What Type of Degree Programs Are Required for a Pharmacist?

To become pharmacists, individuals need to spend at least six years after high school in academic training to earn their Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.). People who want to become pharmacists must earn a Pharm.D. from an accredited college of pharmacy, pass several exams and earn a license in order to work in all states. Schools offering Pharmacy Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Doctor of Pharmacy Degree Program

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the only degree program required for a pharmacist is the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, (www.bls.gov). Pharm.D. programs are offered by colleges of pharmacy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Aspiring pharmacists must have at least two years of postsecondary study in order to be admitted to a Pharm.D. degree program; however, some schools require applicants to have completed a bachelor's degree. Students should have previous coursework in math, chemistry, physics and biology. The Pharmacy College Admissions Test ensures that future pharmacists meet entry requirements for a Doctor of Pharmacy degree program, reports the BLS.

Curriculum of a Pharmacy Degree

The Doctor of Pharmacy degree program teaches students about prescription drug therapy, patient care and drug information. Students also learn how to communicate and counsel patients about their medication so they can avoid dangerous drug interactions. Courses in the Pharm.D. degree program may include:

  • Foundations of pharmacy
  • Pharmacy law and ethics
  • Drugs and diseases

Pharmacist License Requirement

Once pharmacists receive their Doctor of Pharmacy degree, they must pass several tests and obtain a license. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) is the most important exam because this allows a pharmacist to earn a license to practice in every state. An aspiring pharmacist should consider researching which state she or he wishes to begin a career in because each state may have different requirements and additional exams.

Pharmacist Career Duties

Pharmacists dispense prescriptions to patients based on their doctor's order. They can answer any questions patients may have about over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications, such as dosage quantities and possible side effects. Many work in retail drug stores, hospitals and community clinics. Pharmacists work 40 hours a week and spend most of their day on their feet.

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