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Becoming a Pharmacist

There are many things you may wish to consider when exploring the possibility of becoming a pharmacist. Typically, one should consider both the steps involved in the process of becoming a pharmacist as well as the career options available to Pharmacists. Even more importantly, you must consider the responsibilities and qualifications of a Pharmacist relative to your own abilities.

Come take a look at a recent Purdue grad featured on the Hoosier Hot 50 Jobs website. Find out why Nicole is passionate about her job and how she's making a difference in her patients' lives every day.

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An excellent source of information which may help you investigate these considerations is a booklet entitled "Shall I study Pharmacy?" published by the American Association of the Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). The AACP also has a web page, entitled "Is Pharmacy for You?", that tells more about the profession of pharmacy and the career options available to pharmacists.

Parts of the "Shall I Study Pharmacy?" booklet have been excerpted and presented here, along with information about Purdue's programs of study in Pharmacy. This information is provided in the form of a self-study, focusing on the following topics:

  1. The responsibilities of a pharmacist
    "What if I want to go to medical school?" - Consider the BSPS program followed by medical school
  2. The personal qualifications of a pharmacist
  3. Career opportunities for pharmacists
    "What if I want a career in research and development or teaching?" - Consider the BSPS program, possibly followed by graduate school.
  4. Professional pharmacy education
  5. Preparation for study

Top Ten reasons to Become a Pharmacist

1. I want to help people get well

Pharmacists can be instrumental in improving the health of patients by choosing the best medicines and helping to avoid side effects. Pharmacists work with prescribers to determine the best drug- and non-drug therapy for a patient's particular illness, age, gender, health, etc.

2. I Like to Work Directly with Patients

Pharmacists are generally considered the most accessible member of the healthcare team. Patients can often visit their local pharmacist to seek advice about the medications they are taking without making an appointment. Pharmacists may also provide other services such as immunizations, asthma care, blood pressure monitoring services, cholesterol screening, diabetes disease management, smoking cessation consultation, bone density scans for osteoporosis screening, anticoagulation management clinics and more.

3. I Enjoy a Wide Variety of Career Opportunities

Pharmacists work in numerous healthcare environments, including hospitals, nursing homes, managed care organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, colleges and schools and the federal government. Pharmacists play key leadership roles in all aspects of the healthcare system.

4. I Can Benefit from the Increased Demand For Pharmacists

There is an ongoing demand for pharmacy services throughout the U.S. in most sectors of the profession. The demand is fueled by the following factors:

  • Increased demand for patient services
  • Increase in number of prescriptions filled each year. According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the number of prescriptions filled increased from 1.9 million in 1992 to more than 3.1 million in 2002 (~60 percent increase over 10 years)
  • Increase in the number of medicines available on the market
  • Increase in the elderly population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 5 Americans will be classified as elderly by 2030

5. I Want to be an Important Member of the Healthcare Team

Pharmacists work with other health care professionals to maximize health outcomes. Numerous studies have proven that the presence of a pharmacist on hospital rounds as a full member of the patient care team has been shown to prevent drug errors and reduce costs.

6. I Can Have Job Mobility, Stability, and Flexibility

Pharmacists are employed in every part of the country.

7. I am Excited to be a Part of Major Innovations in Drug Therapy

One of the many exciting developments in the pharmacy profession is the growth of a discipline, known as pharmacogenomics. Genetic variations in genes can affect a body's response to a drug. In the future, specialists in this area hope to sequence the entire human gene in each individual. Pharmacists and other healthcare providers will be able to use that information to select the best medicines, treat diseases earlier than now possible, or prevent them entirely with individually-tailored drug therapies.

8. I Want to Work with State-of-the-Art Technology

Digital innovations in pharmacy include electronic prescriptions, robotics for central prescription processing and use of computers in practice as well as pharmaceutical research. These technological advances enhance efficiency and help to promote patient safety.

9. I Can Help Defend Against Bioterrorism

The accessibility of pharmacies could be one of the keys to a successful mass immunization or drug distribution program in an emergency. In an epidemic or bioterror situation, pharmacists are prepared to play a major role in preventing the spread of disease and overseeing the distribution of appropriate and safe medications.

10. I Would Like to Be a Highly Respected Member of My Community

According to a November 2003 Gallup Poll, pharmacists' honesty and ethics were rated as "high" or "very high" by 67 percent of Americans, and surpassed in ranking only by nurses. Pharmacists are visible leaders in our community who are entrusted with the health of our families.

- Adapted from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)

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