As you know, pharmacists dispense prescription medications to patients. They also ensure safe use of prescriptions. But are pharmacists doctors? The answer may surprise you.
Yes. Since around 2004, pharmacists earn what’s called a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D). This credential allows them to conduct health and wellness screenings, provide immunizations, oversee the medications given to patients, and provide advice on healthy lifestyles.
This video explains what a pharmacist can do.
Pharmacist Career Overview
Pharmacists work in pharmacies, including those in drug, general merchandise, and grocery stores. They also work in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
The median annual wage for pharmacists was $128,090 in May 2019.
Employment of pharmacists is projected to decline 3 percent from 2019 to 2029.
11 Surprising Facts About Pharmacists
1. Pharmacists Have to Wear Many Hats
In addition to filling prescriptions, verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give to patients, they have to relay information to patients. They advise people on health topics such as diet and exercise, stress management and treating common health problems. Pharmacists have to teach, communicate and remember the tiniest of details.
They have to fill out insurance forms and work with insurance companies to help people get the medications they need.
2. Pharmacists are on the Frontline of Giving COVID-19 Vaccinations and Flu Shots
According to a November 2020 announcement, from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. government partnered with large chain pharmacies and networks that represent independent pharmacies and regional chains. This move covers 60% of pharmacies throughout the U.S.
In addition to traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies, pharmacists, pharmacy interns, and pharmacy technicians will also provide vaccinations in retail and grocery stores.
3. There is More Than One Type of Pharmacist
There are a few different types of pharmacists. The type of pharmacists are based on where they work and who the the customer is. Here are a few examples of different types of pharmacists that you could see.
What Community Pharmacists Do
These pharmacy professionals work in retail stores such as chain drug stores or independently owned pharmacies.
They dispense medications to patients and answer any questions that patients may have about prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, or any health concerns that the patient may have.
They also may provide some primary care services such as giving flu shots.
What Clinical Pharmacists Do
Clinical pharmacists work in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare settings. Clinical pharmacy workers spend little time dispensing prescriptions. Instead, they provide direct patient care.
The scope of clinical pharmacy includes going on rounds in a hospital with a physician or healthcare team. These pharmacists recommend medications to give to patients and oversee the dosage and timing of the delivery of those medications.
They also conduct some medical tests and offer advice to patients. For example, pharmacists working in a diabetes clinic may counsel patients on how and when to take medications, suggest healthy food choices, and monitor patients’ blood sugar.
What is a Consultant Pharmacist?
Consultant pharmacists advise healthcare facilities or insurance providers on patient medication use or improving pharmacy services. They also may give advice directly to patients, such as helping seniors manage their prescriptions.
What Pharmaceutical Industry Pharmacists Do
These specialized pharmacists work in areas such as marketing, sales, or research and development.
They may design or conduct clinical drug trials and help to develop new drugs. They may also help to establish safety regulations and ensure quality control for drugs.
4. Most Pharmacists Work in Drug Stores and Pharmacies
According to the latest numbers from BLS.gov, pharmacists held about 321,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of pharmacists were:
|Pharmacies and drug stores||42%|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||26|
|Food and beverage stores||8|
|General merchandise stores||5|
5. To Become One, You’ll Need a Pharmacist Major
After earning your high school diploma, earning your Doctor of Pharmacy degree takes 6-8 more years of school. That’s why a solid pharmacist major choice is important.
Note: The 6-8 years it takes to become a pharmacist doesn’t include getting licensed, the last step in to finish educational requirements for this job.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, to become a pharmacist, you’ll need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree (PharmD). But you have to do so from a school or college of pharmacy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education.
Pharmacists Schools in Washington State
For example, pharmacy schools in Washington state include the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Washington State University. The Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (PharmD) requires three years of pre-pharmacy coursework and the 4-year PharmD program, regardless of prior degrees.
Students in the the WSU PharmAcy program spend the first three years of the Doctor of Pharmacy program on the WSU Health Sciences campus in Spokane or the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program extension on the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences campus in Yakima.
The fourth year is a series of six Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE) in assigned geographic locations across Washington and in northern California. A seventh rotation is optional.
Pre-pharmacy courses are offered as two or four-year degrees. Pharmacy majors should have an idea of which graduate program they will pursue before choosing an undergraduate program.
Four-year degrees incorporate more general education and liberal arts classes, while two-year programs are focused on courses relevant to the field.
Courses for a pre pharmacy major include
- organic chemistry
- human anatomy and physiology
- molecular and cellular biology
While some pharmacy schools accept students from high school, and you can complete the program in 6-7 years, other programs require you to complete two years of pre-professional college study. Many schools want students to have a bachelor’s degree before applying to their PharmD programs.
6. You’ll Need to Write a Personal Statement for Pharmacy School
About half of pharmacy school applicants do not get accepted into their first choice program. Even though the applicants have good entrance exam scores and an enviable undergraduate grade point average, they need more than grades in the application process.
To be a top candidate, you need recommendations from professors and practicing pharmacists. But it is the personal statement that gets you in the pharmacy school. You need to communicate what led you to pursue a pharmacy career and write in a professional tone.
Here’s a video about why a personal statement for pharmacy school or medical school is so important.
7. There are Accredited Online PharmD Degree Programs
Becoming a pharmacist online is possible. Not only that, but you can get your pharmacy degree from an ACPE accredited school. Here are a few examples of pharmacist education options.
In 2001, Creighton University started the first accredited Distance Pathway, providing a full-time method to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
The online program covers the same material as the on-campus program, but offers students the flexibility of completing coursework online. Students can interact with faculty and mentors using web conferencing software, discussion boards, email, telephone and other media.
Some parts of the distance learning are synchronous (live). Students complete laboratory courses and other activities on campus during two-week sessions during the summer.
The clinical component of the distance pharmacy program is the same as the campus pharmacy pathway. A total of eight five-week clinical rotations are required, five of which are in required subject areas, with the remaining three in elective subject areas. Sites for clinical rotations are available in a variety of locations throughout the country and internationally.
You can earn your Doctor of Pharmacy in four years through the Duquesne University School of Pharmacy Online Program. The program combines online and limited on-campus instruction in Pittsburgh.
The first three years require a small amount of on-campus instruction. The fourth year, however, involves rotations in practice settings.
New York’s first online PharmD program, the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College offers the Fisher Pharm.D. Online program that prepares you to be a pharmacist of distinction. The PharmD program has two yearly enrollments, in May and September.
8. The ISTJ Personality Type is a Natural Fit for Pharmacy Work
The duties of a pharmacist require a skill of paying attention to every detail. This investigative career also demands an inquisitive mind that can recall information quickly and accurately. Pharmacists work within an established framework and much follow strict rules and regulations in performing their job duties.
The Inspector or ISTJ personality type thrives in traditional, established occupations. This Myers-Briggs personality type is meticulous and dependable. They take rules, regulations, protocol and specifications seriously and expect others to do the same. ISTJs want order. They also prefer a quiet workplace, versus chaotic creativity.
A pharmacist career is also of interest to people with investigative career interests. These jobs focus on solving problems and working with information. Pharmacists must continually update their knowledge, and be able to process a lot of information in a little amount of time.
9. California Has the Highest Average Pharmacist Salary
The average salary for a pharmacist in California is $148,270 a year. That’s about $20,000 more than the national average salary of $128,090, according Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 wage data. In the Los Angeles metro area, a pharmacist’s average salary is $145,030.
Other top paying states for
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of pharmacists.
10. You Can Go From Registered Nurse to Pharmacist with a Bridge Program
Schools such as Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Pharmacy offer an RN to PharmD Bridge program. This is a LENCOM pathway specifically for Registered Nurses who want to pursue a career as a pharmacist. Nurses can leverage their direct care experience into the pharmacy profession. This online program allows RNs to continue to practice while going to pharmacy school.
11. There are Other Jobs Related to Being a Pharmacist
Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes.
Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health.
Pharmacy technicians help pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals.
Physicians and surgeons diagnose and treat injuries or illnesses.
|This wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year.|
Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients and the public about various health conditions.
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