How to Become a Pharmacist

Two of the most important factors to consider about how to become a pharmacist are the educational requirements and training. Health care professionals like pharmacists have important functions in the world especially in terms of maintaining and taking care of people’s health. Although they do not provide the personal health care services like what doctors and nurses do, pharmacists’ responsibility is as delicate and important since they are the ones that distribute and provide the right medicines or drugs as prescribed by the doctors.

Having a good job and becoming a professional require sufficient dedication and planning. You need to invest proper time and resources on your education in order to become a pharmacist. However, before deciding to take this path, make sure that you are really interested in this profession and you have the skills and personal traits needed for this profession so you will not find it hard to love and enjoy your work. When deciding, ask yourself, can I be a pharmacist? Do I have the necessary skills and resources? And what are the requirements to be a pharmacist?

Attaining the Right Education to be a Pharmacist

One error on the pharmacist’s part could be detrimental to the patient’s health. That is why pharmacists need to have sufficient educational foundation and should undergo rigorous training before being licensed by the regulating board in the country. If you want a career in pharmacy, you should be interested in sciences and health since these are the main subjects or courses that you need to take to become a pharmacist. You should finish high school and earn a college degree on pre-pharmacy course or other related courses. Some of the main courses you need to take in college in order to be qualified in a pharmacy degree are biology, chemistry, physics, social science courses, humanities and health.

After earning your college degree, (you can take easy bachelors degrees or accelerated online degrees) you should then proceed to a pharmacy school to earn the specific degree become a pharmacist. However, before you can start your pharmacy degree program, you should first pass the admission test usually required by pharmacy schools and colleges for aspiring pharmacists. You should finish a Doctor of Pharmacy degree or most popularly known as Pharm.D. Before entering any school for pharmacist, make sure that the regulating body or agency in your country or state accredits the school of pharmacy or college and the curriculum offered by the specific school. The Doctor of Pharmacy degree program usually takes about 4 to 5 years depending on the specific curriculum offered by your chosen pharmacist school. Coursework and subjects usually included in a Pharm.D programs are pharmaceutics, chemistry specifically focused on pharmaceutical, pharmacology, pharmacy administration, toxicology and other science courses and subjects related to drugs and health.

Training and Requirements for a Pharmacist

Various countries have different educational and training requirements to be a pharmacist. However, in almost all countries, licensure is required in order for a pharmacy graduate to become a registered and certified pharmacist. In United States, pharmacy graduates should pass the pharmacist licensure exam provided by the NABP or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Aside from the knowledge and skills on pharmacy, some states also provide exams on pharmacy law also provided by the NABP, and state laws administered by the state government.

After passing the exam, you still need to undergo training supervised by a licensed pharmacist in order to be allowed to practice your profession. Training and internships usually take 1 to 2 years and most of the internship programs offered by various institutions are paid so as a trainee, you earn an income while finishing your training program. After finishing your internship, you can now practice your profession and look for a pharmacy job in various pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, health institutions and other job areas that need licensed pharmacists. To maintain your license, you need to take continuous trainings and workshops, or refresher courses for pharmacists offered by health institutions and licensing boards in the country.

Personal Improvements and Interpersonal Skills

Becoming a pharmacist is not all about earning the necessary education for pharmacist and getting the trainings and licenses as required by your country or state. You should also have the necessary traits and attitude on how to become a pharmacist.

  • You need to have good communication skills since you will be communicating with people especially patients regarding their medications and health.
  • You should also be watchful and keen to details especially when reading prescriptions since one mistake can lead to serious problems that may affect the patient’s health, and may also cost you your job.
  • A pharmacist’s job is not that easy especially if you are working in a popular retail pharmacy. Pharmacists should learn to efficiently multi-task and do their jobs as accurate as possible since consumers rely on pharmacists to provide them the right medicines they need.

If you are thinking of studying abroad to earn your pharmacy degree, it can be a great option as well. However, if you are planning to practice your profession in your own country, make sure to inquire on how to become a pharmacist through foreign pharmacy degree programs. Ask for the specific foreign schools or colleges for pharmacists that are recognized in your country. Some countries and states allow transfer of license. However, if your license from other countries is not recognized on the country you are currently staying, make sure to pass the necessary requirements and licensure exams required by the country so you can legally practice your profession and provide your services as a licensed pharmacist.

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