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How to Enter the Pharmacy Field: Degrees, Colleges, and More

by Bigmountaindrugs - March 30 , 2020

Photo Credit by: Comms Engage,
Photo Credit by: Comms Engage,

Wondering how you can enter the pharmacy field? Looking to become a pharmacist yourself? It’s good to do as much research as you can as you make plans to enter the pharmacy field. It’s a challenging but rewarding career choice.

The degree or college you need in order to enter the pharmacy field depends primarily on what exactly you want to do in the field. For example, you need more schooling to become a pharmacist than to become, say, a pharmacist clerk. There are different needs and degree requirements depending on the different positions and roles in the field.

In this article, we’ll review essential information on pharmacy degrees and the best colleges for entering the pharmacy field. If you have questions or are considering a career in pharmacy, you’ve come to the right place.

How to become a pharmacist

If you’re wondering how to become a pharmacist, you likely already know at least a few things about the job and what it entails. You may have encountered or worked with a pharmacist before for your own health needs.

To sum it all up in a succinct manner, according to The Balance Careers: “Pharmacists dispense medications prescribed by doctors and other healthcare professionals and then explain to their patients how to use them correctly. They answer questions about both prescriptions and over-the-counter products, help patients manage illnesses, and keep track of what drugs individuals are taking so they can avoid interactions. Pharmacists also advise doctors and other health practitioners about drug selection, dosages, and interactions.”

Becoming a pharmacist is a big responsibility and will require about six to eight years of schooling after graduating from high school, plus getting licensed. However, with drive and determination, you can become a pharmacist and enter into a career that presents both challenges and perks.

Fortunately, with a pharmacy degree, there are a lot of directions your career can take, so you have some options.

According to VeryWell Health, some of the career path options for pharmacists include: a career in retail pharmacy (those who dispense medications at drug stores or grocery stores), clinical pharmacy careers (they work in a hospital as part of a medical care team), pharmacy jobs at long-term care centers, working with a home health nurse, nuclear pharmacists (those responsible for measuring and delivering the radioactive materials used in digital imaging like MRIs or CT scans), and more corporate jobs, like with an insurance company.

Pharmacist degree: What degree do you need to be a pharmacist?

As should be expected, becoming a pharmacist is no small undertaking. There’s a special degree you’ll need to earn just to become a pharmacist. It’s called a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, or PharmD, and the school you earn it from must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.

As part of your coursework on the road to earning your PharmD, you’ll take quite a few science and math classes. A lot of classes will focus on chemistry, pharmacy skills, anatomy, and more. Classes on immunizations and other medical topics will also likely be part of your pharmacy education.

Getting into a PharmD program is no easy task, but there are options like early assurance programs that help pave the road a little more clearly. Keep in mind that your GPA and SAT or ACT score may also come into play as you apply to PharmD programs. Also, some schools require that you take the PCAT, a pharmacy school entrance exam. Later, to get licensed, you’ll have to take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX).

Next comes applying for your first professional pharmacy job!

Even if you are already a licensed pharmacist in another country, you’ll have to take some tests in order to get re-licensed to work as a pharmacist in the US. But don’t get discouraged: it can be done! The same determination you showed to become a pharmacist in your home country will apply to your journey to becoming a pharmacist in the US as well.

Best colleges for pharmacy students

If you want to become a pharmacist, chances are you want to attend the best of the best schools for it. You are likely a high achiever who’s not afraid to work hard and study harder. If that’s the case, pharmacy is probably a great field for you!

But which colleges are the best colleges for pharmacy students? Here are the top pharmacy schools, as ranked by US News:

1. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

2. University of Minnesota

3. University of California, San Francisco

4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

5. University of Texas, Austin

6. Ohio State University

7. University of Illinois, Chicago

8. University of Kentucky

9. Purdue University

10. University of Florida

If you attend any of these pharmacy schools, chances are you’ll be set up for success.

Another great option is the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy at Palm Beach Atlantic University. It’s a highly respected program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, and incoming classes are limited to just 75 students. To give you an example of the quality of student they’re looking for, you’ll need to earn a cumulative GPA of 3.4 and a composite PCAT score of over 70 in order to be considered for application or matriculation.

Graduates from PBA’s pharmacy program have routinely exceeded both the State and U.S. average in the NAPLEX pass rate, and students have placed first in the annual Florida Pharmacy Association NASPA/NMA competition four of the last eight years. In addition, students of the program complete annually over 4,500 hours of service both locally and abroad, so they truly are making a difference in the lives of others.

Alternatives to becoming a pharmacist

Not sure that becoming a pharmacist is the right choice for you? That’s okay. There are a lot of related jobs in the pharmacy field. You don’t have to become a pharmacist to work in the pharmacy field; there are a lot of other options, too.

Some of the most common jobs in the pharmacy field (other than being a pharmacist) include being a clerk at a pharmacy, a pharmacy technician (also called a pharmacy assistant), laboratory technician, or even working in a pharmacy call center.



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While the above article is based on thorough research, we do not claim to offer a substitute for medical advice from a qualified healthcare provider. We aim to provide helpful information to our readers, but cannot provide a treatment, diagnosis, or consultation of any sort, not even for pets, and we are in no way indicating that any particular drug is safe or appropriate for you and your individual needs. To receive professional medical attention, you must see a doctor.
Prescriptions Dispensed from Canada are Dispensed by: Candrug Pharmacy, ID#18985 604-543-8711. Pharmacy Manager: Carol Hou. This pharmacy is duly licensed in the province of British Columbia, Canada by the College of Pharmacists of BC. If you have any questions or concerns you can contact the college at: 200-1765 West 8th Ave Vancouver, BC V6J 5C6 Canada. In addition to dispensing from our affiliated Canadian dispensing pharmacy, we also arrange for your medications to be dispensed from licensed pharmacies and international fulfilment centers that are approved by the regulatory bodies in their respective countries. We affiliate with dispensaries in the following jurisdictions that ship product to our customers: Canada, Mauritius, India, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, and United Kingdom. All prices are in US dollars.
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