A Career as a Pharmacist – Just What the Doctor Ordered
To qualify as a pharmacist, one must obtain a doctorate in pharmacy. Before joining a pharmacy school one needs to spend at least two years as an undergraduate. But while most pharmacy schools only admit students who have already gone through two to four years of college a few admit students who are straight out of high school. Such pharmacy schools are few and far between, though.
Factors affecting admission to pharmacy schools
To increase chances of getting admitted to a pharmacy school, there are several things that will work in your favor. One of these is having some experience working in a hospital or any other medical facility. It can be on a voluntary or a paid basis.
Letters of recommendation are usually a requirement with a majority of pharmacy schools. The number of letters of recommendation required by most schools varies from one to four.
Before getting accepted to a pharmacy school, interviews are conducted to evaluate a couple of things. This includes aptitude, motivation, communication skills, problem-solving skills as well as general knowledge of the pharmaceutical and healthcare sector. Previous experience of working in healthcare can be of benefit in such a situation since the knowledge gained will be valuable at such an interview.
Typically to get accepted to a pharmacy school one must take the PCAT – the Pharmacy College Admission Test, and pass. Some of the coursework one can expect to undertake in their pharmacy and pre-pharmacy school years includes physiology, anatomy, biology, physics and chemistry.
As part of their curriculum, pharmacy graduate students are required to gain exposure in various settings including both clinical and pharmaceutical fields.
Career choices as a pharmacist
To most people, the only thing that comes to mind when they think of a pharmacist is the person who dispenses medicine at the local drug store. This is not so since holders of a doctorate in pharmacy can have a career beyond being retail pharmacists. Some of the careers graduates of pharmacy can pursue include the following:
- Clinical Pharmacist
A clinical pharmacist is usually stationed in a hospital working alongside other medical professionals such as dentists, surgeons, physicians and other medical specialists. A clinical pharmacist usually works in consultation with a physician to determine what drugs and in what dosage will work for a particular patient suffering from a certain condition.
- Nuclear Pharmacists
The work of nuclear pharmacists is to measure and deliver the radioactive substances that are necessary for procedures such as digital imaging. And just like clinical pharmacists, they also work in hospitals.
- Retail Pharmacists
As earlier mentioned the job of retail pharmacists is to fill drug prescriptions at pharmaceutical stores. Because of the nature of the retail sector where some stores remain open day and night, it is common for retail pharmacists to work very long hours.
Downside of a career in pharmacy
While the pay for pharmacists is attractive regardless of their field of specialization, burnout is a reality. The work can also become a bit routine. The risk of stagnation is also a possibility since one can remain in the same job description and earn the same salary for over a decade if they don’t take active measures to progress. One other challenge is maintaining a clean record while performing their duties. If a pharmacist makes a mistake in filling a prescription, their career could be ruined forever.