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What is Pharmacy?
Pharmacy is a field of medicine involved in providing patients medication needed to treat ailments and diseases as outlined by a physicians prescription. Pharmacists see to the operations of a pharmacy and work from a variety of locations including dedicated pharmacies, hospitals and clinics. Pharmacists are responsible for providing education to customers regarding maintaining good health and inform them of possible reactions and side effects of medications dispensed.
A doctor of pharmacy degree (PharmD) allows an individual to become a practicing pharmacist. PharmD programs are typically four years long (or three continuous) with the final year reserved for practical experience. Most pharmacy programs require two years of prerequisite courses prior to admission or a bachelor's degree. For individuals pursuing a degree directly out of high school there are pre-pharmacy programs available, as well as â€œ0-6 programsâ€ which are six year programs that begin with the prerequisite courses and end with required pharmacy graduate level courses. Additionally, most programs will require a score of at least 50% on the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). Pharmacy programs are highly selective due to the nature of the career and limited amount of space. Therefore students looking to enter the field should be prepared for a high amount of competition.
Pre-requisite courses necessary for admission may include:
- Organic Chemistry
More comprehensive information regarding pharmacy program prerequisites can be found here.
Job Growth and Employment Opportunities
The short supply and high demand for pharmacists has led to increases in salary in recent years. Additionally, many tuition benefits may be gleaned from potential employers who wish to secure pharmacists prior to their graduation. With the increase in population, especially as baby boomers begin to enter the retirement age, the necessity for qualified pharmacists is expected to grow. It is important to note that all states require licensing for pharmacists, which in turn requires a pharmacy degree and a passing score on the North American Pharmaceutical Licensing Exam (NAPLEX)
Possible employers include:
- Chain and Privately Owned Drug Stores
- Health Insurance Companies
- Colleges and Universities
- Public Health Care Agencies
Salary and Related Fields
The average income of a pharmacist is $106,500 per year, with the lowest 10% earning less than $77,000 per year. Individuals working in more densely populated areas tend to earn higher salaried to earn more due to the increase in customers.
Those interested in a career as a pharmacist may also wish to consider a career in medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry, clinical and industrial drug development, or pharmacoeconomics, pharmaceutical economics.