Those who study to earn a degree in pharmacy typically focus on becoming pharmacists. Their education includes learning the ins and outs of chemical compositions of various medications in order to best understand how to create new and improve existing drugs to help sick patients. For more information on what you will learn and what you can do with a pharmacy degree, be sure to continue reading.
Types of Pharmacy Degree Programs
In the world of pharmaceuticals, most career paths require a doctoral degree in order to practice. This section provides just a few different subjects that may help you earn your Doctor of Pharmacy, otherwise known as a Pharm.D.
Medicinal chemistry involves the use of chemical research processes and techniques in order to help develop new medicines to treat various ailments. Those who study medicinal chemistry take a number of chemistry courses to understand the makeup and reactions of compounds, specifically organic compounds, with one another, which in turn assists them in the development and testing of potential medications. Students and researchers alike also focus on various aspects of biology to better grasp how compounds affect the body, knowledge necessary to create safe and effective drugs.
Also referred to as the science of dosage form design, pharmaceutics is a branch of medical study that involves transforming pure drug substances into substances that can be taken in, as implied by its alternate name, dosage form. Like medicinal chemistry, the study of pharmaceutics includes understanding various types of chemistry and biology, and knowledge in mathematics can be helpful, as well. It is important to know how drugs are disbursed throughout the body once consumed in order to best create safe and effective medications for people of all ages.
Biomedical Regulatory Affairs
The study of biomedical regulatory affairs consists of learning the legal procedures and qualifications related to medicine. It also involves an understanding of the rules and regulations set by the Food and Drug Administration that are meant to ensure the safety and health of people across the United States. These rules and regulations relate to the creation, distribution, and use of drugs by skilled and knowledgeable pharmacists for patients across the country suffering from various illnesses.
Subjects Studied in Pharmacy Degree Programs
Depending on the school at which you choose to earn a pharmacy degree and the type of pharmacy degree you decide to pursue, each program covers many specific subjects. This section provides brief descriptions of some subjects that may be studied in these programs. The subjects below are in no specific order.
Pathology – study of the various causes and effects diseases have on individuals and society as a whole
Immunopharmacology – study of drugs that somehow affect a person’s immune system, whether by activating, suppressing, or manipulating it in a way that is beneficial to the patient
Physical Chemistry – study of connecting the study of physics and chemistry; may involve applying theories of physics to chemistry in order to better understand reactions
Biostatistics – study of statistics of living organisms
Biopharmaceutics – study of biological effects on patients through understanding the physical and chemical makeups of various forms of medicine
Where Can I Work with a Pharmacy Degree?
You can find jobs around the globe for people with pharmacy degrees. The types of jobs you may qualify for vary depending on the type of pharmacy degree program you choose to pursue. Some examples of places you can work once you earn your Pharm.D. are briefly listed below.
- Grocery stores
- Government agencies
- Geriatric community homes
- Health clinics
*Note: All pharmacists are required to obtain licenses in order to practice in the United States.
What Can I Do with a Pharmacy Degree?
Generally speaking, no matter where they work, pharmacists often have very similar responsibilities. They all work with drugs that are meant to improve people’s health. Many of them work in the field of drug distribution, and some with a Pharm.D. work to improve existing or develop new medications that help heal or temporarily relieve pains and/or illnesses from which people suffer.
Pharmacists are mainly responsible for filling prescriptions provided to patients by doctors or certified nurse practitioners. They may also communicate with these patients, providing them with proper instructions on how the prescribed medications are meant to be taken. Pharmacists also answer questions that patients may have in regard to their medications. In some cases, pharmacists may advise patients on dieting habits necessary to improve their health and help prevent future health issues.
Pharmacy Career Paths
Upon earning your Pharm.D., you will find that you qualify to fill various career positions involving pharmaceuticals. Some of these types of careers are described in this section.
Jobs You Can Do with a Pharmacy Degree
For those who possess little to no experience but are interested in pursuing a career in the field of pharmaceuticals, a position as a pharmacy technician can be particularly helpful. Pharmacy technicians handle already-filled prescriptions, taking care of the check-out process for patients who come to pick up their medications. They may work in retail pharmacies, health clinics, or hospitals. To become a pharmacy technician, one of the jobs you can do with a pharmacy degree, some pharmacies only require a high school diploma, but many prefer a bachelors degree in pharmacy or related field. Most training typically takes place on the job. Good customer service skills are preferable, as are excellent organizational skills.
Pharmacy technicians may earn around $27,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
A clinical pharmacist interacts closely with fellow pharmacy staff members as well as doctors to educate them on newer or improved medications. Clinical pharmacists inform doctors of the potential dangers and side effects of medications in addition to ways in which these medications should be taken as well as the recommended dosage of each. They often keep track of the distribution of medications to ensure compliance of government rules and regulations, and these pharmacists may also educate fellow staff members on how to properly package and label medications. Some clinical pharmacists also head medical conferences. It is recommended that a clinical pharmacist possess a Pharm.D. as well as outstanding written and verbal communication skills. Leadership skills are also beneficial. Most companies looking to hire a clinical pharmacist typically desire someone with a few years of experience in the field, as well.
Clinical pharmacists may earn around $103,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
A nuclear pharmacist deals with radio pharmaceuticals, or radioactive materials used in digital imaging procedures such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs. Nuclear pharmacists spend their days–usually early mornings–measuring the quantity of radio pharmaceuticals necessary for specific procedures in order to prepare them for delivery to places that carry out digital imaging procedures, such as hospitals and health clinics. It is not uncommon for nuclear pharmacists to also help or take over in the transport of these radioactive materials, as well. Basic entry level positions with more tedious responsibilities require at least a bachelors degree in pharmaceuticals or pharmacy, but it is mandatory that nuclear pharmacists looking to open their own businesses or gain higher positions in the workforce possess a Pharm.D. It is crucial that nuclear pharmacists have outstanding organizational skills and are able to meet specific time deadlines, as radio pharmaceuticals often lose their effectiveness the longer they are exposed.
Nuclear pharmacists may earn well over $105,000 annually, depending on their education and experience levels as well as specific job duties.
A retail pharmacist typically works for a grocery store or drug store, receiving and dispensing orders placed by doctors and other medical professionals in addition to patients placing orders for refills. He or she may also discuss proper dosage with patients as they come to pick up their prescriptions, usually for first-time pickups. Retail pharmacists sometimes assist in stocking shelves and occasionally order necessary supplies, as well. Retail pharmacists usually possess a Pharm.D. or even master or doctoral degrees in subjects relevant to pharmacology and have excellent communication and organizational skills.
Retail pharmacists may earn over $110,000 annually, based on education and experience levels in addition to where they choose to work.
Companies that Hire People with Pharmacy Degrees
Companies around the world are looking for knowledgeable pharmacists with outstanding customer service skills to help improve their business. A handful of examples of places that hire people with pharmacy degrees are listed below.
Newton-Wellesley Hospital – located in Newton, MA; hires positions for nuclear pharmacists, surgical center pharmacy technicians, other pharmacy technicians, etc.
Froedtert Health – located in Milwaukee, WI, and CT; hires positions for pharmacy technicians, outpatient pharmacists, staff pharmacists, etc.
Triad Isotopes – various locations across the US; hires positions for pharmacy managers, relief pharmacists, staff pharmacists, etc.
The HealthCare Initiative – located in Centennial, CO; hires positions for pharmacy regional directors, clinical informatics pharmacists, chief nursing officers, etc.
If you are interested in joining a team of medical professionals dedicated to helping others receive the medicinal treatment they deserve, then you should consider earning a pharmacy degree. Earning a Pharm.D. may take more than your average four-year degree program, but the benefits and rewards are well worth your time.