In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, the medical field here in the U.S. has been exploding. As new technologies come online and the population of the country grows, more and more opportunities exist for those looking for a career in the health and medical profession. One growing career opportunity with excellent pay and benefits is Pharmacy. There are always a shortage of qualified pharmacist it seems and with grocery chains and department stores now putting in Pharmacies, the demand is only growing. But what does it take to become a pharmacist? Well here’s some information to help you get started.
To become a pharmacist, a student needs two years of undergraduate study, but most pharmacists obtain a 4 year degree before choosing to study pharmacy. Therefore they attend college for 8 years instead of the 6 that are actually required. After the 2 year undergraduate degree is secured, the next step is to pass the PCAT, the Pharmacist College Admission Test. The test consists of 7 sections. Two sections require essays and the other 5 have 48 multiple choice questions each. The scores for the test are only partly responsible for qualifying a candidate for admission. The admission board also conducts an interview with the student, looks at recommendations and past history or credentials.
After gaining admission into a pharmacy college the student must earn a doctorate of Pharmacy in the remaining 4-years of school. Students can choose to study pre-pharmacy and the course work will be in biology, chemistry, physiology, anatomy and physics. In addition to the studies, students are required to complete internships in the field, referred to as rotations; as many as 7-10 rotations are required.
During the time of study, a pharmacist learns how drugs affect the body and interact with other drugs. It is also imperative that the administering techniques be fully understood as well. This information will be shared with customers at the pharmacy where they practice on a daily basis. Pharmacist must have basic people skills, the ability to communicate clearly, good concentration and attention skills. They must stand on their feet all day and even a minor mistake could mean the difference between life and death. Some people choose to become a pharmacy technician first on their pathway to being a full fledged pharmacist.
For taking on the great responsibility of being a pharmacist, there is a generous salary and generally great job security in almost every community. The average salary starts around $100,000 and continues at that level for the pharmacist’s entire career. The income is good and the responsibility may be considered overwhelming, but the job security as a pharmacist is excellent.