If you have a passion for helping others, as well as an interest in chemistry, physics, and the workings of the human body, then a career as a pharmacist is something to seriously consider.
What exactly does a pharmacist do on a daily basis?
They dispense medications as prescribed by medical practitioners, and explain how to use medications correctly, thereby helping people manage their illnesses or conditions. Pharmacists also advise doctors and other medical practitioners on the best drug selection, dosage, and interactions for their patients.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to become a pharmacist, this blog is for you.
What Are the Basic Degree Requirements?
So, you’ve graduated high school and you’re pondering what to do with the rest of your life. If you’re thinking about a career in pharmacy, what will you have to study now that high school is done?
In order to become a qualified and licensed pharmacist, it will take you an average of six to eight years.
It’s important to note that some pharmacy schools do accept students right out of high school. But most schools have a prerequisite of college credit before admission.
This means you’ll need to enroll at a college and complete two-years of pre-professional college study before you enroll with an accredited pharmacy college.
Once you have completed your first two years of undergraduate study, you can then enroll with a college registered under the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
From there, you’ll then go on to study for a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree, also known as a PharmD. This degree usually takes four years to complete.
Earning Your Doctor of Pharmacy Degree
Your first two years of college life are necessary to prepare you for the intricacies of earning your Doctor of Pharmacy Degree. During your first two years of undergraduate study, you will generally cover the following subjects:
- Organic chemistry
- History and English
But before you take on your classes, make sure to double-check what your chosen PharmD school requires first.
You can do this by researching the Pharmacy College Application Service, also called PharmCAS, which lists all required classes for different PharmD schools.
The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
Before you enroll with a PharmD school after your undergrad studies are complete, you’ll have to take the pharmacy school entrance exam, also called the PCAT. There are a number of online resources to help you prepare for this test for the best possible chance.
A PharmD program may also look at your college GPAs when deciding on whether to accept your application. Once you’ve been accepted into your chosen PharmD school, some of the subjects you’ll cover include:
- Medical ethics
- Pharmacy law
- Health management
During these years of study, you’ll also get the chance to intern in various pharmacy settings, including community and hospital pharmacies. This is the best way to gain hands-on, industry experience.
These years of study will also be your most challenging to prepare you for your pharmacist licensing exams.
This is the final step on your journey to becoming a licensed pharmacist who can practice in the ”real world.” All states across the U.S. require pharmacists to be licensed, while most licenses can be transferred between states.
In order to earn your license, you must complete an internship and pass two important exams. These are the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam and the Multi-state Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam. You’ll need these credentials from your state licensing board.
Want to Become a Pharmacist?
If you want to become a pharmacist, but you’re not quite sure where to begin, Peterson’s can help you find your feet. We are a comprehensive online resource offering education, test prep, and career planning advice to help you build your dream career. Start your journey with Peterson’s PCAT test prep.