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How to Become a Pharmacist

How to Become a Pharmacist
First professional degree

Pharmacists must pay close attention to detail in order to ensure the prescriptions they fill are accurate. Pharmacists earn their Pharm.D or Doctor of Pharmacy from an accredited pharmacy program. They must pass law and licensing exams to become licensed.

Education & Training

A postgraduate professional degree known as a Pharm.D or Doctor of Pharmacy is required. Different programs require certain admission requirements. All Doctor of Pharmacy programs need applicants to complete postsecondary training in anatomy, biology and chemistry. The majority of these programs require a minimum of 2 years of undergraduate study; however, a bachelor's degree is required by certain schools. These programs often require applicants to take the PCAT or Pharmacy College Admissions Test.

The majority of Pharm. D. programs take 4 years to complete. There are some 3 year options available through certain programs. Certain schools accept high school graduates for a special 6 year program.

Courses in medical ethics, pharmacology and chemistry are included in Pharm.D. studies. Students must finish related work experience in a supervised setting. These internships can be completed in a variety of settings including retail pharmacies and hospitals.

Many pharmacists prefer to own their own pharmacy. They may choose to obtain a secondary degree in public health or their MBA or master's degree in business administration to help them prepare.


Once they have graduated from a Pharm.D. program; pharmacists who are seeking an advanced position such as a research or clinical pharmacy job may have to finish a residency program of 1 to 2 years. Those who finish the 2 year residency option often receive extra training in a specialty setting such as geriatric care or internal medicine.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

In order to obtain a license once the Pharm.D. program is complete, two exams must be passed. The MPJE or Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam is a state specific test focusing on pharmacy law. The NAPLEX or North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam tests knowledge and pharmacy skills.

Certain individuals may wish to obtain specific certification to showcase their advanced knowledge within a particular area. Pharmacists may earn certification in oncology or nutrition from the Board of Pharmacy Specialties or opt to become a Certified Diabetes Educator with qualification from the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators. There are specific work experience requirements to fulfill these certifications, along with paying a fee and passing an exam.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Analytical skills: Pharmacists need to evaluate the needs of their patient, have comprehensive knowledge regarding the correct circumstances for fulfilling specific medication, be knowledgeable regarding potential side effects and comprehend the prescriber's orders in order to safely provide medications.

Communication skills: Offering patients advice on a regular basis is a vital part of this job. Having the ability to explain how to take medicine effectively and what potential side effects to look for is important. Clear communication with interns and pharmacy technicians is additionally required.

Computer skills: Pharmacists rely on computer skills to utilize EHR or electronic health record systems within their organization.

Detail oriented: Since improper medication usage can lead to death or serious health concerns, pharmacists are responsible for ensuring their prescriptions are filled accurately. They must be able to locate the information they require in order to decide which medication is best for each individual.

Managerial skills: Individuals who run a retail pharmacy need to be able to manage staff and inventory in order to be successful.