Pharmacist Education and Career Training Information

Pharmacists are medical professionals who dispense prescription drugs to individuals. They often consult with doctors, patients and other healthcare service providers to ensure that the proper prescription and dosages are given. Prospective pharmacists will need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and meet state licensing requirements. Some pharmacists will have to complete fellowship or residency.

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Pharmacist Education Information

Individuals who want to become pharmacists will need a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. To be accepted into a Pharm.D. program, students must first complete a pre-professional track that is typically two years in length and includes scientific courses in biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology. Foundational courses in pharmaceutical practices may also be included.

Pharm.D. Accreditation

Students may consider Pharm.D. programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Accreditation demonstrates that a program is preparing students to meet the standards of the profession. According to the ACPE, state licensing boards require applicants to have graduated from an accredited program (www.acpe-accredit.org).

Pharm.D. Coursework

Pharm.D. programs are typically completed in four years and provide instruction on medical dosages, patient consultations and medication interactions. The curricula include coursework in pharmacy law, pharmacotherapy, dosage forms and health management. Students are familiarized with the equipment used on the job, including filling machines and flow cabinets.

Clinical Experience

Clinical experience is a major segment of a Pharm.D. program. In the first two years, students take Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences, in which students develop essential skills, such as consulting patients, delivering immunizations and performing screenings. During the final two years, students take Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) that place them in patient care settings under the supervision of licensed pharmacists. APPEs have rotations that allow students to experience different areas of pharmacy, including inpatient, ambulatory operations and electives.

Pharmacist Career Training Information

Licensing Information

Pharmacists must be licensed to practice. In addition to having a Pharm.D. from an accredited program, individuals must pass the North American Pharmacists Licensure Examination (NAPLEX), which tests applicants on pharmacotherapy, dispensing medications and providing accurate healthcare information ( www.nabp.net).

All states require applicants to complete either the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) or a state-sponsored exam. The MPJE tests students on the legal aspects of the pharmacy practice, licensure requirements and the regulatory laws that govern the profession. The NAPLEX and the MPJE are administered by the National Association of Pharmacy Boards. States may have addition licensing requirements, including background checks or age limits.

Fellowships and Residencies

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), pharmacists who want to work in a clinical setting may consider completing a residency program or fellowship program (www.bls.gov). Residencies and fellowships are individualized programs that train pharmacists for administrative work or a specialty filed, such as informatics or community care. Programs typically last 1-2 years and may include research on the benefits of drug therapy and other topics in the field.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Pharmacists are expected to see a 25% increase in demand between 2010 and 2020, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to the BLS, the field may add 69,700 jobs over that decade. In 2012, the BLS reported an average salary of $114,950 for pharmacists.

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