How to Become a Pharmacist (Pharm D Background Info, Application Process, Pharmacy Careers)

With an ever increasing demand for health care, more and more students are considering a career as a pharmacist. Before you make that decision, you should become aware of the requirements and career opportunities available for pharmacists. As a pharmacy school student, I have not only experienced the application process but also researched many aspects of the pharmacy profession anabolic pharma.

According to a May 2008 BLS report, there are 266,410 pharmacists in the United States who earn an average of $50.13/hour ($104,620 annually). Salaries vary based on geographical location, employer, and other factors. Many newly registered pharmacists report huge signing bonuses in more rural or in demand areas.

As time passes, pharmacists continue to be given more and more responsibilities within the health care system. Contrary to popular belief, a pharmacist’s job does not constitute counting pills from 9 to 5. Only 62% of pharmacists hold traditional community (retail) pharmacy positions (BLS). Other exciting pharmacy careers include positions in a clinical setting (administering drugs as a part of a medical team), a research lab, a government agency (e.g. poison control), a university, a corporation, a nuclear pharmacy (compounding and dispensing of radioactive materials for use in nuclear medicine procedures), and many others. Unlike other medical professional careers, pharmacy has a diverse range of careers available. In addition, most pharmacists do not need any residency experience for most careers (you will need 1-2 years of residency experience to become a clinical pharmacist).

The Increasing Demand for Pharmacists
Pharmacy careers expect a whopping 22% growth in jobs available from 2006 to 2016 (May 2008 report). With the population aging and filled prescriptions increasing, the demand for pharmacists is projected to grow in all pharmacy settings. Although job placement varies based on geographical location, pharmacists will have little trouble finding a job.

Pharm.D. degree
The Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (Pharm.D.) requires a minimum of 2 years of undergraduate coursework (most students receive a bachelor’s a degree prior to starting pharmacy school) followed by 3 to 4 years of Pharmacy school. Out of high school, students can apply for Pharmacy schools that have a joint undergraduate and Pharm.D. program which lasts from 5 to 7 years. These programs are also known as “0-6 programs” or “early assurance programs.” It is important to note that a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree is different than obtaining a Ph.D. or M.S. in Pharmacy. The Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy has been phased out for the most part, although you may occasionally hear about a registered pharmacist (R.Ph.), who only received a B.S. in pharmacy before the implementation of the Pharm.D. as the norm for pharmacists. I don’t know much about online Pharm.D. program, but I am very skeptical about these programs as pharmacy school is very rigorous with many hands on labs, which would be impossible to do online. Pharmacists are technically doctors (Dr.), but many opt to just place the ‘Pharm.D.’ title after their names.

Undergraduate Majors
There is no requirement or restriction on undergraduate majors for pharmacy school. Many students choose to pursue Biological Sciences and Chemistry majors as many of the pharmacy prerequisites are requirements for those majors. Other students pursue a wide variety of majors (business, art, psychology, economics, engineering, etc.) before beginning their pharmacy careers. In the end, successful completion of prerequisites is what really matters; however, choosing a biology or chemistry (or similar major) may give you a stronger science background to prepare you for the material presented to you in pharmacy school.

PharmCAS
PharmCAS (Pharmacy College Application Service) is the “centralized application service for applicants.” Although a majority of the pharmacy schools use this service, there are a few pharmacy schools that choose not to use PharmCAS. Students use PharmCAS to submit Letter of Recommendations (done either online or by paper), transcripts, a personal statement, and additional application information. This service is not free, and you will need to pay $140 for first pharmacy school and $40 for each pharmacy school after that. It is important to note that some pharmacy schools require you to send in some of the application material DIRECTLY to them in addition to sending it to PharmCAS.

Supplemental Application
Many schools also require a supplemental application and an additional fee in addition to the PharmCAS application. The supplemental application usually contains essays which gives a clearer picture of the candidate and his or her fit with a pharmacy school. PharmCAS has a pharmacy school information page, which lists all of the pharmacy schools and their specific application requirements.

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