.2016
Prepares, dispenses and monitors medications, and IV admixtures to meet patient, employee and public pharmaceutical needs. Researches drug information questions and determines pharmacokinetic parameters for appropriate dosing. Ensures the...
12.05.2016
The Pharmacist reviews and accurately interprets physicians orders checking for appropriateness of orders as to indication, clarity, accuracy of dose, drug allergy, potential drug interactions and duplication (two or more drugs with the same...
12.05.2016
Bachelors Degree Are you available to work flexible hours? Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Parkview Health is looking for an Anticoagulation Management Department Lead Pharmacist to join their pharmacy team. This...
12.09.2016
The Staff Pharmacist is responsible for the interpretation, clarification, transcription, compounding and dispensing of physician's medication orders. As an integral member of the medical team, the pharmacist provides drug information, drug...
12.05.2016
The Pharmacist Staff provides safe and effective medication therapy for optimal patient outcomes and ensures completion and documentation of all work including that of technicians. This position requires population specific competencies. Adheres...
12.05.2016
SUMMARY: Assists in ensuring the safety, efficacy, and appropriateness of medications throughout the medical center. To maintain the pharmacy module of the electronic medical record and provide clinical support as appropriate to...
12.05.2016
Bachelors Degree Are you available to work flexible hours? Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Clinical Pharmacist Specialist in Oncology Parkview Regional Medical Center (PRMC) is accepting applications for a...
12.05.2016
Bachelor's Degree To provide pharmaceutical care to customers of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE: 1. Doctor of Pharmacy or Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. Residency preferred....
12.05.2016
Bachelors Degree Are you available to work flexible hours? Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Want to put some excitement in your career? Take a look at Parkview. Parkview Health is a not-for-profit,...
12.05.2016
This is a PRN, non-benefited, non-exempt position. Under the direction of the Pharmacy Director, performs clinical and professional pharmaceutical work in the compounding and dispensing of drugs and IV supplies. Qualifications: Minimum...
  1. PHARMACIST Lynchburg, VA Centra Health
    Bachelor's of Science The Pharmacist is responsible for evaluating and processing medication orders; compounding and dispensing medication; and reviewing, evaluating, recommending and managing drug therapy. EDUCATION REQUIRED: Graduate from...
  2. PHARMACIST Lynchburg, VA Centra Health
    Bachelor's of Science The Pharmacist is responsible for evaluating and processing medication orders; compounding and dispensing medication; and reviewing, evaluating, recommending and managing drug therapy. EDUCATION REQUIRED: Graduate from...
  3. Pharmacist Winston-Salem, NC Novant Health
    The Pharmacy Vision is to deliver optimal medication management across all dimensions of care, every time, and that each Pharmacy team member understands how he or she contributes to the health systems vision of achieving that commitment to...
  4. Pharmacist Norwalk, OH Fisher-Titus Medical Center
    Position Summary: Responsible for the filling and dispensing of medication orders including the proper handling, usage, and storage of drugs in the pharmacy. Maintains standards set by the department and translates policies and procedures into...
  5. Pharmacist Norwalk, OH Fisher-Titus Medical Center
    This position is for Kaiser Community Pharmacy, now a member of the Fisher-Titus Health system! Position Summary: Responsible for the filling and dispensing of medication orders including the proper handling, usage, and storage of drugs in the...
  6. Pharmacist Anderson, SC AnMed Health
    Prepares, dispenses and monitors medications, and IV admixtures to meet patient, employee and public pharmaceutical needs. Researches drug information questions and determines pharmacokinetic parameters for appropriate dosing. Ensures the...
  7. Pharmacist Melrose, MA Melrose-Wakefield Hospital
    The Pharmacist reviews and accurately interprets physicians orders checking for appropriateness of orders as to indication, clarity, accuracy of dose, drug allergy, potential drug interactions and duplication (two or more drugs with the same...
  8. Pharmacist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    Bachelors Degree Are you available to work flexible hours? Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Parkview Health is looking for an Anticoagulation Management Department Lead Pharmacist to join their pharmacy team. This...
  9. Pharmacist Slidell, LA Slidell Memorial Hospital
    The Staff Pharmacist is responsible for the interpretation, clarification, transcription, compounding and dispensing of physician's medication orders. As an integral member of the medical team, the pharmacist provides drug information, drug...
  10. Pharmacist Oklahoma City, OK INTEGRIS Health
    The Pharmacist Staff provides safe and effective medication therapy for optimal patient outcomes and ensures completion and documentation of all work including that of technicians. This position requires population specific competencies. Adheres...
  11. Pharmacist Marshall, MN Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center
    SUMMARY: Assists in ensuring the safety, efficacy, and appropriateness of medications throughout the medical center. To maintain the pharmacy module of the electronic medical record and provide clinical support as appropriate to...
  12. Pharmacist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    Bachelors Degree Are you available to work flexible hours? Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Clinical Pharmacist Specialist in Oncology Parkview Regional Medical Center (PRMC) is accepting applications for a...
  13. Pharmacist Boise, ID Saint Alphonsus Health System
    Bachelor's Degree To provide pharmaceutical care to customers of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE: 1. Doctor of Pharmacy or Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy. Residency preferred....
  14. Pharmacist Fort Wayne, IN Parkview Health
    Bachelors Degree Are you available to work flexible hours? Are you interested in positions located in Fort Wayne, IN? Want to put some excitement in your career? Take a look at Parkview. Parkview Health is a not-for-profit,...
  15. Pharmacist Moscow, ID Gritman Medical Center
    This is a PRN, non-benefited, non-exempt position. Under the direction of the Pharmacy Director, performs clinical and professional pharmaceutical work in the compounding and dispensing of drugs and IV supplies. Qualifications: Minimum...