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How to become a Pharmacist
All US states require licensure for a pharmacist. Prior to licensure, a pharmacist must graduate from an accredited school with a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D. degree and obtain a passing grade on several certifying examinations.
Only a school of pharmacy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) can grant a Pharm D. In order to gain admittance to an accredited school of pharmacy, a prospective pharmacist must complete at least two years of post-secondary education, with course work in biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, humanities and social sciences. Most accredited schools require an applicant to pass the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).
Schools of pharmacy teach students about drug therapy, communication skills, professional ethics and public health concepts. Students spend about one quarter of all time working in a variety of pharmacy settings, which are supervised by licensed pharmacists.
Schools of pharmacy can award a Ph.D or Master of Science degree, for those students wanting additional experience to the Pharm D. A prospective pharmacist can only obtain these advanced degrees after first obtaining the Pharm D. Pharmacists with a PhD or Master of Science typically work in research pharmacy rather than retail pharmacy. Other options for those wanting more advanced study include a residency program, which frequently involves a research project.
After receiving a Pharm D, the prospective pharmacist must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). While all 50 states, the District of Columbia and US territories require a prospective pharmacist to pass the NAPLEX, forty-four states and the District of Columbia also require a pharmacist to have passed the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). While the NAPLEX tests pharmacy skills and knowledge, the MPJE tests knowledge of pharmacy law. States that do not require the MPJE have their own test of pharmacy law, which must be passed in order to practice in those states. Some states require even more testing. All states, with the exception of California, will accept pharmacist licenses from other states.
What does a Pharmacist do?
A pharmacist distributes prescribed drugs to patients. They also educate their customers and doctors about drug interactions, dosages and the side effects of medications. Contemporary pharmacists almost never make drugs on the premises, but rather purchase standardized products made by pharmaceutical companies.
Most pharmacists work in a community setting, such as a hospital dispensary, retail store, nursing home or neighborhood clinic. Some have to work weekends and at night, to accommodate customers. While most pharmacists work a 40hour week, about 10% work 50hours or more. In 2006 around 16% worked part-time.
Pharmacists must wear masks and gloves to prevent contamination of pharmaceutical material and to prevent accidental exposure...