What Pharmacists do:
Would you like a career that involves an exciting combination of science, business, direct patient contact, and health care? Pharmacists are essential health care providers who work in hospitals, retail stores, pharmaceutical wholesalers, internet pharmacies, government agencies and physician’s offices providing patient care by preparing and dispensing medication, and assessing and providing healthcare information. Pharmacists may delegate prescription-filling duties to pharmacy technicians, but they are responsible for the accuracy of every prescription that is filled. Pharmacists also educate consumers and patients on the use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, and offer specialist information to physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals about dosages and the chemical, biological, and physical make-up of drugs. Today the role of pharmacists is rapidly changing as they are becoming more involved in setting up medicine treatment programs and counseling patients.
The main duties of a Pharmacist include:
Education & Licensing:
Pharmacists must attain a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree which is awarded after completing at least 2 – 3 years of undergraduate study followed by 3 – 4 years of pharmacy school. Pharm.D subjects include Human Anatomy and Physiology, Medicinal Biochemistry, Pharmaceutics, Remedial Mathematics/ Biology and Medicinal Chemistry. A one year work placement is included.
Upon completion of a Pharm.D. pharmacists are then eligible to sit the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) which is required by all 50 states. The NAPLEX is a 185 question computer-based test available online, it forms part of an assessment that measures a candidate’s knowledge of the practice of pharmacy before they can enter into practice. Most states also require pharmacists to pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) which is also administered by NABP. The MPJE is a test of pharmacy law, the states that do not require this exam have their own pharmacy law exams.
In Canada requirements for pharmacists vary across provinces but usually include a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Pharmacy from an accredited university, and a practical apprenticeship / internship program. This qualifies individuals to take the national certification exam by the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada.
Salary & Job Prospects:
Licensed pharmacists can expect to earn salaries between $80,000 and $130,000 per year. Self employed pharmacists who own their own store can earn more. Given the increasing number of drugs and an aging population in the U.S., the job outlook for pharmacists is excellent.
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