This may sound like an easy question. However, in the United States, it is not so straightforward. Since 2000, becoming a licensed pharmacist in the United States requires a doctorate of pharmacy. However, there are multiple ways to go about receiving this degree.
The most straightforward way is to receive a bachelor's degree from an undergraduate program and then apply to a pharmacy to receive a doctorate of pharmacy and become a licensed pharmacist. However, the undergraduate degree would typically take four years to complete, and most pharmacy school programs are an additional four years, totaling eight years. However, some pharmacy school programs are three years long and have students attend school through the summers.
Additionally, some pharmacy schools do not require a bachelor's degree to be admitted to their school to make matters more complicated. Therefore, it is possible for someone to complete the requirements for a pharmacy school within two years and enroll without ever receiving a four-year undergraduate degree.
There are also a few programs that combine their requirements and pharmacy school into one program allowing first-year students to enroll and become a doctor of pharmacy after six straight years.
In summary, receiving a doctorate in pharmacy generally takes eight years. However, this can be shaved down to seven years with an expedited program that has its students study throughout the summer. This can also be shaved down even further to six years if the student opts not to receive an undergraduate degree and enter pharmacy school with just the required courses. In theory, I suppose it is possible to have someone complete the two years of requirements and then enroll in a three-year pharmacy program totaling five years. However, this is exceedingly rare, and the three-year schools may require bachelor's degrees for admission.
Pharmacists work in hospitals dispensing medications for all patients in the hospital as well as rounding on the medical teams with the doctors for more direct patient care to influence medicine choices and proper dosing. They also work in local pharmacies, for pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies in managed care.
Pharmacy is also a great field for women due to flexibility with hours and ability to work part time and still make a good living if that is your choice.
I worked for more than 20 years as a clinical specialist in pediatric hematology/oncology at a children's hospital. It was very rewarding. I now work in managed care for an insurance company. It is very different but I really enjoy it. This is more of a drug information type position and reviewing prior authorizations for Medicare. But it is also very rewarding and interesting.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree or Complete a Pre-Pharmacy Program
Step 2: Obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree
Step 3: Acquire a Pharmacist License
Step 4: Consider Postgraduate Training - for additional training
Step 5: Examine Possible Work Settings - retail vs hospitals vs healthcare facilities
Visit the link below to see more in details what each step entails.
I would suggest getting a job as a Pharmacy Assistant at a local drug store's pharmacy (walmart, walgreens, CVS, etc ) to gain the experience while you are studying. It'll also give you a good perspective on the field, opportunities to ask your boss (the pharmacist) questions and advice and give you motivation in your studies.
The first step is researching pharmacy schools in your state. It would help if you considered getting a pharmacy technician job at a chain pharmacy. After that, you should complete the pre-requisites for entrance to the pharmacy. Some schools don’t have to require a bachelor’s degree, and you may be able to start after two years. Depending on your potential school options, you should consider taking the PCAT. Lastly, you apply to that school.
You can go to college to become a pharmacist. It is a very specialized profession but also very important. Most people think that you should ask a doctor about how a particular medicine will impact you. Most doctors only understand on a basic level what medicine to use as they have only a few months studying medicines. Pharmacists spend all of their time in college studying medicines. Whenever I think that I am ill, I go to a pharmacy and asked what I should ask my doctor to prescribe. Now that comes from my work experience. I worked for a pharmaceutical company and talked with pharmacists. I also had two friends that were saved from potentially harmful interactions when trying to fill a prescription, mistakes made by doctors who didn't really understand drug interactions.
It is a wonderful profession.