Earning a license to be a pharmacist is an academic adventure.
Like a medical degree, the pathway takes years of academic planning, dedication to producing outstanding academic results.
The steps below will help to smooth your road toward a pharmacy profession. That statement is being made because, after 23 years in academia, these have repeatedly been the best shortcuts to creating professional success stories.
#1. Analyze Your Compatibility with the Pharmacy Profession
The following section suggests some easy solutions to the complex question of investing a significant amount of time and money it what seems, at this time, to be the right career path. If you follow these four steps, you will have a great deal of insight into your personality, your career interests, your level of drive, and where success is most likely to be yours. Just like building a house, investing time here creates a firm foundation in career planning for a solid outcome after your education is completed. After time and money are both gone is not the time to realize you dislike the career choice you made years before.
a. Identify Your Personality: There is an assessment called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment. The Myers-Briggs has helped many people to understand where he or she is categorized within sixteen unique personality types.1 Verify that sorting pills accurately, following orders, and interacting with sick people is what you will enjoy doing every day.
b. Personality Career Guidance: The Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory is an amazing way to make certain your personality and your career interests are a good match.2 This assessment takes the answers to questions of people in certain professions tend to give universally. Then the tool matches those with your replies to the exact same questions. The idea is to see what professions would be a good choice for you and compare that with what you are thinking you would enjoy.
c. Personality Stability/Instability: Dr. Raymond B. Cattell3 was the author of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (commonly know as the MMPI).4 a The MMPI is a well-regarded personality assessment. It is the most often used in personality tests of mental health; said to be the gold standard in personality analysis. Corporations who want to extract a clear picture of a potential employee’s expected behaviors often use it during pre-employment assessment testing; you can use it to better understand yourself as a professional pharmacist before investing your time and money, a kind of pre-assessment.
d. Pharmacy Specific Evaluation: The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has created an Evaluation Program for Pharmacy Professionals. It is a program to help you identify what career path in pharmacy, a narrow specialty, is best suited to your interests and personality.
e. Critical Look at Degrees: Working on your own, or with a college counselor, evaluate your high school coursework and undergraduate college classes to have a “comprehensive and balanced” history of completed courses in math and science that will compliment your goal of being a professional pharmacist.
#2. Locate and Evaluate Pharmacy Schools
According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), pharmacy schools require two years of pre-professional coursework and four years of professional coursework. This results in a Pharm. D. (Doctor of Pharmacy). Most students attend 2-4 years of college before entering a pharmacy school. However, “0-6” programs take students directly from high school (there are only nine of such approved US programs). There are 12 accelerated (three year) programs in US pharmacy schools.
About 67% of all pharmacy schools use the same application.6 Check out the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS)7 for insight into what is asked of you before you start analyzing what you want to know about each school.
About 100 countries around the globe offer pharmacy studies at the college level.8 Some countries do not use licensed pharmacists, but obviously that is not the worldwide norm nor is it safe for the buyers of medicines. However, if you are planning to relocate to a foreign country after graduation, it is smart to check out their laws early in your planning for an education.
Here are some questions to ask:
1. Considering my social class, culture, heritage, religion, and/or family financial status, how do others with my background rate in enrollment to attrition percentages (one year, two years, graduation, post grad)?
2. Taking into account my social class, culture, heritage, religion, mental or physical abilities/disabilities, and/or family financial status, will I likely find other likeminded students for sharing housing, participating in study groups, gathered in cultural centers, or with similar backgrounds for networking?
3. What types of job placement programs are in place? How is job placement calculated?
4. How successful are alumni who have attributes in common with my social class, culture, heritage, religion, and/or family financial status?
5. How many students transfer out after one year (other years)?
6. How are transfer credits calculated? What criterion voids them?
7. Can students take a CLEP Test or other assessment to override taking a class?
8. What percentages of classes are taught online?
9. How many classes do part-time contract employees teach? What percentages of first year classes are actually taught by full professors?
10. I am certain that you are examining grades for what percentage of A’s, B’s, etc.; I want that information.
11. ESL (English as a Second Language) college students need to know the average number of pages of reading and writing to be covered daily and if there is any tutoring help for ESL students. The same is true of any student with a disability that makes learning difficult.
#3. Apply to the Best Pharmacy School for You
A total of 97 countries offer training in pharmacy. In the USA, there are 117 pharmacy schools in 49 states.9 In Canada, there are ten colleges of pharmacy across the provinces.10 There are a wide variety of options where students can apply inside and outside their home state or province. The majority of pharmacy schools are a college within a large university. Therefore, most of them are four-year programs. There is always the option to go to junior college for two years, pay les tuition and excel academically, and then apply for the last two years at a four-year program later.
In this modern society, poor teachers and poorly performing universities are not “making the cut.” Any student who does not end up in a school they like probably did not do a good job researching online blogs and other reviews of schools and individual professors. Like developing maturity, the quality of your education and your academic success will be a matter of your own self-advocacy. Do not just look at tuition and fees costs (which are higher at private four-year collages), concentrate on your individual rating of value for the price.
#4. Graduate into the Pharmacy Profession
Complete your program by living with Aunt Sally, volunteering at a local veterinary supply place, working at McDonalds part time, riding a bike as your only transportation, or anything else it takes to keep your eye on the goal.
#5. Pass Your State License Requirements
This area is appropriate to new graduates, and foreign pharmacists relocating to the USA.7 It may also be appropriate to other countries. There are often national and local tests that have to be passed. Be sure to not wait and be surprised at the time you start looking for a job. There are nearly always study guides to make the effort of taking a test easier, if for no other reason to explain how the test is laid out. Saving ten minutes in a classroom can make a world of difference come test day.
#6 Find a Job
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has an online service to help you locate a specific job as well as continuing education to keep your license current. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) also provides similar services.
Pharmacists assist the community by providing advice and information on pharmaceutical and health matters. The pharmacist dispenses medication and associated and may refer patients to other health professionals, as necessary. Due to the widespread of computer services the pharmacy practice is now in a position to provide spend a greater amount of time assisting patients, monitoring and maintaining patient records. Patients are more able to depend on the pharmacist for health care and information resource of the highest order.
1. Keirsey, David and Marilyn Bates, 1984. Please Understand Me – Character and Temperament Types. Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, Del Mar, CA. http://www.myersbriggs.org/
We hope this article provides an insight in considering Pharmacy schools and pharmacy as a worthwhile and in demand career in the medical field.