How to become a pharmacist in 2023

If being a pharmacist is your dream profession, here’s everything you need to know on how to become a pharmacist in 2023. 

How to become a pharmacist in 2021
How to become a pharmacist in 2023

Whether you’re working at a local pharmacy, at a hospital, or administering vaccination to the public, the demand for pharmacists is high and the pay is great.

In this simple, easy-to-digest post, you’ll learn:

  • Who is a pharmacist?
  • What do Pharmacists do?
  • Why study for a pharmacy degree?
  • How to become a pharmacist in 2023?
  • How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist?
  • Pharmacist Careers
  • How Much Do Pharmacists Make?
  • And lot’s more

Let’s get started.

Who is a Pharmacist?

A Pharmacist is a healthcare professional who specializes in using, storing, preserving, and dispensing medicine in the right way. With their extensive knowledge of prescription medicines, they can prescribe medication to patients, and counsel the patient on how to use the medications. In large hospitals, fill and dispense prescriptions issued by doctors to patients.

What do Pharmacists do?

Pharmacists ensure that individuals receive proper drug and treatments for health issues. They work in tandem with doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and the public, and they get the big responsibility of ensuring safe pharmacological practices. 

Before that responsibility, pharmacists go through years of education to ensure they’ve gained the necessary knowledge and skills to work in the field. Whether you’re coming straight from high school or already holding a postsecondary degree, there are lots of paths available to aspiring pharmacists who are ready to work hard, complete thousands of clinical hours, and pass a series of examinations.

Why study for a Pharmacy Degree?

1. Treat and Prevent Diseases

If you have a desire to help people through your work, then you need to study pharmacy. A pharmacist is the first stronghold in the prevention and treatment of disease in society. 

Pharmacy is a universal profession, and the skills developed during a pharmacy degree can be used anywhere in the world.

2. Gain Patient-centered Responsibilities

As a pharmacist, another benefit you get is that you are likely to be the first person a patient will see for information on their illness. If a patient’s symptoms are not severe, Pharmacists are usually recommended to provide medical advice. Therefore, they can know a patient’s needs and address them properly.

3. Scientific Research and Development Opportunities

Scientific research and development opportunities in the workplace can further expand a pharmacist’s career options and introduce them to various roles to choose from

Additionally, research institutions and universities directly recruit pharmacy graduates who want to work for them. 

4. Develop Advanced Knowledge and Skills

Pharmacist is constantly learning and improving their understanding of medicine and how to treat illnesses. knowledge of the law and ethical concerns relating to the supply of medicines, effective & professional communication, the operation of pharmaceutical instrumentation, and additional specialist skills you will gain. 

5. Job Stability

Pharmacy graduates benefit from job security, as there is a high demand for them. Their pharmacy degree skills are quite specialized. In 2019, 98% of pharmacy students were employed within six months of graduating with their degree.

6. Flexible Career Options

Pharmacy graduates can be eligible for a variety of job roles that often offer good professional progression. Those who don’t want to go into pharmacy can use their knowledge of medicine to become medical science liaisons, pharmacologists, research scientists, or toxicologists, among other professions.

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7. Access to different industries

A degree in pharmacy opens up doors to different other job roles. This means that there are fields a pharmacist can enter with a degree in pharmacy. 

Though many graduates become health professionals, others go into sales and financial roles, business, or find work in the childcare, health, and education industries.

8. Long-term career prospects for pharmacists

A pharmacist degree can open many doors for future career paths such as being employed by retail chain pharmacies, working in the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals, and government agencies.

Pharmacists looking to enhance their knowledge and skills can pursue a graduate degree, such as a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences, an MBA, or complete certificate training programs such as the American Pharmacists Association, or even complete a degree in public health. 

The Board of Pharmacy Specialties certified pharmacists in various areas of expertise like pharmacy, oncology, nutrition support pharmacy, pediatric pharmacy, or psychiatric pharmacy.

Finally, pharmacists can further their education, go into research, open their pharmacies, or advance into administrative roles at hospitals and other organizations with their education and experience. 

How to become a pharmacist in 2023

Below are 5 straight forward steps on how to become a pharmacist in 2023:

1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree or Complete a Pre-Pharmacy Program

A Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree is compulsory to become a licensed pharmacist. Before you can get into a Pharm.D. program, you will have to go through a 2-year pre-pharmacy program or a 4-year bachelor’s degree program in pharmacy science. This may not always be the case as some schools prefer their applicants to have a bachelor’s degree instead. 

Topics commonly covered in these classes are anatomy, biology, physiology, and chemistry. At the same time, a Bachelor’s program will cover topics in biochemistry, pharmacology, and pharmaceutics.

2. Obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree

In the first year of your 4-year pre-pharmacy or bachelor’s program, you’ll be focusing on natural sciences – chemical, biological, and physical – as they relate to pharmaceutical science. 

Depending on the program, the curriculum will now focus on the clinical aspect. Courses will be on pathology, pharmacokinetics, and therapeutics. During your fourth year as a pharmacist, you’ll gain practical experience in patient-care settings. 

3. Get a Pharmacist License

To be able to practice as a pharmacist in any country such as the U.S or UK, you must have a license. In the US, after getting your Pharm.D, you’ll need to write and pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). A 185-question, computer-based exam, and is used by all states to test a pharmacist’s knowledge of pharmacology and ability to evaluate health information, produce and supply medications, and measure therapeutic outcomes.

In other US states, the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) is required. It consists of 90 multiple-choice questions that evaluate their knowledge of the state’s pharmaceutical laws. The NAPLEX and the MPJE exams are administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (www.nabp.net). Depending on what your state determines, you may need to take additional exams.

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4. Consider Postgraduate Training

After completing a Pharm.D. program, it will be worth going for additional training through fellowships or pharmacy residencies. A 1-2 year post-graduate program can help you improve your career. For example, if you want to work in a clinical setting or a hospital, you’ll want to go for a residency program.

5. Job Prospects

There are many job prospects and employment opportunities available as a pharmacist. Pharmacists can be employed at Retail health stores, grocery stores, department stores, hospitals, wholesalers and outpatient care centers, and even pharmaceutical manufacturers or institutions.

How Long Does it take to Become a Pharmacist?

The number of years it takes to become a pharmacist depends on the career path you follow. It’s either you go through a traditional undergraduate program and spend 2 – 4 years studying, and complete all pre-requisite courses to strengthen your application when applying to graduate pharmacy programs.  

The other path is a dual degree program, commonly referred to as the “0-6” program. This is because you will earn both your bachelor’s degree and PharmD in 6 years of studying the program. The pre-professional study focuses on the first two years while the remaining four years will be spent in a professional pharmacy degree program.

The benefit of the “0-6” programs is two-fold: one is that students won’t need to take the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test), and will get their PharmD sooner than later.

For the first path, going through an undergrad degree first will then require 8 years in total to get a PharmD (4 years undergrad, 4 years PharmD). So the 6 years of a dual degree program is preferable. But that’s not all. Pharmacist students may still have to complete their residency 1-2 years after their PharmD, thereby making it 9-10 years in total on the traditional path and 7-8 years on the other one.

One advantage of going for the “0-6” programs is that students can usually apply in high school and get admission into a PharmD program by the time they complete their undergraduate requirements. Though the programs may or may not be on a longer timeline, the main benefit is that admission into the pharmacy school is guaranteed, and the students do not need to take the PCAT exam or apply to PharmD programs.

Pharmacist Careers

After a patient visits a doctor and receives a prescription for medicine or another approved remedy, pharmacists are responsible for filling and administering those prescriptions. It’s not a straightforward exchange, because a pharmacist must use his extensive knowledge of drug dosage, allergens, regulation, and chemical reactions for every individual who comes to them with a prescription. 

Other topics of paramount importance to pharmacists are Public health, health promotion, and disease prevention, and they work with assistants, technicians, and the general public to promote greater health awareness. Pharmacists can be found in drug stores, private pharmacies, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

How Much Do Pharmacists Make?

According to the BLS, a pharmacist’s average annual wage is $123,670. In the US, there are certain states where pharmacists earn the most. They include Alaska ($139,880), California ($139,690), Vermin($135,420), Maine ( $133,050), Wisconsin ($132,400), Oregon ($130,480), Minnesota($129,080), Missouri($128,420), Washington ($127,360) and New Hampshire($127,350). 

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Pharmacists Job Prospects

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of pharmacists in the United States will increase by 14 percent between 2012 and 2022. This is almost the average for all other occupations.

BLS predicts that as more people complete Pharm.D. programs, competition will be strong for pharmacist jobs. There will be high demand for pharmacists due to many factors, including increased access to health insurance and an aging population.

As aspiring pharmacists, you can enhance your job prospects by pursuing additional certification and training after you complete your degree. You may also take on residency after graduation to learn more about a chosen specialty.

How to find a Job as a Pharmacist

There are lots of pharmacist staffing services that recruit pharmacists on behalf of pharmacies, hospitals, and other organizations that are looking for them.  

A pharmacist graduate should make professional contacts during the clinical training and rotations as part of their Pharm.D. program. They can also apply for a pharmacist job directly through an open posting.

Conclusion

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who specialize in using, storing, preserving, and dispensing medicine in the right way. With their extensive knowledge of prescription medicines, they can prescribe medication to patients, and counsel the patient on how to use the medications. In large hospitals, fill and dispense prescriptions issued by doctors to patients.

FAQs on How to become a Pharmacist

How many years does it take to be a pharmacist?

The Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree program takes at least two years of undergraduate college study and four academic years of professional pharmacy study. After completing three or more years of college, the majority of these students enroll in a pharmacy degree program. 

What qualifications do you need to be a pharmacist?

Basic entry requirements include a four-year Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree completed and approved by the General Pharmaceutical Council. Pharmacy students can do a two-year Pharmacy foundation degree if they do not qualify to enter an MPharm degree. 

What is the quickest way to become a pharmacist?

The quickest way to become a pharmacist is to go through a pre-pharmacy program. A pre-pharmacy program takes about two years to complete while a bachelor’s degree takes about four years.

How much do Pharmacists make?

According to the BLS, a pharmacist’s average annual wage is $123,670. In the US, there are certain states where pharmacists earn the most. They include Alaska ($139,880), California ($139,690), Vermin($135,420), Maine ( $133,050), Wisconsin ($132,400), Oregon ($130,480), Minnesota($129,080), Missouri($128,420), Washington ($127,360) and New Hampshire($127,350).

What makes a good pharmacist?

The ideal pharmacist upholds high moral standards, is trustworthy, is mature, and is supportive of inquiries during the information-giving process to understand the patient’s requirements and preferences.

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