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Become a Pharmacist

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 2

Pharm.D. degrees are becoming more and more sought out as students hear about the comfortable salary and the availability of jobs in pharmacy practice settings. According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Services), jobs will grow by 17% between 2008 and 2018 (269,900 pharmacists in 2008 and reaching 315,800 pharmacists by 2018). In the today, you must earn the Pharm.D. degree to become a licensed pharmacist. In the past, you were able to become a pharmacist with a B.S. in Pharmacy, but this is no longer the case. Pharmacy Technician degrees (CPhT) are available for those who want to work as pharmacy technicians. Please note that state laws differ for pharmacy technicians, with some states not requiring the certification.

Pharmacy schools have begun shaping more and more their curriculum around clinical pharmacy practice. Contrary to public image, more and more pharmacists serve clinical roles as the drug experts within hospitals where they work alongside doctors and nurses as an integral part of the health care team. In addition, many Pharm.D. graduates work for the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), regulatory positions (FDA, etc.), entrepreneurial ventures, etc. The Pharm.D. is a very versatile degree, and many employers value the clinical knowledge that graduates possess, especially from the top-ranked pharmacy schools (USC, Purdue, UCSF, UNC are some that come to mind).


Gaining admission into pharmacy schools is becoming more and more difficult as the number of applicants increase every year. For example, at the University of Southern California, the entering class of 2009 had over 2500 applicants, 460 were interviewed, 240 were accepted, and 190 entered in the first year class. The key to gaining acceptance into pharmacy school is to do well on your prerequisite courses (requirements differ from school to school, so please check with each school's website) and to score well on the standardized pharmacy exam, PCAT (check schools that don't require the PCAT). Additionally, gaining pharmacy work experience and strong extracurricular experience, although not necessary, will make you a strong candidate.

The PCAT consists of 2 writing sections (problem solving and conventions of language) as well as 5 sections on Verbal Ability, Biology, Reading Comprehension, Quantitative Ability, and Chemistry. The PCAT link above will list some recommended books for self-study.

PharmCAS is the centralized application website used by pharmacy schools to process your application. Additionally, pharmacy schools will probably require you to submit a supplemental application found on their respective website. PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILs when it comes to your applications as students have been denied in the past for misreading clearly written instructions.

Some other resources include StudentDoctor.net, which is a message board for health-care students and PharmApplicants.com, which lists accepted profile data of pharmacy school applicants.


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Comments

Jul 1, 2010 4:54pm
HealthFitnessTips
Now is a great time to become a pharmacist...in some markets you can name your price (salary)!
Sep 29, 2010 4:13pm
mcimicata
Excellent article that was well written, and provided me with some great knowledge that I didn’t have before.
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