Pharmacists dispense prescription medications and advise patients on how to take the medication and of any potential side effects. They may work for a chain pharmacy, manage their own store, or work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Other career options for pharmacists include employment by universities and pharmaceutical manufacturers to research and test new medications. Some of the typical job responsibilities of pharmacists include:
- Dispensing prescription medication to patients
- Advising patients on how to take a prescribed medicine and of potential side effects
- Contacting and working with insurance companies to obtain prescription medications for patients
- Overseeing the work of pharmacy technicians
The nation's growing population of senior citizens, as well as advances in the production of new drugs is stimulating faster than average job growth for pharmacists. The BLS reports that employment of pharmacists is expected to increase 25% from 2010 to 2020. As healthcare continues to become more complex, more pharmacists will be needed to help with patients take their prescription medications safely.Read More
Job Growth for
Becoming a Pharmacist
Pharmacists must hold a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree and be licensed. A typical Pharm.D. program will take four years to complete and includes supervised field work in a hospital, retail pharmacy, or other healthcare setting. For some Pharm.D programs, applicants do not need a bachelor's degree, although all programs will require two to three years of undergraduate study. Most programs require applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).
Most Pharm.D programs will include courses in pharmacology and medical ethics. Pharmacists may choose to complete a one to two-year residency after earning their Pharm.D in order to advance to a clinical or research pharmacy position. A sampling of classes you may date in a Pharm.D program, drawn from course listings for University of Southern California's doctor of pharmacy program, including the following:
- Public Health & Epidemiology
- Pharmacy Law & Ethics
After completing a Pharm.D, pharmacists must complete two separate exams to become licensed. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) is used by state boards of pharmacy to test prospective pharmacists on their pharmacy skills and knowledge. The second is an exam covering pharmacy law in the state issuing the license.