The educational qualifications to become a pharmacist begin with at least two to three years of undergraduate study, and sometimes a full bachelors degree, before beginning a Pharm.D. program. As an undergraduate your studies should focus on chemistry, biology, and anatomy. Most Pharm.D. programs require that applicants take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), which will assess your readiness for pharmacy school. Pharm.D. programs typically take another four years to complete and will include courses in pharmacology and medical ethics along with practical experience. Some pharmacists also earn a masters degree in public health. Those looking to own their own store may earn a masters degree in business administration (MBA). Licensing is required by all states. In order to become licensed, prospective pharmacists must pass one exam covering pharmacy skills and knowledge and another exam concerning state pharmacy law.
A lot of responsibility is placed in the hands of a pharmacist. Their decisions and actions can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Pharmacists must have excellent judgment, be extremely dependable, and conscientious in their practice. Pharmacists need to be well-organized, diligent, and highly detail-oriented, willing to check and recheck their own work. A pharmacist must also have a very high ethical standard. Finally, it is important that pharmacists have strong communication skills and enjoy working with people. Customers will often seek your advice and it will be your duty to clearly explain proper dosages and possible risks that come along with medications.
Your Pharm.D. program will include a period of supervised work experience where you will get a chance to work in different pharmaceutical environments, like hospitals and retail pharmacies. If you are interested in pursuing an advanced pharmacy position, such as a clinical pharmacist or research job, you will need to complete a one to two year residency after finishing your Pharm.D. degree.
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