How much Education does a Pharmacist need? -The profession of pharmacy is a very competitive and lucrative one. In fact, in the United States, it has been projected that the demand for pharmacists in different healthcare facilities will continually increase as the years roll by. This is because of the increase in complexity of medication therapy, right selection of drug and dosing, monitoring and general management of the process of taking medications. This article has been put together to give you every vital information you will need to pursue a career in pharmacy. You will be getting to discovering how much education a pharmacist will need to flourish in the pharmacy world. At the end of the article are some frequently asked questions(FAQs) about pharmacy.
How much Education does a Pharmacist need?
Pharmacy is a science and art that is focused on the preparation, standardization and dispensing of drugs. A pharmacy needs different kinds of professionals to work and serve its clients. There are three types of pharmacy career and each one has its specific duties and also peculiar level of education and training.
Pharmacy Assistant: This requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Some of the roles of a pharmacy assistant include: keeping stock of merchandise and supplies, working cash registers, managing and tracking medication deliveries.
Pharmacy Technician: Pharmacy Technicians work as assistants to pharmacists. They are usually required to obtain this certification: Certified Pharmacy Technician. They also complete a formal education that ends in a certificate or associate’s degree. They can also pursue specialty training certifications in areas like IV medications, etc. Some of the roles include: collection of patients’ information for refills, measuring the right quantity of medications, packaging and labelling of prescriptions, processing insurance claims and tracking inventories.
Pharmacists: To work as a pharmacist requires a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Pharmacist hold the most important role in a pharmacy. Some of their responsibilities include cross-checking the prescriptions filled by pharmacy technician for accuracy; patient education on how to use their medications; conducting medical screenings like blood sugar/cholesterol level; giving vaccinations, etc.
How much Education is needed by a Pharmacist?
A pharmacist must have completed a doctor of pharmacy(PharmD) degree which is usually a four-year program at a pharmacy school.
After completion of PharmD, you can decide to specialize in any of the following areas; critical care, nuclear, compounding, pediatrics, oncology, infectious disease and academic pharmacy.
A large number of schools offer dual degrees so that students can complete a PharmD degree alongside an MBA, MPH, PhD.
Pharmacy School Requirements
Before a student can be admitted into the pharmacy school, he/she must have completed some undergraduate coursework like biology, microbiology, physics, statistics, maths and chemistry. In other words, you need to get a bachelor degree in majors like biology, medicinal chemistry.
Then you will be required to write a Pharmacy College Admission Test(PCAT) and then you can apply to a pharmacy school.
But in some schools, after a student must have completed about 2-3 years coursework in related fields like biology, medicinal chemistry, he/she can cross-over into pharmacy school.
While in some cases, the pharmacy school admit fresh students from high school to study pharmacy, but for a longer duration of six years.
What happens in Pharmacy School?
You can apply to a pharmacy school of your choice to earn a doctoral degree (PharmD). In applying to a pharmacy school, the following subjects are always required; Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths and Statistics, English/communications and Economics.
Some of the courses you will be taking in the pharmacy school include: biochemistry, pharmacology, healthcare management, chemotherapy, pharmaceutical measurements, biostatistics and pathology.
What next after Pharmacy School?
On completion of your program at the pharmacy school, you will be required to complete an internship/residency program in a pharmacy practice setting where some experiential learning will take place.
Then you will be required to write two licensure exams and also you will need to satisfy the prerequisites for a pharmacist in the state you want to practice.
While practicing as a pharmacist, you will be required to be actively involved in continuous pharmacy education and other related professional development programs as part of your licensure.
Where can I work as a Pharmacist?
Working as a pharmacist goes beyond just sitting in one corner in a pharmacy shop and dispensing drugs, there is a whole lot of interesting things you can get to do with your Pharm degree. Listed below are nine (9) exciting career opportunities for a pharmacist:
- Hospital Pharmacist: Here, you will be working in a hospital alongside doctors and nurses. Pharmacists in hospitals are responsible for dispensing prescriptions, advising doctors and nurses on the choice of drugs, dosage and mode of administration. They are also involved in purchasing and quality testing of drugs used in the hospital.
- Community Pharmacist: Community pharmacist work in pharmacy shops in the community. A community pharmacist must be well-knowledgeable in all the drugs listed in the pharmacy. He/she must know how it works, right dosing and also the side effects of the drugs. Excellent communication skill is required as you will be relating with different categories of people and educating them on how to take their medications.
- Researcher/Academic: This career path is for the academically-inclined people. You can pursue research in pharmacy practice, pharmacotherapy, clinical sciences, public health, drug discovery, etc.
- Locum Pharmacist: As a locum pharmacist, you have similar roles as a regular pharmacist. The major difference is that a locum pharmacist is not tied to a particular location unlike a regular pharmacist. A locum pharmacist is on contract and can get to work in two or more pharmacies at a time. So, as locum pharmacist, you are a free-lancer and one that earns heavily too.
- Pharmaceutical Industry/Clinical trials: Pharmacists here work in industries to support the management and delivery of clinical trials of new medicines. They carry out studies on the drugs, ensure that the drugs used in trials are imported, properly stored, compounded, dispensed and used properly in accordance to strict pharmaceutical protocols.
- Government and NGOs: A pharmacist can work in a government establishment and also NGOs serving as advisory personnel, public health management, etc.
- Military Pharmacist: These pharmacists work with the Department of National Defense. They can be posted with other health personnel to work on board navy ships or deployed to their units in Remote areas.
- Pain Educator: Pharmacists work with people suffering pain, helping them manage their medications and coordinating the different treatment being received.
- Drug Safety Officer: They do the work of pharmacovigilance. They monitor and report the effectiveness and adverse effects of pharmaceutical products in the market, hospitals and research trials.
What are the roles of a pharmacist?
A pharmacist is usually the last personnel a patient interacts with before starting a medication prescribed by the doctor. Pharmacists have been so trained to have a wide knowledge about drugs, how they work in the body, precautions to take and various regulations guiding the use of those drugs. They also have good communication skills and can relate well with the patient on how to use the prescribed drugs. Some of the roles of pharmacists include:
- Pharmacists are involved in administration of vaccines
- They educate clients on proper administration of their medications
- They oversee the activities of pharmacy technicians and other staffs in the pharmacy
- They carry out medical screening on clients e.g. blood sugar /cholesterol level
- They work with health insurance companies to help clients get their medications
- They ensure clients don’t have allergies that can jeopardize their health.
Pharmacists are really in high demand in Africa and globally. If you are thinking of studying pharmacy, it’s really a good one because there are lots of career opportunities in the field of pharmacy. As a trained and certified pharmacist, you can apply the education you have acquired to function in other professions like toxicology, research, pharmacology, etc.
But the first and most important is to know how much education a pharmacist need, then you can now proceed from there.
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Is pharmacy a good course?
Yes. It is a good course to study in Nigeria or abroad. This is because there are lots of career opportunities in the field of pharmacy. Pharmacist earn good salaries and also have flexible working hours. In addition, pharmacists are seen and respected in the society just like medical doctors.
Where is the highest demand for pharmacists?
The demand for pharmacists is highest in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
Is studying pharmacy hard?
I will not say Pharmacy is hard or easy. But it is a course that requires a lot of effort, hard work and determination from you as a student. Pharmacy is not for lazy students.
What are the core courses in Pharmacy?
Pharmaceutics, Pharmaceutical Technology and Pharmaceutical Microbiology
Clinical Pharmacy and Bio pharmacy
Pharmacy Practice and Management
How do you stay updated as a pharmacist?
One of the most effective way of staying updated as a pharmacist is by attending conferences. At such conferences, you will get to meet top professionals in the industry, establish relationship with them and catch up with trends in the industry.
What are the 7 critical skills needed in the pharmacy profession?
Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
Attention to details
Strong Analytical skills
Mathematical and science skills