If you have a passion for working in the healthcare sector and helping people stay healthy; a job as a pharmacist may be a good fit for you. A pharmacist is a licensed, specially trained part of a healthcare team and works in conjunction with doctors and other medical professionals with expertise in dispensing and managing over the counter and prescription medications for their clients.
In addition to your doctor’s knowledge of various illness and related medications to manage your health, a pharmacist possesses a comprehensive knowledge of the vast array of prescription drugs, appropriate usages, dosages and their interactions.
Pharmacy jobs can take place in a variety of healthcare settings including hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centres, institutions, government and public health agencies or your neighbourhood pharmacy. Pharmaceutical and research companies also employ pharmacists to develop and study medications to treat diseases or improve upon existing drugs and their applications.
If you are considering becoming a pharmacist, your academic studies will be lengthy. Your high school courses should be heavy on the math and sciences including biology, chemistry, physiology and physics. You will be required to complete a 2-3 undergraduate degree or Bachelor of Science (BS) with courses in biology, anatomy, chemistry, calculus and more in order to enter into a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) designation. You may also have to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) to enter into a pharmacy program or school. The 4-6 year PharmD program must be completed at a school that has received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Your advanced studies will include courses in pharmacology and medical ethics plus hands on work in a research lab and within a pharmacy setting.
Once you have graduated with a PharmD degree, you are required to apply for your license in order to gain employment with a pharmaceutical employer. In order to apply for your licensure, you must complete and pass the North American North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). Certain states require additional licensing such as the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). Additionally, you will be required to complete a practicum of a pre-determined length.
During your post-secondary education, you will have the opportunity to gain some experience through your program’s practicum, however you can expand on your experience by seeking out pharmacy jobs or internships within the medical community. RPh on the Go is a great resource to find the latest pharmacy jobs across the United States. You can also ask your program director or the career service in your school for help locating available opportunities with a licensed pharmacy or pharmaceutical company.
Skills to Become a Pharmacist
In addition to your academic studies and a superior knowledge of OTC and prescribed medications, a successful pharmacist should possess exceptional people skills to help service clients and patients with varying illnesses from the common cold to more complex medical conditions. You will require excellent listening and communication skills because a large part of your job will be interacting with clients and other medical personnel.
You can expect to encounter many pharmacy jobs that require a flexible schedule to accommodate the varied work hours that normally are required for work in the field.
Keep in mind, to maintain a career in the pharmaceutical industry, you will be required to stay up to date on the latest development in the sector and partake in lifelong learning as required by the regulatory body of pharmaceutical professionals.
Author Bio: John Hallinston is a recruitment specialist and career development blogger. Check out his latest post on the different type of medical careers.