Those interested in a career in the healthcare industry may want to consider working as a pharmacist. Pharmacists are professionals who distribute medicine and give advice to people on dosage amounts, side effects, and other important information related to the medication they are being prescribed. Pharmacist jobs are expected to grow by three percent between 2014 and 2024, and the median annual income for this job is $121,500. In order to work as a pharmacist an individual will need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, where they will study topics such as pharmacy ethics, pharmacology, and public health.
Another career option in the pharmaceutical field is becoming a pharmacy technician. Pharmacy technicians assist pharmacists with day-to-day tasks such as preparing prescriptions, addressing client concerns, and record keeping. It is possible to find work as a pharmacy technician with only a high school diploma, however earning a certificate or associate degree can make an employee more competitive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a nine percent increase in pharmacy technician jobs between 2014 and 2014, and reports that technicians earn a median income of $30,410 a year.
Doctor of Pharmacy Degrees
The Doctor of Pharmacy is the standard degree that one must earn in order to work as a pharmacist. These professionals are the ones who use their training and expertise to provide prescriptions to foster the health and well-being of the individuals who come to them.
It usually takes at least four years to earn a a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. In order to enter one of these programs, a student must first complete certain prerequisite courses at the undergraduate level. Tuition ranges from approximately $100,000 to $160,000 depending on geographic location and other factors. The exact admission requirements vary by program, however, typically a student will complete an associate or bachelor's degree and take courses in the sciences such as biology and chemistry. Once admitted to a Doctor of Pharmacy program students will study pharmacy ethics, public health practices, pharmacology, and the best techniques for effective business management. Many students will continue on in their education to participate in internships or externships, fellowships, or residency programs to get real-world experience to prepare them for their own careers.
The Doctor of Pharmacy is not the same as a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences, which is also offered at some schools. The PhD program is meant for those who want to work in research-centered careers, while the Doctor of Pharmacy is appropriate for those who want to work as pharmacists.
Pharmacy Technician Degree Programs
Pharmacy technicians help support the daily practices of pharmacists by assisting in their preparation of prescriptions, helping out with problems and concerns that customers may bring into the office, and helping out with the daily running and on-goings of the pharmacy. When a customer enters a pharmacy, a technician is likely to be the first person that they meet with and with whom they will discuss their reasons for coming in. Pharmacy technicians need to be meticulous and have an excellent attention to detail, as they are likely to be the ones that are administering the number of pills necessary to fill prescriptions.
An individual interested in becoming a pharmacy technician can do so with only a high school diploma and training on the job. There are also certificate and associate degree training programs aspiring pharmacy technicians can enroll, which may give them an advantage when trying to get hired. These typically cost around $5,000 and take approximately 12 months to complete the 60 - 90-credit course curriculum. Upon finishing, an individual will be prepared to sit for the National certification exam. Topics of study in one of these programs will include record-keeping, pharmacological technique and standard practices, and law and ethics regarding pharmacy. It is also beneficial to take on an internship or another practical application experience as part of a pharmacy technician training program.
There are many specialties within the pharmacy profession. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties recognizes eight areas that pharmacists can achieve a concentration in and receive certification for. These specialties include:
Oncology: Cancer patients often rely on many different drugs to help them fight their illnesses. As cancer treatment is one of the most complicated and ever-changing disciplines of pharmacy, specialists in this area are in demand to help support medical professionals and advise cancer patients. They may also help monitor patients who are part of experimental drug treatments.
Nuclear Pharmacy: Nuclear pharmacy is the division of pharmacy that is related to radioactive drugs. These types of drugs are used for procedures such as PET scans or for different treatment methods for diseases like cancer. Those who specialize in nuclear pharmacy have the knowledge and skills to handle and disburse these drugs safely.
Psychiatric Pharmacy: Pharmacists who specialize in psychiatric medications explore how such drugs interact with other drugs, and help advise medical professionals who prescribe these drugs to help them properly identify those situations where the drugs will be beneficial. They are trained in the particularities of psychiatric drug side effects and treatment plans, and they are also knowledgeable about the cost of these types of drugs and how to help individuals make cost-effective choices.
Pediatric Pharmacy: Those who choose to specialize in pediatric pharmacy will gain specialized knowledge of drugs for children under the age of 18. They learn how to adjust a dosage amount for a child and what drugs are appropriate to give to children. These professionals also work to educate families on health and wellness issues affecting children.
Certification and Licensure
A pharmacist must receive a license in order to practice. Each state will have its own licensure requirements. However, all states require students to complete internship hours and to pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam. This exam covers the knowledge and skill set that a pharmacist must have in order to be successful. Aspiring pharmacists will also be required to pass either the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam or a similar exam offered by the state they live in, which will test their understanding of the law as is relates to the pharmaceutical field. There may also be additional certification requirements depending on what services a pharmacist wishes to perform or what areas they want to specialize in. For instance, if a pharmacist wishes to be qualified to give vaccines they will need to get certified in most states, and they will most likely take the Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery program test.
Pharmacy technicians also typically need to receive some type of license or certification, depending on the state that they are working in. If certification is not required by the state the technician works in they still may wish to receive it as that can give the technician an advantage when looking for a job. The Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Healthcareer Association are the two organizations that certify pharmacy technicians.
Finding an accredited program is an important factor to consider when choosing a pharmacy program to apply to. Accreditation assures a student that they are getting an education that will adequately prepare them for the workplace. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education accredits Doctor of Pharmacy programs, while the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists accredits pharmacy technician programs.