Pharmacists distribute prescription drugs to individuals. They also advise patients, as well as physicians and other health practitioners, on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications. Pharmacists monitor the health and progress of patients to ensure the safe and effective use of medication. Most pharmacists work in a community setting, such as a retail drugstore, or in a health care facility, such as a hospital.
Some pharmacists specialize in specific drug therapy areas, such as intravenous nutrition support, oncology, nuclear pharmacy, geriatric pharmacy, and psychopharmacotherapy. Some conduct research for pharmaceutical manufacturers, developing new drugs and therapies and testing their effects on people. Others work in marketing or sales, providing expertise to clients on a drug's use, effectiveness, and possible side effects. Some pharmacists work for health insurance companies, developing pharmacy benefit packages and carrying out cost-benefit analyses on certain drugs. Other pharmacists work for the government, managed care organizations, public health care services, or the armed services. Finally, some pharmacists are employed as college faculty, teaching classes and performing research in a wide range of areas. (From the online Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011)
Pharmacist Degrees and Careers
The process of becoming a pharmacist can require anywhere from six to thirteen years to develop all of the necessary skills, knowledge and certifications and to complete all of the necessary exams, pre-requisites, coursework and clinicals that are required. Most pre-requisite courses for pharmacists are within the laboratory science which include biology and chemistry. Students will work towards the entry to a Doctor of Pharmacy program but they have a number of options for their science-related coursework. Students will come across academic courses that include anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and physics just to name a few. Any option that is chosen will prepare students for the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT).
Pharmacy students must complete the Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D) which generally takes four years. Pharmacy students then must pass exam(s) in order to receive a license to practice. The primary test is the North American Pharmacist Licensing Exam (NAPLEX). Some states might require more than just this exam in order to be a licensed pharmacist. If an exam is failed during the process you may be able to apply and retake it, but note, some states do have a limit of how many times each exam can be retaken. Pharmacist's salaries can differ depending on location. The median pay, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics information from 2012, was $116, 670 or about $56.09 per hour. As for employment, most pharmacy jobs can be found in local drug stores, hospitals and clinics.
For more information please visit the How to Become of Pharmacist website.
UIC College of Pharmacy Admissions Profile 2011
Approximately 108 students admitted each year
Cumulative GPA: 3.41
PCAT Composite: 65%
Previous Bachelor's Degree: 59%
The Application Process
Students should begin researching schools early in their academic careers as programs have different admission requirements. Students may find the information contained in the Pharmacy School Admissions Requirements (PSAR) helpful. The printed directory costs $35 or can be downloaded for free. To locate Pharmacy school websites go to PharmD School Directory.
Students can apply to over 100 pharmacy schools by completing their initial application through the web-based Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS). Programs not participating in PharmCAS accept applications directly to their schools. Schools using PharmCAS may or may not require a supplemental application; check with each program.
Pharmacy applicants must have achieved a cumulative 2.5 GPA to apply. They must have a minimum of 12 General Education credits to apply, although completion of 20 General Education credits is recommended prior to the first pharmacy year. For Fall 2012, applications are accepted between June 3, 2011 and December 1, 2011. Each applicant must complete the PharmCAS application which includes letters of reference and transcripts.
Many pharmacy schools seek a diverse class of students. Programs seek to recruit individuals from diverse ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and life experiences to the Pharmacy profession and to equip them with the necessary clinical and professional knowledge, skills and abilities to provide high quality, compassionate medical care to diverse patient populations. Students may contact individual pharmacy schools for more information.
The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), www.pcatweb.info, is required for applicants to most Colleges of Pharmacy. Scores must be sent to PharmCAS, but you must determine each schools individual code number. The PCAT must be taken no later than September prior to the application deadline. Pre-registration for the exam is required; dates are listed on the PCAT web site. Students should register for the test online. The registration fee is $199.
Two letters of reference are required. Letters are processed through the PharmCAS application service and may be submitted electronically. These letters can be from an employer, professor, supervisor of a community service project, etc. They may not come from a family member or friend. They should be received by the application deadline.
Interviews vary by school; students should check with their individual schools for interview timelines. The UI College of Pharmacy requires personal, on-campus interviews. Applicants selected for an interview will be contacted via email. Interviews are held in February.
The PharmCAS application asks, "Were you ever the recipient of any action by any faculty member, college or university for academic or professional misconduct or unacceptable academic performance?" and "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" Students answering "yes" will need to provide an explanation. The UI College of Pharmacy performs criminal background checks on newly enrolled students. Other schools may participate in a centralized criminal background check program as well.
Pharmacy schools differ as to whether they accept U.S. permanent residents and/or foreign citizens. Applicants are encouraged to check PharmCAS (under "School Information") for each school's admission policy.