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What Does a Pharmacist Do?

Pharmacists are health professionals that are committed to public service. They dispense medications prescribed by physicians and other health practitioners on the selction, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications. 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.

Download the Pharmacy Fast Facts (PDF)

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:

  • Pharmacy is the 3rd largest health profession in the U.S.
  • Pharmacy is considered to be the most accessible health profession in the U.S.
  • Currently there are an estimated 7,000-10,000 unfilled pharmacy positions in the U.S. 
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of pharmacists in 2018 was $126,120


There are 143 schools in the U.S. that grant the PharmD (Doctorate of Pharmacy). Ohio has seven pharmacy schools: The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Ohio Northern University, Cedarville University, University of Findlay, and the University of Toledo.

Competitive applicant to Pharmacy schools will have a grade point average of a 3.4 or higher with scores above the national average on the PCAT (54th percentile).

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.

Working Conditions

Pharmacists usually work in clean, well-lit and well-ventilated areas. Many pharmacists spend most of their workday on their feet. Many community and hospital pharmacies are open for extended hours or around the clock, so pharmacists may work evenings, nights, weekends, or holidays. Consultant pharmacists may travel to nursing homes or other facilities to monitor patient’s drug therapy. About 1 out of 5 pharmacists worked part time in 2014. Most full-time pharmacists worked about 43 hours a week. Some, including many self-employed pharmacists worked more than 50 hours a week. 

Core Pre-Requisites

  • General Biology: BIO 1120 and 1150
  • General Chemistry: CHM 1210 and 1220
  • Organic Chemistry: CHM 2110 and 2120
  • Microbiology: BIO 3100 and 3110 or M&I 2200
  • Calculus: MTH 2240 or 2300
  • Statistics: STT 2640 or 1600
  • General Physics: PHY 1110 and 1120
  • English: ENG 1100 and 2100
  • Human A&P: ANT 3100 and 3120

In addition, some schools will require:

  • Biochemistry: BMB 4210 and 4230
  • Economics: EC 2000
  • Public Speaking: COM 1010
  • Psychology: PSY 1010

Some Pharmacy schools only require a minimum of 2 years of college level work while others require a baccalaureate degree before acceptance.

Each pharmacy school has its own specific set of requirements. Students are strongly encouraged to work with the Pre-Health Advisor for additional information.

Pharmacy Schools in Ohio

  • The Ohio State University
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Toledo
  • Ohio Northern
  • University of Findlay
  • Northeastern Ohio Medical University
  • Cedarville University

Contact these schools to learn more about their direct admit programs.

4.6 applications were received by Ohio colleges or schools of pharmacy for every one entering student enrolled.

Average science GPA for the 2014 class was 3.23; overall GPA 3.36

Average composite PCAT score for accepted applicants was in the 54th percentile

Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is a national computer based examination for people interested in a career in pharmacy. The PCAT is required or highly recommended by most pharmacy schools. This national exam is administered several times a year (July, September, October, November, and January). Each pharmacy college designates an appropriate examination time(s) and students should visit with the Pre-Health Advisor for additional knowledge of pharmacy school admissions policies.The PCAT consists of six sections:

  • Writing
  • Biological Processes
  • Chemical Processes
  • Critical Reading
  • Quantitative Reasoning

For more information on the PCAT, visit

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should I apply to pharmacy school?

    Application deadlines to pharmacy schools vary and it is important for the applicant to be familiar with each pharmacy school they are interested in. In addition, all applicants should visit the Pre-Health Advisor for assistance. Most application deadlines for pharmacy schools will fall between October 1st and February 1st.

  • How do I go about applying to pharmacy school?

    Almost half of all pharmacy degree programs in the U.S. participate in the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) for admission. Using PharmCAS, applicants complete a single application and submit one set of official transcripts (from each college/university attended) and references to apply to multiple PharmD programs. Many pharmacy schools will also require the applicant to send a supplemental application and fee directly to the institution. Sometimes these deadlines are the same as the PharmCAS deadlines, but usually they are due at a later date. Students must complete all PharmCAS and supplemental requirements before their application will be processed and review. Visit the PharmCAS website or see the Pre-Health Advisor for more information.

  • What is an acceptable PCAT score?

    Each pharmacy school is different and enrollment statistics from previous years can generally be found on the programs website. The Pharmacy School Admissions Guide or the Pre-Health Advisor can always be used for assistance and guidance. Applicants are encouraged to be familiar with the format and the subject content of the test before sitting for the test.

  • Are sample tests or study materials available for the PCAT?

    Students also purchase study materials and/or courses to help prepare for the PCAT. Please see the Pre-Health Advisor for literature regarding these materials and courses. It is important to remember that to do well on the PCAT, a considerable amount of time (several weeks to months) should be reserved for studying material on a daily basis.

    Visit the PCAT website for more information.

  • How many letters of evaluation are required for pharmacy school?

    Schools may require applicants to submit 1-3 letters of recommendation from particular individuals (e.g., pharmacist, professor, advisor). Some pharmacy schools require health professions advisors and evaluators to use a school-specific evaluation. Letters of evaluation are submitted electronically through PharmCAS or mailed directly to the application system or school. School-specific information can be found at

  • What is the pharmacy school interview like?

    Only applicants that are seriously being considered for matriculation are generally invited for an interview. Applicants with direct exposure or extensive research in pharmacy will be better prepared to respond to questions. Applicants will be rated on communications skills, professionalism, knowledge of the profession, critical thinking skills, and motivation to pursue a career in pharmacy.

    For assistance in preparing for the interviewing process, please contact the Pre-Health Advisor or the Career Services office to schedule a mock interview.

  • What types of extracurricular activities and work experience should I have in order to be a competitive applicant?
    • Community service that demonstrates a commitment to helping others and/or increasing awareness of health issues
    • Activities that demonstrate your organizational and leadership skills and professional disposition and potential
    • Volunteer or paid experience working with patients in a pharmacy or health-related profession is strongly recommended.

    "Quality and persistence are far more important than quantity"

  • When will I find out if I am accepted into pharmacy school?

    Pharmacy schools are different when it comes to notifying an applicant of acceptance. It is best to visit the individual program's website, refer to the Pharmacy School Admissions Requirements guide, or visit the Pre-Health Advisor.

  • Are there any joint degree programs provided with pharmacy?

    Some individuals want to pursue an additional degree on top of their PharmD. Some examples of additional degrees are:

    • PharmD/DVM: careers working with animals and drug therapy/medications
    • PharmD/PhD: careers in academics or pharmaceutical research
    • PharmD/MBA: careers in pharmacy administration
    • PharmD/MPH: careers in public health (bioterrorism, antibiotic resistance)

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Contact Information

Pre-Professional Program Coordinator:

Rob Cowles

(937) 775-3802