Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a pharmacist? As with many careers, the path to becoming a pharmacist involves education, training, and experience. But don’t let that scare you! There are lots of ways to get the knowledge you need and get started on your career as a pharmacist.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Pharmacist?
Becoming a pharmacist is a long process. It can take anywhere from four to six years and includes two years of pharmacy school, one year of internship, and one year of residency. After all this training, you’ll need to pass the licensure exam given by the state board of pharmacy.
Becoming a pharmacist without going through college or pharmacy school is possible, although it is not a traditional or commonly pursued path. Some of the ways are:
- Become an intern pharmacist right after high school or community college (usually lasts two years). You will still have to pass the licensure exam to practice on your own though.
- Work for an established chain store like Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy for about five years before being promoted into management positions such as assistant manager and supervisor.
Steps to become a Pharmacist
1. Earn an undergraduate degree in pharmacy.
Earning an undergraduate degree in pharmacy is the first step to becoming a pharmacist. This type of degree program typically takes four years to complete and provides students with a solid foundation in the natural and social sciences, as well as the basic principles of pharmacy. Students will learn about the properties and effects of drugs, drug interactions, and the appropriate use of medication. They will also gain an understanding of the basic principles of biology, chemistry, and physics, as well as the social and behavioral sciences. Additionally, students will learn how to communicate effectively with patients and other healthcare professionals, and how to work as part of a healthcare team. These skills and knowledge will be essential for students who wish to continue to a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) program.
Many schools around the country offer this type of program, but some states have stricter requirements than others. If you’re interested in becoming a pharmacist, you need to check with your state board of pharmacy and see what they require before making any decisions about college or career paths.
2. Pass The Naplex And MPJE Exams
You’ll need to pass both the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). The NAPLEX is a three-hour test that covers five subjects: chemistry, pharmacology, medical ethics, pharmacy law, and communication skills. You must pass this test before you can become licensed as a pharmacist. The MPJE is a two-hour test that covers all of the same topics covered by the NAPLEX. It’s important to note that not all states require the MPJE. You’ll need to check with your state board of pharmacy and see what they require before making any decisions about college or career paths. The NAPLEX is a three-hour test that covers five subjects: chemistry, pharmacology, medical ethics, pharmacy law, and communication skills. You must pass this test before you can become licensed as a pharmacist.
3. Apply for your license
Applying for a pharmacist license is the final step in becoming a licensed pharmacist. After completing a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) program and passing the necessary exams, candidates are eligible to apply for licensure in their state. The process of applying for a license varies by state, but generally, candidates will be required to submit an application, pay a fee, and provide proof of passing the national licensing exams. Some states may also require additional exams or background checks. The candidate should be aware of the specific requirements of the state board of pharmacy, where they want to apply for the license.
It’s important to note that licensure is mandatory for practicing as a pharmacist, and it must be renewed periodically, usually on an annual or biennial basis. Failure to maintain an active license can result in disciplinary action and may result in the revocation of a pharmacist’s license. Therefore, it’s important for pharmacists to stay informed about the renewal process and to complete any continuing education requirements needed to maintain their licenses.
Complete continuing education
Pharmacists are required to renew their licenses periodically to continue practicing. The specific requirements for renewal vary by state, but in general, pharmacists must complete continuing education (CE) courses to maintain their licenses. The purpose of CE is to ensure that pharmacists are up-to-date on the latest advances in their field and can provide the highest level of care to their patients. CE can take many forms, including online courses, live seminars, and self-study programs.
Skills a pharmacist needs
- Customer service skills are a must, as you will be dealing with many customers every day. You will also need strong problem-solving skills and communication skills since you will often be working with doctors and other medical staff to solve any issues that arise in your pharmacy.
- Problem-solving skills are also important since you will often have to find solutions and workarounds for problems that arise. You will need strong organizational skills, as well as the ability to multitask to keep up with your many responsibilities.
- Organizational skills are also important since you will need to keep track of all the different medications that come into your pharmacy. You will have a lot of responsibilities, so you must be able to manage your time well and be organized to get everything done on time.
- Teamwork skills are also important since you will often be working with other pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. You will need to work well with others to help your customers find the right medications as quickly as possible.
- Communication skills, both written and verbal, are also important because you will be communicating with customers and other members of your pharmacy staff. It can be a good idea to take a course on how to write clearly and effectively, as well as how to give clear instructions to help others understand what needs to be done.
- Mathematical problem-solving ability is also an important skill, as you will often be working with numbers in your job. You will need to know how to handle basic math problems and understand the importance of accuracy when it comes to calculating dosages and other measurements.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, becoming a pharmacist requires a significant investment of time and effort. It starts with obtaining a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy or a related field, followed by completing a four-year Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) program. After graduation, candidates must pass a national licensing exam and meet the requirements for licensure in the state in which they wish to practice. Once licensed, pharmacists must stay current in the field by completing continuing education and renewing their licenses periodically. The field of pharmacy is constantly evolving and requires a dedication to lifelong learning. However, the rewards of a career in pharmacy are many, including the satisfaction of helping people achieve and maintain good health.