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WOW! All BEST Colleges Ranked! | How to Become a Pharmacist
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How to Become a Pharmacist

how to become pharmacist

How to Become a Pharmacist

Perhaps you are considering a career as a pharmacist and are wondering exactly what is a pharmacist and what is a pharmacist job description. These are valid questions that need answers before embarking on your educational journey. It’s important to know exactly what you will be doing and what your responsibilities will be in advance.

What Does a Pharmacist do?

A pharmacist is a professional health care provider whose job is to dispense drugs prescribed by doctors and/or clinicians to their clients. The majority of pharmacists work in retail drug stores or health care facilities such as hospitals. Dispensing drugs is not all that a pharmacist does, although the majority of the jobs they do are related to this in some way.

Pharmacists are specialists in drugs, their uses, interactions, contraindications, side effects and much more and often have more knowledge than the doctor prescribing the medication because this is their main focus of responsibility.

Many pharmacists work in retail drug stores. When a client picks up a new prescription that they have never taken before, the pharmacist will counsel them on what to expect for side effects, ask what the symptoms of their illness are, ask if they have any allergies, ask if they have ever taken the medication before and things of this nature because it is important for them to know. There may be some detail the other health care providers have missed or have not asked that may decide if he or she is a good candidate for this drug. Pharmacists are a vital component of the health care team providing care to the clients.

Often clients have been using the same drug store and pharmacist for many years and have built up a trusting relationship with the pharmacist and the team. Getting to know his/her client’s health issues and concerns is part of the pharmacists job description. Often they will advise clients on other topics such as diet, exercise, stress management and make recommendations on products. Some pharmacists are trained in administering vaccinations and if the pharmacy is a small community drug store the pharmacist may even provide specialized services to help people quit smoking, or to help with asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure. A pharmacist may choose to earn their Masters in Business Administration and to own their own pharmacy.

Other pharmacists work in health care facilities preparing and dispensing medications for other medical staff to administer to patients. They are available as advisers to medical staff and provide training on uses and side effects of drugs. They may also counsel patients on the drugs that they are taking on discharge. Part of pharmacist job description may be to prepare sterile solutions to be administered intravenously.

Once a pharmacist has become established, they may choose to specialize in certain drug therapy uses such as oncology, geriatrics pharmacy, psychiatric drugs or nuclear pharmacy.

Aside from these two main areas, there are many other choices such as doing research for pharmaceutical manufacturers, working for health insurance companies, working for public health services or even the armed forces.

Wherever drugs are researched, developed, dispensed, studied or taught, there is a need for pharmacists, and the need is steadily growing as this industry continues to grow. The pharmacist salary are also very great and continues to grow as well.

Drugs come in many different forms and dosages and it is the pharmacy technician’s responsibility to know the drugs, dosages, and all pertinent information regarding each drug he or she is preparing. Preparing drugs may involve counting pills, pouring liquid medications, weighing and measuring drugs and often mixing them for specific preparations. Accuracy is critical when preparing all these medications as well as when preparing the label for the bottles. A misplaced dot can mean the difference between a therapeutic dose and an overdose, however it will be double checked by the pharmacist before being dispensed to the client.

When finished preparing each prescription, the pharmacy technician then prepares the label and affixes it to the container, possibly prepares a label for its bag as well and affixes it and adds relevant information to the particular drug into the bag, prices it and files it to be picked up by or delivered to the client.

Part of a pharmacy technician job description would also include establishing and maintaining client profiles where it is critical to keep the information accurate and up to date. This is where many drug interactions may be picked up if a client is using different specialists and receiving prescriptions from them separately. Patients may not always remember names of drugs they are on or forget, or possibly forget to inform the doctor or specialist of a drug allergy. The pharmacy technician may answer some of the client’s general questions pertaining to medications, however most questions about their specific drugs, health care matters etc. must be referred to the pharmacist and all new drugs for clients require a pharmacist consult.

Some pharmacy technicians work in other settings such as hospitals and nursing homes where additional duties may be delivering medications to the nurses, preparing sterile solutions for IVs etc, and recording medication information onto the patient files.

Wherever you choose to work, you should be prepared to stand for long hours of the day, and possibly work weekends and evenings depending on the setting you are working in. You will also need to always keep yourself educated and informed on new drugs, their uses, side effects, other drug interactions, and all the pertinent information that you are required to know for all other drugs you dispense.

This may have been beneficial in your questions “what is a pharmacist” and what is a “pharmacist job description”, however it may help to actually talk to a few pharmacists in their work environment to really understand more of their daily responsibilities in order to make an informed decision. If you want a bit of a more global perspective on being a pharmacist head over to wikipedia.

How To Become A Pharmacist?

Today’s medical and health professionals are busier than ever and with our ever-increasing knowledge, technology, research and medications available for treatment, becoming a pharmacist will offer you a secure and rewarding career.

Your search on how to become a pharmacist has lead you here because there are certain things you want to and need to know before investing your time and money in becoming a pharmacist.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist?

One of the foremost questions on your mind may be “how long does it take to become a pharmacist” and this may vary depending on how much education you wish to invest in. There is no set number of years except for the actual Pharm.D. course that replaced the Bachelor of Pharmacy Degree program, which is a 4 year program. However, pharmacist education requirements to get into this program are at least 2 years prior formal studies in mathematics and natural sciences like chemistry, biology, physics as well as humanities and social sciences. Most people who enter into the Pharm.D. program have already completed 3 years of related studies at a college or university in preparation for this course on top of the required 2 years, although it is not mandatory in becoming a pharmacist. Some graduates go on to further their education by being accepted into 1 or 2 year residency programs or fellowships, but again this is optional on how to become a pharmacist.

Pharmacist education requirements are lengthy, however when you consider the responsibility a pharmacist has in dispensing medications, it is critical to be armed with all the knowledge you can before you begin to practice.

If you are looking in terms of the least amount of time for pharmacist requirements it would be the mandatory 2 years prior and the 4 year Pharm.D. program itself to actually be eligible to enter the profession, and that amount of time is a serious commitment on how to become a pharmacist.

Your actual program will focus on all aspects of drug therapy, and will include working with licensed pharmacists in various pharmaceutical settings. The course will include teaching communication with clients and other healthcare providers regarding drug information and client care. It will also teach professional ethics, business management and public health concepts.

License Exam

When you are finished your program through an approved (by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education) college, you will be required to write and pass the North American Pharmacist License Exam (NAPLEX) in order to practise.

If when you are finished you wish to pursue a career in a clinical setting, it is often mandatory to complete a 1 or 2 year residency program and entering this program usually requires completing a research project. Fellowship programs are individualized to the area you will be working in such as research laboratories and specialized clinical settings.

So you can see becoming a pharmacist requires dedication and hard work, but it can be very rewarding career-wise and monetarily. The pharmacist salary is very good. It is highly likely you are ready to or have already begun your formal training and are just now making your final decision. Or perhaps you are just searching out of curiosity into all health care careers.

Industries that Pay the Top Pharmacy Technician Salary

The top five highest paying industries for this occupation are the Federal Executive Branch, which pays close to $40,000 yearly; scientific, technical consulting service jobs pay $38,680 a year. Academic institutions pay $36,850, company and enterprise management pays $36,560 and pharmacy specialties pay $36,000 a year.

Colleges and universities pay pharmacy assistants about $36,000 a year. State governments pay $32,940 per year. Pharmacy assistants working in substance abuse facilities and psychiatric hospitals earn $32,600. General medical as well as surgical hospitals pay $29,990 and specialty hospitals pay pharmacy assistants $27,990 per year.

The salary of a pharmacist depends upon experience, industry and geographical location. In addition, there are certain specialties in which some pharmacists are trained that can have an effect on the salary.

By all accounts, job opportunities in this occupation are excellent for all specialties. And while most pharmacists work a full work week, many of them work part time and still make a very decent pharmacist salary.

Mental health and substance abuse facilities pay an annual mean wage of $122,380 per year for pharmacists. Pharmacy consultants in management, scientific or technical services earn over $121,000. Physicians’ offices pay pharmacists, on average, $113,450. General merchandise stores and ambulatory health services each pay pharmacists approximately $112,000 a year.

Average Pharmacist Salary in the U.S.

The U. S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment Statistics reports that approximately 268,000 pharmacists were employed in the United States as of May 2010. The average pharmacy salary was a mean hourly wage of $52.59 an hour and a mean annual wage of $111,000. Ten percent earned $82,000 a year, 25 percent earned $88,000 annually. Seventy five percent of the pharmacists earned $125,000 yearly and 90 percent earned $138,000. These estimates do not include pharmacists that worked part time nor were they identified by specialty.

A pharmacist starting salary can also be influenced by the state you live in. The state of Maine pays pharmacists $58.40 per hour; $121,400 a year. California pays the second highest salary of $57.12 or $118,000 annually; Alaska pays close to the same wage. Alabama pays pharmacists in their state $56.70 hourly, or $118,000 a year. In fifth place is the state of Vermont which pays $56.68 or $117,900 to their pharmacists each year.

Pharmacy Specialties

Some pharmacists train to specialize in certain drug therapy areas. These pharmacy specialties include oncology, geriatric, psychiatric and nuclear pharmacy. While the salaries may be slightly different, each pharmacy specialty requires education and training along with mastering certain skills to be a successful pharmacist.

Nuclear Pharmacist Salary

A nuclear pharmacist works under the direction of a physician and is responsible for dispensing, compounding and distributing radiopharmaceutical drugs, such as those used for chemotherapy. The average nuclear pharmacy salary is $112,000 annually. Ten percent of nuclear pharmacists earn $96,000; 25 percent earn $104,000; 75 percent earn $125,000 and ninety percent earn $138,000 annually.

Clinical Pharmacist Salary

A clinical pharmacist consults with other medical practitioners to conduct reviews on drug utilization. They monitor prescription orders as well as how patients react to medication in addition to finding any errors in prescriptions. The median salary of a pharmacist working in this capacity is about $102,000 a year. Ten percent earn the lowest salary for this occupation at $89,000 yearly. Ninety percent of the clinical pharmacists in the United States earn a salary of $115,000 a year.

Pharmacy Technician Salary

Because there may be more job responsibilities and skills needed, a pharmacy technician salary can be slightly more than a pharmacy assistant salary, although the two occupations are most times used interchangeably. Both of these occupations are similar and do involve working in pharmacies, usually supervised by a pharmacist. However, a pharmacy technician will sometimes perform pharmacy specific duties and administrative work. Pharmacy assistants do perform clerical work, at a pharmacy or elsewhere, but normally have less responsibility than a pharmacy technician.

Pharmacy technicians who have been specially trained receive requests for prescriptions, count tablets, label bottles and perform other duties that relate to the pharmacy. In addition, they may also perform some general administrative duties. For performance of these duties, 90 percent of the pharmacy technicians in the United States earn a salary of $41,000 a year. Ten percent earn an estimated pharmacy tech salary of $19,800 a year; 25 percent earn $23,000 a year and seventy five percent earn $34,000 a year. The estimated median pharmacy technician salary is $28,400.

Pharmacy Assistant Salary

Primarily, pharmacy assistants, or pharmacy aides, will complete tasks and clerical duties such as answering phones, stocking the pharmacy and performing cash transactions. They make slightly less than a pharmacy technician. The estimate for the median salary of a pharmacy assistant is a little over $10.00 an hour; which is $21,430 a year. However, ninety percent of pharmacy assistants earn over $31,000 a year depending on experience, industry and location.

Employment Outlook for Pharmacists

Employment projections state that the number of pharmacy technicians is expected to climb from 326,000 technicians in 2008 to 426,000 by the year 2018; an increase of over 99,000 pharmacy technicians or 31 percent. Job prospects for pharmacy technicians look good, and even better for those that are experienced and have formal training or a pharmacy technician certification which will also enable them to receive a higher pharmacy technician salary. Job openings will come from growth in this employment and replacement of workers leaving this occupation.

Depending upon geographical location, projections for the number of pharmacy assistants is expected to decline. There were 54,900 pharmacy assistants employed in the year 2008. It is expected that there will be a decline of 3,500, or six percent of people in this occupation by the year 2018. Even with this decline, the employment prospects for pharmacy assistant job are rated as good by the U.S. Department of Labor since positions will be open as people leave this occupation.

Employment in the pharmacy occupation is expected to grow faster than average over the next few years, especially as healthcare providers such as pharmacists will always be needed, even more so in the future to counteract demand brought by the aging of the population in the US.

Demands for the job will increase with more use of mail order pharmacies. In addition, hospitals, grocery stores and mass retailers will need more pharmacists as these facilities begin to offer patient care services, including prescription services. With the population in North America aging rapidly, bureau of labor statistics expects a rise job opportunities and in a higher pharmacist salary in the future.

The health care industry including the dispensing of drugs is a vast and growing one, as is the number of professionals working within it. Probably by the time you come upon an article such as this, you have some idea in your mind of what type of career you are thinking of. Possibly you have come upon this article while searching for an answer to your questions about what is a pharmacy technician and a pharmacy technician job description.

A licensed professional who works directly under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist (however it is not necessarily always the case) dealing with the dispensing of prescribed drugs and other related duties is the pharmacy technician job description. Related duties may range anywhere from counting and labeling drugs to administrative duties such as answering the phone and stocking shelves. It depends on what environment you work in and how many employees there are, and also whether or not there are any pharmacy aides, who are generally assigned more of the administrative duties.

75% of pharmacy technicians are employed in retail settings where daily duties would include receiving prescription requests from customers, preparing the prescriptions, selecting and labeling the bottles, and pricing and filing the prescription. Prescriptions may be received by hand delivery from the clients or electronically sent directly from the doctor’s office. Some states allow pharmacy technicians to receive prescriptions from the doctor’s office over the phone. The pharmacy technician must verify all information is accurate and complete.



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