Pharmacists are health professionals that are committed to public service. Their job is to serve patients and other health professionals in assuring appropriate use of medications. Responsibilities include interpretation and review of prescription orders, medication record screening and review, and accurate dispensing of medication. Some pharmacists may also purchase and sell hundreds of health-related items, or assist physicians in drug therapy decisions and purchase of all medicines used by the facility. Pharmacists also act as educators in the proper use of drugs for both the public and health practitioners. A pharmacist is trained to understand the physical and chemical properties of drugs and the way they behave in the human body.
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Choosing Pharmacy as a Career
The goal of pharmaceutical care is to provide medication services to patients that will cure a disease, reduce or eliminate symptoms, slow or arrest the progression of the disease, prevent the disease, or assist in diagnosing the disease. Pharmacists are professionals committed to the achievement of positive intended outcomes from medication use to improve patients' quality of life.
To be a pharmacist, one must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills and be dedicated to life-long learning. One must also have the ability to read and understand publications in biology, medicine, chemistry, and pharmacy. Pharmacists assume responsibility for human life, and therefore, must have organizational and management skills that provide accuracy, orderliness, and cleanliness. Because pharmacists are entrusted with the storage and distribution of dangerous and habit-forming drugs, their ethics must be unquestionable.
Pharmacists work with healthy and sick individuals and are increasing their role in the "wellness" movement through counseling and education. Through advances in technology, pharmacists now have more time to educate patients and maintain and monitor patient records.
Pharmacists can also combine their expertise with business by taking on managerial positions in chain pharmacy practices. Pharmacists can follow career paths at the district, regional and corporate levels, and take part in marketing operations, legal affairs, third party programs, and computerization and pharmacy affairs.
With the expansion and changes in health care, pharmacists are also needed in large and small hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, neighborhood health centers and health maintenance organizations. Hospital pharmacy practice includes a number of highly specialized areas, such as drug and poison information, intravenous therapy, nuclear pharmacy, adult medicine, pediatrics, oncology, ambulatory care and psychiatry. Additional employment opportunities for pharmacists are by the U.S. Public Health Service, the Armed Forces, the Department of Veteran Affairs, pharmaceutical research, pharmaceutical administration and academics.
There are many reasons students choose pharmacy as a career:
- Demand for well-qualified pharmacists will continue to rise: Career opportunities are available in community and hospital pharmacies, the military, in pharmaceutical research and manufacturing firms, nursing homes, public service agencies and in colleges and universities.
- Excellent income: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of all pharmacists made between $75,720 and $94,850 a year (in 2004).
- Increasing number of females in the profession: The number of women in the profession has been increasing steadily and it is projected the by 2020, 64% of all pharmacists will be female.
- Employment will remain stable in future: Employment growth is centered in chain store expansion, in ambulatory care centers, and in nontraditional practice areas.
To date, there are currently 230,000 licensed pharmacists in the country. Most pharmacists (60%) work in community pharmacies. It is estimated that Americans make over five billion trips a year to pharmacies, and pharmacists get more than two billion inquiries a year from their patients. About 22% of registered pharmacists work in hospitals and nursing homes.
As of 2007, there are 100 colleges and schools of pharmacy in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico recognized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Ohio has six pharmacy schools: The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, NEOUCOM, Ohio Northern University, Cedarville University, and the University of Toledo.
2011 Entering Class
- Science GPA: 3.26
- Non-Science GPA: 3.57
- Math GPA: 3.34
- Cumulative GPA: 3.38
- Composite PCAT score: 52.56 percentile
- Female: 59.9%
- Male: 39.9% (1.1% declined to state)
- Underrepresented Minorities: 17%
- U.S. Citizens: 87.8%
For more information on pharmacy school admission statistics, please research the annual publication "Pharmacy School Admission Requirements" (PSAR) offered online on the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) website.
- Pharmacy School Admissions Requirements, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, provides a complete listing of the 100 pharmacy schools and their application processes. This book can be found online at www.aacp.org.
- PharmCAS application system www.pharmcas.org
- Career Information Specific to a Particular Practice Setting: American Pharmacists Association.
- American Society of Health System Pharmacists
- National Association of Chain Drug Stores
- National Community Pharmacists Association
- American Society of Consultant Pharmacists
- National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (licensing information)
- Program Accreditation Information
- www.ExploreHealthCareers.org Sponsored by the American Dental Education Association, it provides information about all health-related occupations.
- Health Professions Admissions Guide: Strategy for Success. National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions