On the surface, this seems like a pretty straightforward question. However, after going through pharmacy school, it is more involved as pharmacy school studies were far from what I expected.
An easy answer would be that pharmacists study all facets of drugs such as their usages, side effects, mechanism of action, dosages, etc. This is true as all of this knowledge is necessary for a successful pharmacist. However, learning this information was far from expected before entering pharmacy school.
Before and before entering pharmacy school, I was under the impression that chemistry was used extensively throughout pharmacy school and pharmacy. In reality, this is far from the case. Although medication chemistry course is part of a pharmacy school curriculum, chemistry is not prominent throughout schooling. Likewise, I would argue that biology isn’t even too prominent throughout pharmacy school. However, it is necessary to have a good foundation and understanding of these two subjects to understand many nuances throughout pharmacy school.
I found that most pharmacy school is taught through memorization. Although concepts help guide this memorization, no typical subject can encompass what pharmacists study. I find that pharmacists study… pharmacy. Its subject uses concepts of chemistry, biology, and many other basic sciences to teach a whole new topic of pharmacy, much like how physicists use mathematics to study physics.
1. Complete 1,500 hours of practical experience in pharmacy under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, which shall be approved by the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy.
2. Receive a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy or a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from an accredited school, college or department of pharmacy as determined by the Board
3. Passed the examinations required and approved by the South Carolina Board of Pharmacy and pay all required fees.
Pharmacists study medicines and medicinal agents—specifically, how these interact with the body (in humans and animals) to prevent and treat symptoms, illnesses, chronic conditions, and disease states. In essence, pharmacists study to become medication experts with a deep knowledge and advanced understanding of the study of drugs.
Most pharmacy school curricula include foundational courses or prerequisites in anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry, followed by core academic coursework in pharmacotherapy (therapeutics), pharmacokinetics, medicinal chemistry, compounding, non-prescription medications, precision medicine and pharmacogenomics, scientific literature analysis, drug information, pharmacoeconomics, pharmacy law, and social and administrative pharmacy.
In more progressive pharmacy school programs that have integrated interprofessional learning into their curricula, student pharmacists can learn cross-collaboratively in multidisciplinary teams alongside other health professions students, such as those in medical, nurse practitioner, veterinary, physical therapy, physician assistant, and nursing school. Notably, during the final year of pharmacy school, student pharmacists complete experiential rotations to obtain hands-on training in various practice settings.
After graduation from pharmacy school, pharmacists in the United States must pass both a national pharmacist competency exam and state pharmacy law exam to earn a pharmacist license and be able to practice as a pharmacist within that state.
You can learn more about what students study in pharmacy school within the Student Pharmacists Corner at TranspharmD (www.transpharmd.com).
Paria Sanaty Zadeh, PharmD