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Are you interested in becoming a pharmacist?

A pharmacist is a medical professional responsible for dispensing medication to individuals who’ve received a prescription from their doctor, nurse practitioner, psychiatrist, or other clinical professional.

Pharmacists must have a vast working knowledge of the different types of available medication, how each medication interacts with food, alcohol and other medication, along with any potential side effects of the prescribed drugs.

Sometimes, a pharmacy technician is confused with a pharmacist.  These two positions are completely different and one does not lead to the other.

Pharmacists can find employment in community pharmacies, health insurance companies, hospitals, colleges, and research centers.

Pharmacist Job Description

Pharmacists are not only responsible for dispensing medication, but, depending on the location they are employed, their job description can also include:

  • Counseling patients on the use of prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Providing patients with information on topics of general heath, such as diet and exercise
  • Making sterile solutions that can be administered intravenously
  • Planning, monitoring, and evaluating drug regimens
  • Keeping computerized confidential records of each patient’s medication regimen in an attempt to prevent harmful interactions between medicines.
  • Overseeing pharmacy technicians to ensure each prescription is filled correctly
  • Developing pharmacy benefit packages and determining the benefits and costs of particular medications
  • Teaching students about the field of pharmacy
  • Researching and developing new medicines and testing the effects of those medicines

How to Become a Pharmacist

If you are interested in becoming a pharmacist, you must first earn a Doctor of Pharmacy, or Pharm.D. degree from a pharmacy school or an accredited college or university.

However, before you can even apply to a pharmacy program at either of these locations, you must complete two years of prerequisite courses at an accredited college. These courses generally involve mathematics, biology, chemistry, social sciences, and physics.

In addition to this prerequisite training, some pharmacy programs will require an additional three or more years of completed general college education before applicants can be accepted into a Doctor of Pharmacy program.

Once you have completed your prerequisite courses for a specific pharmacy program, you can begin earning your Doctor of Pharmacy degree. This will take an average of four years to complete.

During the course of your degree, you will learn about public health, drug therapy, how to communicate with patients, how to work with other health care providers, and how to manage a business. You will also work with different licensed pharmacists for hands-on training.

After earning your degree, you can continue your training in a one or two year fellowship or residency program. If you do not want any additional training, you can move on to licensing.

Every state and territory of the United States requires practicing pharmacists to obtain a license before they begin distributing medications. This license is obtained through National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, or NABP, and prospective pharmacists must pass at least two or three different examinations to receive it.

The specific number of tests required will depend on the state where the student lives.

If you want to become a pharmacist, here are a few steps you should take:

  • Research accredited pharmacy programs and find the one that is right for you.
  • Discover what specific prerequisites the program requires and begin taking these courses at an accredited college or university.
  • Apply to the Doctor of Pharmacy program and earn your degree.
  • Consider taking a fellowship or residency program for additional training. If you wish to work as a pharmacist in a clinical setting, this will be required.
  • Obtain your license by taking the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam. Certain states may also have additional exams for you to take before you can obtain your license.

Salary and Job Benefits for Pharmacists

According to the, the average annual salary for a pharmacist is $114,600. This number can vary greatly, depending on location, experience, and educational background.

In addition to a great salary, pharmacists can also benefit from benefits such as:

  • Social security
  • 401k
  • Health insurance, including medical, dental, and vision
  • Paid time off
  • Disability benefits and insurance
  • Pension
  • Bonuses
  • Life insurance
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Continuing education assistance
  • Flexible spending accounts

Are you ready to begin your new career as a pharmacist? With a high paying salary, numerous employment benefits, and the opportunity to work in a variety of settings, a career as a pharmacist can be an excellent decision.