How Do I Become a Pharmacist?

If you are considering your career options and are interested in the health care field, you may be interested in the answer to the question, “How do I become a pharmacist?” These health care workers may be employed in drug stores, hospitals, grocery or department stores. People who choose this type of career can expect to spend most of their working day on their feet, and may be expected to work nights and weekends.

Pharmacists are experts on medications and dispensing them is only part of this job. They are also responsible for checking a medication prescribed by a doctor will interact with other drugs the patient is currently taking. The pharmacist can also provide information to clients about side effects of the medications they are taking.

Part of this job also involves filling out insurance claim forms so that patients are able to receive the medication prescribed by a physician. They must keep detailed records of medicines dispensed by their pharmacy and supervise the work performed by pharmacy technicians and interns.

Education Required to Become a Pharmacist

All pharmacists hold a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. This is a professional degree, as opposed to a graduate one. Applicants to these programs must have completed a minimum of two years of post-secondary study before applying for admission to a Pharm.D. program, and some programs require a Bachelor’s degree for consideration.

Prospective pharmacists will also need to write the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). This test is used to help determine how well a candidate would perform in a Doctor of Pharmacy program. The exam structure is made up of five multiple-choice subtests and two writing assignments. Of the 48 multiple-choice questions, only 40 are scored. One of the two writing subtests is also not scored, and does not count toward your test results.

Once you have been admitted to the Pharm.D. program, you will be taking classes in the following subjects:

• Community Pharmacy
• Health Care Systems
• Introduction to Pharmacy Law and Ethics
• Pharmacy Skills and Patient Counseling
• Principles of Diagnosis Labs and Monitoring
• Principles of Pathophysiology and Drug Action
• Principles of Pharmacogenomics
• Public Health Pharmacy

If you are interested in working in a clinical pharmacy or a research position after graduating will probably need to complete a one-two year residency after they complete their Pharm.D. degree. A pharmacist who wants to own his or her own store may want to consider completing a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree as well.

Get Licensed to be a Pharmacist

Pharmacists are licensed health care professionals, and each state sets its own requirements for obtaining one. To become a fully qualified pharmacist, you will need to pass two exams: the first one focuses on knowledge and skills and the second one focuses on state pharmacy law.

If you are wondering about the answer to the question, “How do I become a pharmacist?” you now know that you must obtain a professional degree and write two exams to obtain a license to work in this field.

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