Clinical Pharmacist: Career and Salary Facts

Research what it takes to become a clinical pharmacist. Learn about job duties, education requirements, licensure and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Clinical Pharmacist?

Clinical pharmacists work directly with patients in healthcare settings. They may work in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other healthcare facilities. Although they may dispense some medications, their primary job is to work with a medical team to determine which medications are best for each patient. They typically go on rounds with physicians to determine the dosage and time intervals of medications for different patients. Clinical pharmacists communicate with patients to offer advice about different medications and treatments, and may even conduct some medical tests, such as checking a patient's blood sugar. These professionals must be licensed to work in this field. Learn more about this career in the table below.

Degree Required Doctor of Pharmacy
Training Required 1-2 year residency in clinical pharmacy
Licensure and Certification Licensure required in all states; optional board certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% for all pharmacists*
Median Salary (2017) $115,703 for clinical pharmacists**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale.com

What Would I Do as a Clinical Pharmacist?

As a clinical pharmacist, you would provide patients with their prescribed medications, educate them on wellness and present information on disease prevention. You would also stay abreast of new and developing medicines and treatments in order to advise patients on the use of medications from a scientific standpoint.

What Education Do I Need?

You will need a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree to be a clinical pharmacist. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) accredits Pharm.D. programs that have prerequisites like biology, chemistry and physics at the undergraduate level (www.acpe-accredit.org).

In a Pharm.D. program, you would study areas of pharmaceutics, chemistry, pharmacology and clinical pharmacy practice. These programs typically take 3-4 years to complete and prepare you to become licensed as a pharmacist. After completing your education program, clinical pharmacy positions may also require you to complete a 1- to 2-year residency.

How Can I Become Certified?

In order to work as a pharmacist, you need to be licensed. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy offers the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination, which you are eligible to take after you have completed an ACPE-accredited Pharm.D. program (www.nabp.net).

You must also take either the NABP's Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam or your state's equivalent to demonstrate your knowledge of pharmacy law. Some states have additional requirements, so you will need to check with your state's pharmacy board for specific rules and regulations. Optional board certification is also available. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties offers certifications in clinical pharmacy specialties, such as oncology and nuclear pharmacy.

What Salary Could I Earn?

PayScale.com reported in January 2017 that the median salary for clinical pharmacists was $115,703, which included bonuses and profit sharing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment for all pharmacists, including clinical pharmacists, is expected to increase by 3% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Those that have earned a Pharm.D. degree might choose to work in research and development for the pharmaceutical industry, or become consultants for insurance companies or medical facilities. Outside of pharmacy, there are several other careers in the medical field that require a doctoral or professional degree, including physicians, surgeons and medical scientists.

Physicians diagnose and treat patients of all ages and backgrounds for a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. Most physicians specialize to work with a particular demographic or part of the body. Surgeons also diagnose and treat patients, but they primarily do so through surgery. Many surgeons also specialize in a particular kind of surgery or operate on a particular part of the body. Medical scientists typically work in a laboratory setting. They conduct clinical trials and different research projects aimed to improve human health.

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