Becoming a pharmacist

Do you like to science? Are you good at math? Are you prepared for a long and rigorous course of study? If so, you may enjoy a career as a pharmacist. Dispensing drugs is the obvious skill needed by a pharmacist, but other skills include:

• Knowing the interactions of different drugs
• Being able to educate patients about drug effects and side effects
• Continually learning about new drugs and recommended practices

If you think you possess these traits, or would like to learn how, you will probably be a good pharmacist.

How to Become a Pharmacist
Becoming a pharmacist requires a dedication to education. Pharmacists are required to earn a doctorate degree in pharmacy, known as a PharmD, from an accredited program. This four-year commitment is in addition to undergraduate studies. Undergraduate studies heavily emphasize the sciences, including chemistry, biology, and human anatomy. Strength in mathematics is also necessary since pharmacists are required to determine correct dosages of prescribed medicines. Some pharmacy colleges now combine undergraduate and doctoral programs as one, making for a six-year course of study. Even after completing their degree, pharmacists must pass both a national certification exam, as well as the licensing exam for the state in which they intend to practice.

What Pharmacists Do
Pharmacists are responsible for filling the medical prescriptions written by doctors. They must calculate the correct dosages, prepare and dispense prescriptions, educate patients on the correct use of medicines, answer patient questions on both prescribed and over the counter drugs, as well as promote wellness and healthy living practices. Since many patients see more than one specialist for different medical conditions, an essential job of a pharmacist is to record and track the various prescriptions that patients receive and make sure that dangerous combinations are not dispensed.

Pharmacists who work in hospitals will have more interaction with doctors and medical professionals, while retail pharmacists will have much more interaction with the public. Some pharmacists prefer to work in research, developing new medicines and providing professional standards for the manufacture, use and distribution of medicines.

What Is the Job Outlook for Pharmacists?
Job growth in this field is expected to grow 25% over the next ten years, which is on par with other medical professions. Pharmacists work in both hospital and retail settings.

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