Working as a pharmacist is one best jobs in America, according to "U.S. News & World Report." The position also got high praise from "Forbes," which ranked it the No. 1 paying job for women in 2012. Pharmacists are in demand even during tough economic times, and job seekers can expect high salaries even for entry-level positions. Pharmacists typically give out prescription medicines and offer advice on the medicine’s safe use to patients, but they also might specialize in settings outside of retail. Clinical pharmacists, for example, focus on direct patient care, and consultant pharmacists give advice to insurance companies or health care facilities
To qualify as a pharmacist, completing the Doctor of Pharmacy degree is your primary goal. The program is typically a four-year program, although you might be able to select a three-year option at some schools. Courses you’ll take include biology, anatomy, chemistry, medical ethics and pharmacology. You’ll then need to obtain a license from your state’s licensing board. To get your licenses you’ll need to pass exams that test your expertise in pharmacy, as well as your knowledge of pharmacy laws. If you plan to specialize in research or clinical practice, you’ll also need to attend a postgraduate residency program or fellowship.
Choosing the best work environment will set the tone for the nature of your job as a pharmacist. So, it must be one of your career goals. This involves deciding where you want to work. For example, if you want to work in the retail industry, then include working for a pharmacy in your objectives. If you find drug manufacturing and research interesting, pharmaceutical companies might be good matches. If you want direct interaction with patients, you can work as a clinical or consultant pharmacist in hospitals or clinics. A career in an academic setting will suit you if you enjoy teaching others.
Gaining solid experience will help move your career forward. Don’t take volunteer or part-time work experience for granted. Employers prefer applicants with relevant experience because they acquire knowledge, abilities and skills pertinent to their professional career. Although some schools don’t require an internship, pharmacy students can seek opportunities as a volunteer, pharmacy assistant or pharmacy technician. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers the Pharmacy Student Experiential Program. It’s a volunteer program with a goal of exposing students to FDA issues concerning drugs and medical devices in public health. To apply for this program, you’ll need to submit a resume along with a paper describing how the program will help you with your career goals.
Skills and Abilities
Like any other job, the opportunity to apply abilities and skills relevant to the position is an important career goal. For example, excellent memorization skills is crucial, because you need to know information about all kinds of drugs, including their generic name, brand name and side effects. Attention to detail is another important characteristic, because you need to be accurate when choosing the right drug and giving dosage. You might need to manage others, so supervisory skills will come in handy. Your ability to communicate and work well with other people is also significant to the position, because you have to interact with doctors, other pharmacists, health care staff and patients every day.
- U.S. News & World Report: Pharmacist
- Forbes: The 20 Best-Paying Jobs For Women In 2012
- University of Florida: How to Become a Pharmacist
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Pharmacist
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: FDA Pharmacy Student Experiential Program
- Bellevue College: Can Pharmacy Students Get an Internship?
- Human Resources Skills Development Canada: Essential Skills - Pharmacist
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images