How to Become a Pharmacist
Pharmacists must pay attention to detail, ensuring the accuracy of the prescriptions they fill.
Pharmacists must have a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited school. They also must be licensed, which requires passing two exams.
All Doctor of Pharmacy programs require applicants to have taken postsecondary courses such as chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Applicants need at least 2 to 3 years of undergraduate study; for some programs, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree. For most programs, applicants also must take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).
Pharm.D. programs usually take 4 years to finish, although some programs offer a 3-year option. A Pharm.D. program includes courses in pharmacology and medical ethics, as well as supervised work experiences in different settings, such as hospitals and retail pharmacies.
Pharmacists seeking an advanced pharmacy position, such as a clinical pharmacy or research job, complete a 1- to 2-year residency following their Pharm. D. Some pharmacists who own their own store may choose to get a master’s degree in business administration (MBA). Others may get a degree in public health.
All states license pharmacists. After they finish the Pharm. D., prospective pharmacists must pass two exams to get a license. One of the exams is in pharmacy skills and knowledge. The other is in pharmacy law in the state giving the pharmacy license.
Analytical skills. Pharmacists must provide safe medications efficiently. To do this, they must be able to evaluate a customer’s needs, evaluate the prescriber’s orders, and have extensive knowledge about the effects and appropriate circumstances for giving out a specific medication.
Communication skills. Pharmacists frequently offer advice to customers. They might need to explain how to take a medicine, for example, and what its side effects are. They also need to offer clear direction to pharmacy technicians and interns.
Detail oriented. Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the prescriptions they fill, because improper use of medication can pose serious health risks.
Managerial skills. Pharmacists—particularly those who run a retail pharmacy— must have good managerial skills, including managing inventory and overseeing a staff.