Every year, the need for healthcare professionals continues to increase across the globe. More and more people seek quality healthcare and disease-free life. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most vital sectors in the healthcare sector.
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Pharmacists are required to prescribe drugs for patients and educate them on how to use the drugs. Their role also extends to the supervision of medicine supply chains and giving valuable recommendations about drug selection and dosages to doctors and other health professionals.
If you’re thinking about becoming a pharmacist, here’s a simple guide on how to become one:
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In High School
The first step towards becoming a pharmacist is obtaining a High school certificate in science, with studies in mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. Having a deep understanding of these science subjects and scoring high grades will significantly help prepare you for a career in pharmacy.
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Your Bachelor’s Degree
After completing your high school studies, you then proceed to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.
During this period, you take advanced courses in biology, chemistry, English, maths, statistics, history, economics, and other relevant subjects. You may also work as an assistant for a licensed pharmacist who will allow you to observe how activities are carried out and what it means to be a pharmacist.
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Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (PharmD)
With your Bsc at hand, the next step is to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD). The path to getting a PharmD degree is divided into two. The first one requires that you complete your Bachelor’s degree and, after that, proceed to pursue a doctorate in pharmacy.
The Bachelor’s degree usually takes between two to four years to complete. It takes about four years to complete a PharmD program. But some programs could take just two to three years to obtain the PharmD certificate.
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These are accelerated offers, and they also come with rigorous training and education of the potential pharmacists. The main advantage of this path is that it offers more flexibility to students who aren’t very particular about their career choices and might later have a changed mind.
They can easily continue with their Bachelor’s degree and apply for a Masters or Doctorate in any other field they decide to switch to.
The second path (also called the dual-degree program) allows you to obtain both Bachelor’s degree and a Doctorate in Pharmacy (PharmD) together within six years. They are also known as “0-6” programs because of their duration.
In this program, the first two years are dedicated to professional study, followed by years of professional pharmacy degree pursuit.
The benefit of the second path is that you wouldn’t need to take the P.C.A.T. (Pharmacy College Admission Test), and you also get your PharmD quicker than the former route.
If you had decided first to obtain a bachelor’s degree, it would take you at least eight years to obtain a PharmD as against the second path of getting it directly, which takes about six years. This path is excellent for you if you’re positively sure that you want a career in pharmacy.
Another track that typically looks like the second path is the early assurance programs. In this program, high school students are offered the opportunity to apply and are guaranteed admission into a PharmD program if they complete all the undergraduate requirements.
Apart from not having to worry about P.C.A.T. and PharmD programs, the assurance program’s main advantage is the guaranteed admission it gives high school students into pharmacy school.
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What You Should Know?
Subjects such as human anatomy, molecular and cellular biology, physiology, calculus, microbiology, organic chemistry, English, etc. are prerequisite courses for a PharmD program.
Students who have relevant experience with working in a pharmacy, hospital, or any similar environment also have higher chances of being offered admission into a PharmD program.
In the pharmacy school, satisfactory performances in drug design, drug evaluation, and the effects of drugs on the body are necessary for aspiring pharmacists. You will also take courses on how best to advise patients, give medications, and manage business logistics.
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After successfully obtaining a Doctorate in pharmacy, you need to become licensed to practice. The licensing depends on where you attended your pharmacy school.
If you participated in a pharmacy school in the U.S., you must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (N.A.P.L.E.X.) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (M.P.J.E.). The N.A.P.L.E.X.
The exam aims to test your performance with decision making and how good you are at making safe and healthy choices for your patients while the M.P.J.E. review seeks to test your knowledge of federal and state pharmacy laws.
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In addition to the tests, you may also need to take any other licensing test required by your state and complete the number of hours or duration of practical experience required by your jurisdiction.
If you attended your pharmacy school outside the U.S., you are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) and the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination (F.P.G.E.E.).
You will also receive the F.P.G.E.E. certification after successfully passing the examination. If there’s any other test required by the jurisdiction you wish to practice in, take all the tests, and also complete the duration of practical experience needed by your authority.
As soon as you’ve got all your certificates ready, you’re now a certified pharmacist prepared to hunt for your first official job, establish your pharmacy, and begin attending to patients.
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Lastly, being a pharmacist means a lifetime of commitment to learning. It would be best if you continued to learn and improve as you will be required to renew your license from time to time continuously.
This may sound like a lot of stress, but if you’re passionate about being a pharmacist and helping others get better, it can be an enjoyable career.