Today is the last day of American Pharmacists Month. This month, we’ve heard from two Oakwood alumnae who currently work in two very different sectors of the pharmacy industry. Today, we’ll provide some tips and tricks of how YOU too can pursue a career as a pharmacist.
VERY DIVERSE FIELD. Like Dr. Fowler and Dr. Aurubin stated, being a pharmacist is sooooo much more than pill counting and dispensing. Pharmacists have the unique opportunity to administer vital patient care to those who may not be able to see his / her physician. They work one on one with physicians in both public and private hospitals to ensure that inpatient and outpatient prescriptions are accurately dosed. They also:
- monitor the health and progress of patients in response to drug therapy;
- advise patients and answer questions about prescription drugs, including questions about possible side effects and interactions among different drugs;
- provide information and make recommendations about over-the-counter drugs;
GREAT PAY. Starting salary for a pharmacist who has completed 4 years of pharmacy school and has passed the National American Pharmacists Licensure Exam is $106,410
NO RESIDENCY (UNLESS YOU WANT TO DO ONE). Yes, there is a pharmacy residency; but unlike medicine where residency is a required part of your training; residency for pharmacists is optional. Pharmacy residency is a 1 or 2 year training after pharmacy school that a licensed pharmacist can pursue to gain further experience, and enhance one’s skills as a pharmacist in a semi-protected / preceptored environment. Those who do a 2 year residency will gain additional skills in a specialized area like – hematology, infectious disease, pain management, etc. One source estimated that approximately 20 % of pharmacy school graduates go on to do a residency.
For more info on pharmacy residency check A Day in the Life of a Pharmacy Resident
Or this link for some general information about residency for licensed pharmacists.
HOW TO MAKE THIS DREAM A REALITY FOR YOU.
1. Get the best grades possible. This goes without saying. Pharmacy school is rigorous, so just like with medicine and dentistry you want to prove to admissions committees that you can handle the academic pressure. The best way to do that is to get good grades in your undergraduate / pre-pharmacy classes. You don’t need a 4.0 to get in, but to improve your chances, keep your science grades at a B or better.
2. Do your research. Learn all you can about the field to make sure it’s the best fit for you. Try and meet local pharmacists or current pharmacy students and ask their advice. You’d be surprised who’s willing to be an unofficial mentor. Try and set up an opportunity to shadow a pharmacist – either at a local pharmacy or in the hospital setting. It may not be as hard as you think.
3. Know the requirements. Most schools require a personal statement, passing the PCAT, letters of recommendation / committee letter, successful completion of general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, anatomy and physiology, genetics, microbiology and physics.
See below for a full list of pharmacy school application requirements by institution http://www.aacp.org/resources/student/pharmacyforyou/admissions/Documents/PSAR-1213_narratives.p
4. Plan wisely. Plan your academic schedule and know the important deadlines. When is the PCAT offered, how many times a year? What are the typical dates and will you have all your pre-req’s done in time to take the test? When does the pharmacy school application become available / and what’s the deadline for the schools you are interested in? Does the school participate in PharmCAS and planning your schedule accordingly.
5. Study for and do well on the PCAT. The PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) ,is the pharmacy school equivalent to the MCAT. It is required by approximately 2/3 of American Pharmacy Schools. It has seven sections that include reading comprehension, quantitative ability, chemistry, written essay, verbal ability, and biology.
Important Websites to Know
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy http://www.aacp.org/Pages/Default.aspx
PCAT information http://www.pearsonassessments.com/haiweb/Cultures/en-US/site/Community/PostSecondary/Products/pcat/pcathome.htm