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How do you become a pharmacist?

I just want to know the basics, for example what high school courses could help and how long would I spend in college.

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JYOTHY’s Answer

To become a pharmacist, you typically need to complete the following steps:

Complete high school: As a high school student, it's recommended that you take courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and math to prepare for a career in pharmacy.

Earn a Bachelor's degree (optional): While it's not always required, many students choose to earn a Bachelor's degree in a related field, such as biology or chemistry, before applying to pharmacy school. This can help improve your chances of getting accepted into a program.

Attend pharmacy school: To become a pharmacist, you must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from an accredited pharmacy school. This typically takes four years to complete.

Complete a residency (optional): After earning your PharmD, you may choose to complete a residency program to gain additional training and experience in a specific area of pharmacy practice.

Pass licensure exams: In order to practice as a pharmacist, you must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and a state-specific exam.

Overall, the process of becoming a pharmacist can take anywhere from six to eight years, depending on whether or not you choose to earn a Bachelor's degree and complete a residency program. It's important to research and apply to accredited pharmacy schools, and to maintain a strong academic record throughout your education. Additionally, gaining experience in a pharmacy setting, such as through internships or volunteering, can also be helpful in preparing for a career in pharmacy
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Alexis’s Answer

It’s a 4 year program after you’ve completed prerequisite courses (which usually take 3-4 years to complete). Some colleges offer an accelerated 6 year program too.

I suggest getting a technician job after HS to get some exposure and experience in the industry before/during college. It varies by state, but in my state companies have training programs where you can earn your state license and national certificate through your employer, just need a HS diploma and pass background checks. It will help you get familiar with medications, billing, customer service, day-to-day operations, etc.
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Anna’s Answer

Hi Michaela,

Depending on which classes your high school offers I would try to take AP biology and chemistry and if you have room for electives anatomy and physiology. If you only have room to prioritize one I would say anatomy and physiology (usually will be one course in high school but can be split into two and will likely be split in college). Anatomy and physiology will give you a great base knowledge for pharmacy school but also for any other health profession! It was also my favorite course I’ve taken(:

Most pharmacy programs are 4 years of pharmacy school after receiving a bachelors degree (this is what I did). Some people are accepted once pharmacy school prerequisite courses are met (these vary slightly with different programs) and before completing their degree but I wouldn’t recommend this in case you change your mind about your career since you’ll always have your bachelors degree rather than having to go back and finish it. A lot of my pharmacy school classmates were biochemistry majors but as long as you complete your prerequisites you can have any major that interests you but healthcare/science majors will have more overlap and need to take fewer courses for both their degree and prerequisites.

An alternative option (and also very common) is a 6 year accelerated program. You get accepted to out of high school and there are two years of pharmacy school prerequisite courses then four years of pharmacy coursework. My program was a 4 year so I’m not able to speak extensively on this path but it is a great option if you grew up around pharmacists and know for sure that’s what you want to do for a career.

Good luck with the process!
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A. Michelle’s Answer

Great question! At the high school level, focus on taking as many math and science courses as possible prepare you for college level work in these areas or potentially to opt out of these classes. High school is also a great time to learn more about the profession through career days, job shadowing, volunteering, internships or working in a pharmacy. There is not a required college major, but rather prerequisite courses. When you have completed the prerequisites, you can apply to a four-year pharmacy program. (Some schools have accelerated pharmacy programs, which you can complete in as little as six years.) After completing your Doctor of Pharmacy degree, you can do a residency program to get additional training in a specific area. You will need to pass licensure exams in order to practice.
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