If you’re an aspiring pharmacist, you may already know a bit about what it takes to make your way into the industry. Here’s a hint: there’s a whole lot of hard work and education involved! But, what most people don’t know is that pharmacists are among the most highly-educated health professionals in the entire healthcare industry. In other words, hard work pays off!
In this article, we’ll break down exactly how much education pharmacists need and will explore a few of the ways they can utilize their wealth of education once they’re practicing in the industry.
How Much Education Do Pharmacists Need?
To practice as a pharmacist in the United States, there are a number of requirements. These requirements can be broken down into three different categories:
- Pre-Pharmacy School Requirements
- Pharmacy School
- Post-Pharmacy School Licensing
Typically, all of these requirements add up to around six full years of specialized education and training. The following is a detailed look at what is involved in each phase of a pharmacist’s education.
Pre-Pharmacy School Requirements
Before a future pharmacist can attend pharmacy school, they must first ensure that they have completed the necessary prerequisite course work. This pre-pharmacy school course work is completed during the student’s undergraduate studies. This typically consists of about two years worth of specialized course work.
Once the pre-pharmacy school requirements have been completed, an aspiring pharmacist needs to obtain their Doctor of Pharmacy (otherwise known as PharmD) degree. Students must obtain this degree from an accredited pharmacy institution. A PharmD program typically takes four academic years to complete.
Post-Pharmacy School Requirements
After obtaining a PharmD degree, there is one more step that must be completed before becoming a practicing pharmacist—licensure. This licensure can be obtained by passing a state pharmacy licensure exam.
Putting a PharmD Education to Work
Once a person has completed all three phases of the pharmacist education process, they can finally begin their career as a practicing pharmacist. It’s during this time that pharmacists put their extensive education to work in a variety of ways.
How Pharmacists Serve as a Resource
Pharmacists spend many years studying, so it only makes sense that they are seen as a great resource in the healthcare industry. Not only can pharmacists distribute drugs, but they can also serve as a reliable resource regarding over-the-counter medications, minor illnesses, and much more.
How Pharmacists Fit Into A Team of Health Professionals
In addition to serving as a resource to individuals in a pharmacy setting, practicing pharmacists are also considered to be the most knowledgeable health professionals when it comes to drugs and medications. They’re medicine experts! Because of this, a pharmacist’s role among a team of health professionals is to advise them on the best medications in each unique situation.
How Pharmacists Prevent Dangerous Health Complications
Arguably one of the most important functions that a practicing pharmacist assumes in their career is preventing dangerous health complications from occurring. They do this by reviewing each patient’s current and prescribed medications to ensure that dangerous interactions will not occur. As you can probably imagine, this essential task requires an extremely high level of knowledge and education.
These are just a few of the day-to-day functions that practicing pharmacists are able to carry out with their extensive education and training. To learn more about the various career opportunities available in pharmacy, explore our Career Pathways page.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort necessary to become a highly-educated health professional, then a career as a pharmacist might be a great fit. As we mentioned previously, hard work pays off, and a rewarding career in pharmacy is worth the effort!