Pharmacy is a fascinating and worthwhile career. The role of the pharmacist requires a broad depth of knowledge regarding drugs – how they interact with each other, react in humans and the chemistry involved. A pharmacist will also be adept at measuring and packaging medicines ensuring it is ready to safely be administered to patients.
A pharmacist is very often responsible for educating patients about their drug regime – how to take the medication, what reactions or problems may be expected. Pharmacists are medical professionals responsible for dispensing drugs according to prescriptions issued by clinicians.
Pharmacists are highly trained and if you have decided you would like to be a pharmacist then you must be prepared for some hard work which will nevertheless provide you with a satisfying and successful career.
Education and training
In order to be a pharmacist students are expected to graduate with a doctorate of pharmacy.
- Completion of two years undergraduate work with a passing score on the Pharmacy college admission test – coursework to included chemistry, physics, anatomy, physiology, biology.
- Four year pharmacy program at college
- Completion of rotations in both pharmaceutical and clinical settings – average requirement being 7 to 10 rotations each of 4 to 6 weeks duration.
Although most pharmacists will complete a total of eight years in college it is possible, if you know early in your college career that you want to be a pharmacist, to graduate within six years.
Although at least six years, or longer, may appear to be a long time for attainment of the necessary qualifications to be a pharmacist it is not without its advantages, particularly with regard to salary.
- Signing bonuses upon accepting a position can reach $15,000 but will tie you to one job for as long as 3 years.
- Average annual salary $99,000
- Average hourly rate for temporarily contracted pharmacists $50 – $60 an hour – with a full schedule this would generate an annual salary of over $100,000
Demand for good, highly skilled pharmacists is high as is the pay scale. This means that if you decide to be a pharmacist you can look forward to job security and stability plus job availability in more or less which ever nationwide location you prefer.
However, on the downside, it is unlikely that once you do become a pharmacist your annual salary and job description will most likely remain the same – you may well be earning the same salary after fifteen years in the job as you were when you first started out. It should also be remembered that to be a pharmacist is to take on a stressful and responsible role in medicine – there is a relatively high rate of burn out due to stress within this discipline. Pharmaceutical work can be repetitive and exhausting – whilst not undertaking physical work you are likely to be stood on your feet for much of the day. In light of the devastating effect a single error can have on both patients and your own career it is essential that a pharmacist is meticulous in work practices and maintains clean licensure.
Whilst salaries in the field of pharmacy may be very similar there is a wide variety of work available – whether in the retail sector, hospitals, long term care facilities, industry and commerce – this means that if you decide to be a pharmacist there will most likely be a job which suits you perfectly.