Monday, February 11, 2013

Careers in Pharmacy

Have you thought about becoming a pharmacist? Here are some facts you may or may not know:

There are different kinds of pharmacists, including....

Academic Pharmacists - These are instructors in the field of Pharmacy Science.

Armed Services - These are people serving in the military as pharmacists, who may work with injured or ill servicemen and women, or may work on research of biological terrorism.

Industry - These are pharmacists who are sales reps for drug manufacturers. They usually travel to clinics and hospitals to let them know of new products available to treat their patients. If your doctor has ever given you a sample of a drug to try, it most likely came from a pharmacy sales rep.

Science/Research Pharmacists - these are the people who develop new drugs, including finding drugs to target a specific condition and testing them to be sure they are safe, and what side effects they produce.

The most common kind of pharmacist, however, is called a Community Pharmacist, because he or she works right in your community at local drug stores and the pharmacy department of stores like Target, Walmart, Cub, etc.

Coursework to become a pharmacist will include biology, chemistry, anatomy & physiology, biochemistry, ethics, physics, natural science, math, and business administration, as well as social sciences and humanities.

All pharmacists must complete a Pharm.D., or Doctor of Pharmacy, degree. This includes two years or more of undergraduate work plus another 4 years of professional pharmacy study. Before you can start work as a pharmacist, frequently you will complete an internship for 1 or 2 years, although it is not always required. You must pass the NAPLEX test, which certifies that you are capable to be a pharmacist and tests your scientific knowledge, and the MPJE, which certifies that you know the legal aspects of being a pharmacist.  You must pass these two exams before you become certified.

What kind of pharmacist do you want to be? Do you want to do research? Sales? Work in the Armed Forces? Do you want to work with pure science or with people?

A successful pharmacist working in local drug stores has been entrusted with a highly responsible role. He or she will enjoy working with people, from doctors and nurses to patients who have come in to consult or have a prescription filled. A pharmacist must 'catch' a situation where a drug has been prescribed that won't work with, or may be harmful, when taken with a patient's other prescriptions.

You need to be comfortable with technology and business practices, and be aware that you may work any time in a pharmacy that is open 24 hours a day. You will also be interacting with Pharmacy Technicians who assist you in running the pharmacy, as well as security (keeping all medications under lock and key-safeguarding against theft), awareness of drug abuse and fraud, planning your supplies so as to not run out of stocked medications as well as making sure they are being stored properly, and emergency situations. Since you will be more available than many doctors, patients will often ask you about a drug or a treatment; you have to retain a vast amount of information on many different drugs and how they work. On a given day, you may be asked questions about diabetes, wound care, depression medications, cold relief, acid reflux, vitamins, or high blood pressure.

You will also need to stay on top of all the new drugs being produced: how they work, what they are used for, and any side effects.

If you are highly interested in chemistry and biology, how the body reacts to drug treatments, and the well-being of people as a whole, and if you take an interest in people who come to you for information about their prescriptions, you might make a great pharmacist.

Here is a website that answers lots of questions you might have: http://www.aacp.org/resources/studentaffairspersonnel/admissionsguidelines/Documents/studentbrochure2.pdf

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