Q. What education is required to start a pharmacist career?
To become a pharmacist at least two years of undergraduate study including chemistry, biology, math and science are required. Because pharmacist schools are competitive, many individuals interested in a pharmacy career will get an undergraduate degree before applying. There are precise undergraduate course requirements that must be fulfilled by the student before they can be eligible to apply to any pharmacy school. The exact number and types of courses vary with the individual pharmacy school. Pharmacy school is generally considered postgraduate work and will normally require four years to complete and confer a Pharm.D. Degree. Some pharmacists continue their education and specialize in specific areas. Hospital pharmacist jobs such as parenteral therapy require further education and training.
Q. Do You Need a License to Become a Pharmacist?
Yes, a license is required for all states of the U.S. To obtain a license as a pharmacist, eligible applicants must pass a licensure exam called the NAPLEX. To be eligible to take the exam for licensure, the applicant must have obtained a Pharm.D. from a pharmacy school recognized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. In addition, 44 U.S. states require the applicant pass a MSJE (Multi State Jurisprudence Examination) which is a test on pharmacy law. States that do not require the MSJE have their own version of testing on pharmacy law that the applicant must pass.
Individual states may also impose an age limit on pharmacists and some require additional tests for licensure. There are some states that also require a background check before a license is issued. Before an applicant can begin their pharmacy career, they must have a specific number of work hours under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. During practical or clinical hours, the individual will gain experience in most aspects of day-to-day pharmacist jobs including record keeping and patient counseling. Many students fulfill a large number of those hours during school where they may work in hospital pharmacist jobs under the supervision of instructors and licensed pharmacists.
Foreign students who have graduated from a pharmacy school outside the U.S. must apply for approval to take Foreign Graduate Pharmacy Committee to take a Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination. Some graduates from accredited Canadian Pharmacy schools are exempt from this equivalency examination requirement provided they graduated before 2004.
Q. Where Can I find Pharmacist Jobs?
Pharmacists can work in many different settings but very frequently, opportunities will be found in hospital pharmacist jobs and in community or local pharmacy settings. Pharmacists may also be find employment in research settings. Research settings will usually require a course of advanced study. Pharmacists require a myriad of skills including strong communication skills because they will be counseling patients on drug side effects and advising doctors or hospital staff or possible drug interaction problems. Although pharmacists do not regularly compound drugs these days, parenteral therapy and certain other types of drug therapy require the pharmacist mix drugs in a sterile solution to achieve the desired effect.
The job forecast for pharmacists is bright and because accredited pharmacy schools have a limited number of students they may accept, the competition for jobs in this field is likely to be far less intense than other careers. A registered pharmacist will often have many opportunities from which to choose and many pharmacists choose to work on a part time only basis. This is a career field where growth is predicted to be steady and there are predicted to be more jobs than qualified individuals to fill them through 2018. Mail order pharmacies also require licensed pharmacists and the demand for pharmacists in this type of setting is also predicted to be greater than the number of qualified pharmacists available to fill them.
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