Becoming a pharmacist takes hard work and dedication. It’s an excellent career that offers exceptional pay and benefits. Careers in the healthcare industry are booming, with more and more jobs opening up each year. Pharmacists, and other healthcare related fields provide security and stability in the job market. The time, money, and work that you put into getting your degree and becoming licensed, will pay off in the long run.
The question you may be wondering is how long is pharmacy school and how long does it take to become a pharmacist? This depends on a couple different factors. Whether or not you’re attending school full-time or part-time, and what prerequisites you have when you decide to begin your degree. For a full time student, starting after high school, the whole curriculum from general education courses to specialized courses could take 8 years to complete. 4 years to complete a bachelors degree and then 4 years of specialized pharmacy training. This is a general time frame. It could take longer, or it could be completed earlier. Factors that determine the exact length of study include how many courses you take per semester, and whether or not you are participating in an accelerated program. Also, any advanced level courses that you took for college credit while still in high school, especially in the science or math fields, can minimally speed up the length of time it takes to complete basic education college courses. It is not uncommon for someone to complete an undergraduate bachelors degree in 3 years.
It is strongly recommended that you base your undergraduate course work around math and science courses. This will be very important in determining how smoothly you can transition into graduate school and specialized pharmacy training programs. Courses such as high level chemistry, biology, physics, and calculus will go a log way to opening up your options when you begin applying to graduate schools. You will need to complete a Bachelors of Science (BS) from a 4 year accredited University before you can apply to a specialized pharmacy school to begin working on your doctorate degree.
Some pharmacy schools require you to take a specialized test called the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test) which measures ability and scientific knowledge. It’s best to find out ahead of time, while you’re still an undergraduate, if the school you plan on applying to requires this test. There’s preparatory classes, tutors, and handbooks that are designed to prepare you for the PCAT that you can take advantage of if you allow yourself enough time.
You graduated from college and if necessary, you have taken your PCAT. The next big step of your college career is to go to graduate school and get your Doctorate’s degree. A doctorate’s degree is the highest academic degree. Doctorate’s degrees are awarded in many different subjects. For the purpose of a pharmacy degree, you’re doctorate will be a Doctor Of Pharmacy degree, also known as a Pharm.D. In order to obtain a Pharm.D., you must complete a number of high level pharmacy and medicine related courses. Some courses may include Medicinal Chemistry, Pathophysiology, Pharmacy Ethics/Law, Disease Treatments, and many other courses specializing in pharmaceutical studies. You will study how the body interacts with drugs, and you will learn how pharmacies operate and learn the business and management side of it as well. The complete curriculum will generally take 4 years to complete, but can be shortened if you enter an accelerated program.
While in school, you may also be required to take on internships or guided hands on training under a licensed pharmacist. This will be a great opportunity to get some useful experience in all aspects of the career.
The big finish! You have now completed you Doctor Of Pharmacy Degree. What’s next? This is the point in time where you probably will want to start looking into career options. First, though, you need to be licensed. It is required by law to licensed to practice pharmacy. No matter which company or medical institution to want to work for in the United States, the same rule applies. Some licenses vary by state, and you will want to check with the particular state in which you are applying to meet their requirements. Be sure to renew your license when necessary to keep it current. It’s best to avoid any gaps.
You’re now all set. It’s time to look for a job as a licensed professional pharmacist! You can choose the type of setting that you’d like to work in, whether it be a drug store, hospital, nursing home or rehabilitation centers, grocery stores, the possibilities are out there. Because medical careers are in demand today, you can go anywhere and find a job in your field.
Whether you’re just beginning to explore your academic options, or you’re in the process of completing your degree, you probably have already come to the conclusion that becoming a pharmacist is not going to happen over night. It’s going to require patience, determination, and a lot of studying. 8 years is a long time to prepare for a career, but in the end, it is well worth it.