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How to become a pharmacist (grad school, take tests, become certified etc.)

The general process of becoming a pharmacist. #pharmacy

Thank you comment icon I am graduating from pharmacy school this May, my process for becoming a pharmacist was that I first started out as a technician to see if that was a career I wanted to pursue. I looked at the pre-reqs for schools and the majority followed a biochemistry degree so I chose a biochem major and began the pre-reqs and took the PCAT for admission into pharmacy school. During school we become immunization certified as well as obtaining our intern license after our first year Aj

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Subject: Career question for you

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Vincent’s Answer

It depends on the state's requirements (so visit your state's Board of Pharmacy website). In general, you would need to graduate from a college of pharmacy with an accredited Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy (BS) or Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) degree. The curriculum would take about 4-6 years to complete. There would also be a number of hours required in completing an internship (this would be a part of the curriculum). Lastly, you must pass a licensure examination given by the state's Board of Pharmacy (subjects include chemistry, mathematics, pharmacy, pharmacology, pharmacy practices, and pharmacy law).
First, apply to pharmacy schools through PharmCAS. Choose your schools, upload your resume/CV, references, and other supporting documents. Follow closely to instructions, due dates, and interview dates when accepted.
Continuing education is required to renew your license every 2 years.
Thank you for your interests

Vincent recommends the following next steps:

Recommend: look up pre-requisite required by the pharmacy school and take those courses in undergrad
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Anthony’s Answer

Hi Taylor,

To become a licensed pharmacist in the United States, you need to earn a doctorate of pharmacy (PharmD). Which means if you choose to become a pharmacist after earning a bachelors degree it will require eight years of schooling. You may come across a few licensed pharmacists that do not have this degree. However, they either became licensed before the PharmD became necessary or from another country.
The general process is as follows:

1) Go to college at an undergraduate institution and earn your pre-requirements for pharmacy school. Each pharmacy school has their own specific pre-requirements but they are all heavy in the core sciences such as chemistry and biology. For many pharmacy schools, you do not need to earn an undergraduate bachelor degree. Therefore you can technically get into pharmacy school with only two years of undergrad. However, many students do choose to earn a bachelors degree as it will strengthen their application and prepare them better for pharmacy school. During this time it is good to also strengthen your application with extra curriculars such as work, volunteering, and school organizations.
2) Make an account on PharmCAS, this is a website that lets you apply to multiple pharmacy schools with one account without creating multiple applications. The site allows you to send out links for your letters of reference, upload official transcripts, extra curriculars, etc.
3) Register for and take the Pharmacy College Acceptance Test (PCAT), and have the score uploaded to your PharmCAS account. Usually, this test is taken towards the end of your undergrad education.
4) Apply to pharmacy schools through PharmCAS and receive interviews
5) Accept and attend pharmacy school interviews
6) Get accepted to a pharmacy school and earn a PharmD
7) Take all required licensing exams for whatever state you wish to practice in. Usually this is the NAPLEX (the national clinical pharmacy exam) and the MPJE (the state specific pharmacy law exam)
8) Apply to state board of pharmacy for your license

This is a very rough and general idea of the steps needed to become a pharmacist. This path is not set in stone. For example, some pharmacy schools have their students work through the summer and are only three years long (instead of four). Additionally, there are some pharmacy schools which merge the pre-requisites and pharmacy program together allowing their students to earn their PharmD in six-years total. Additionally, some pharmacy schools do not require the PCAT anymore.

If you are truly interested in pharmacy and are still in high school I would speak to your guidance counselor and look into some of the six year programs. However, there is a bit of a risk taken with this because it basically locks you into pharmacy at a very young age and you do not have much room to change your mind on your career path. If you choose to pursue the more standard route and attend undergrad, I would let your counselor know you are interested in pharmacy and try to learn about any pre-pharmacy organizations on campus. Organizations such as these will help you navigate through pharmacy applications and pre-requisites and also strengthen your pharmacy school application.

Here are some links that may be helpful:

Example of a pharmacy school that is three years long: https://wwwcp.umes.edu/pharmd/
Example of six year pharmacy program: https://www.stjohns.edu/academics/programs/doctor-pharmacy
List of pharmacy schools with optional PCAT requirement: https://www.pharmcas.org/school-directory/explore-and-compare/pcat-and-other-tests
Online PharmD: https://info.online.butler.edu/online-doctor-pharmacy/?utm_source=bu_cphs_pharmd_google_search_prospect&utm_medium=paid_search&utm_campaign=15987447561&utm_content=138293104451&utm_term=online%20pharmd&gclid=CjwKCAiAjoeRBhAJEiwAYY3nDAGm1Ucl0I0B33W3At_wxI4NxksFVcNjLKdoZ4-r0Zi0JUK8NzeUNxoCeCcQAvD_BwE

Best of luck,
Anthony

Anthony recommends the following next steps:

Become familiar with PharmCAS website
Look into 6-year pharmacy programs such as St.Johns or University at Buffalo
Look into undergraduate institutions with pre-pharmacy organizations such as University of Maryland College Park
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Christiana’s Answer

Start looking around and find different schools you are interested in. Usually they have a prerequisites page or something along the lines of admission requirements for you to look at and see what classes you need to have before starting. They will also tell you if you need to take the PCAT and what score they are looking for. You can also email the admissions team of your school of interest, and you should be able to find the email information on their admissions website.
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Bryan’s Answer

2 years of college coursework (can get a bachelors degree, although not required)

Take PCAT (may still be waived due to pandemic)

4 year of pharmacy school

Optional: 1-2 years of post-doctorate training, (fellowship/residency)
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Mary Jane’s Answer

Hi Taylor! You've gotten some good advice here already so I wanted to share this great resource with you: https://pharmacyforme.org/
It's operated by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and will walk you through all the steps you're interested in knowing more about.
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