Demand for pharmacists in the United States is forecast to increase by three percent up to the year 2024. One of the reasons the demand is projected to rise is because the baby-boomer generation is aging. Typically senior citizens require more pharmaceutical prescriptions relative to younger citizens.
The rates of chronic diseases are increasing across all age groups and all these people will require prescription medicines. And as health insurance ownership and coverage improves, there will be a need for additional pharmacists to fill out prescriptions and to also provide consultancy services to these patients. All these factors and much more make pharmacy an attractive career option.
Important qualities a pharmacist must possess
Becoming a pharmacist does not only require academic excellence but also the right personal qualities and skills.
- A pharmacist needs to be detail oriented – filling the wrong prescription can have disastrous results and even endanger the life of a patient. A pharmacist must, therefore, be detail oriented to ensure they fill prescriptions accurately.
- A pharmacist needs to possess analytical skills – for every patient who needs a prescription for a certain condition, a pharmacist will need to evaluate and analyze and make the right call.
- A pharmacist needs to have good communication skills – a pharmacist is in regular contact not just with patients but also with other healthcare professionals. He or she, therefore, needs to be a clear and effective communicator.
To become a pharmacist one is required to possess a Pharm.D. degree which is a postgraduate professional qualification. To be accepted to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree program, one must have studied at an undergraduate for at least two years. Some programs may also require a bachelor’s degree. An applicant must also sit the PCAT – Pharmacy College Admissions Test.
Pharmacy College Admission Test
Roughly 85% of pharmacy schools and colleges in the United States require an applicant to have sat the PCAT. The PCAT consists of 5 subtests. These are Quantitative Reasoning, Chemical Processes, Biological Processes, Critical Reading, and Writing.
The Pharmacy College Admission Test may also contain experimental items.
Types of pharmacists
While retail pharmacists or community pharmacists may be the most common type of pharmacist members of the public interact with, there are several other types of pharmacists that someone who is aspiring to a career in this field can opt for.
- Consultant pharmacists – this type of pharmacists mainly offers their consultancy services to insurance providers and healthcare facilities. The advice they give mainly focuses on improvements that can be made to pharmacy services or on medication use by patients. Sometimes consultant pharmacists may also offer their consultancy services directly to patients.
- Pharmaceutical industry pharmacists – pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry may work in various departments. Some may be in sales and marketing while others may be working as researchers developing new drugs.
- Clinical pharmacists – clinical pharmacists work in healthcare facilities such as clinics and hospitals. Their work involves recommending what medication to give to particular patients. They are also involved in overseeing the dosage as well as the specific times each dosage should be taken or given. Clinical pharmacists can also do some medical tests besides giving patients medical advice.