How to Become a Pharmacist | PCOM School of Pharmacy | PCOM Georgia
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How to Become a Pharmacist

October 13, 2022

Do you want to help patients get the most out of their medications? Are you looking for a rewarding career with the flexibility to work in a variety of healthcare settings? Pharmacists make an immediate impact on the health and wellness of their community and enjoy an abundance of career paths. Follow these steps to get started.

Step 1: Complete prerequisite coursework

To become a pharmacist, you need to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree. But before applying to pharmacy schools, review the required prerequisite coursework. Most pharmacy schools will accept applications from students who have not earned an undergraduate degree, but applicants must complete the prerequisite coursework with satisfactory grades at an accredited college or university.

While prerequisite coursework varies widely between PharmD programs, you can expect a fair amount of biology, chemistry and mathematics courses to be included.

Step 2: Choose a PharmD program

Pharmacy student portrait at PCOM GeorgiaFinding the right PharmD program for you will depend on many factors including cost, location and curriculum. First and foremost, you will want to find out if the program is accredited. You will not be able to practice pharmacy in the United States without a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). PCOM School of Pharmacy's PharmD program is accredited by the ACPE through June 30, 2028.

Campus tours and visits are good ways to learn about a program. Prospective students can tour classrooms and labs, interact with current students and meet faculty and staff. It's an opportunity to ask questions and find out what sets programs apart.

“What I love about our school is the classroom sizes are relatively small compared to other schools or institutions. And so as a result, I get to know our students on a level that I may not get to if our classroom sizes were larger.”
- Shari Allen, PharmD, BCPP; clinical pharmacist and associate professor

The PCOM School of Pharmacy is located at our PCOM Georgia campus in Suwanee (metro Atlanta area). The state-of-the-art teaching laboratories provide the perfect environment for practical training. PharmD students at PCOM Georgia also receive ample interprofessional training in collaboration with the medical, nurse practitioner and physical therapy students on campus. Experience PCOM Georgia by attending one of our virtual or in person events.

Step 3: Apply to PharmD school

The majority of pharmacy schools in the United States participate in the centralized Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS). PharmCAS allows prospective students to apply to multiple PharmD degree programs at once. Applicants must complete all PharmCAS application requirements as well as requirements set by individual schools. Some application requirements to be aware of are satisfactory prerequisite coursework GPAs, letters of recommendation and an interview process.

Application Requirements - PCOM School of Pharmacy

While not required by all pharmacy schools, prospective students can also submit their Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) score. This standardized exam helps schools determine if an applicant is qualified for their program. A good PCAT score can be especially helpful to students with lower GPAs.

PCOM School of Pharmacy Early Assurance Program

Eligible high schoolers and undergraduate students can be accepted into the PCOM School of Pharmacy by participating in the Early Assurance Pharmacy Program. As long as participants of the Early Assurance Pharmacy Program continue to meet all applicant criteria and maintain specified academic requirements, a spot will be secured for them in the PharmD program. Click here for more information.

Step 4: Complete PharmD degree program

Pharmacy school offers students the foundational knowledge and skills to practice pharmacy in a variety of healthcare settings and perform as medication experts.

PCOM School of Pharmacy achieves its mission through advancement of contemporary pharmacy practice. The school trains students to become collaborative members of healthcare teams and is dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of diverse communities. Students will learn patient-centered care with a focus on interprofessional education, commitment to service, and lifelong personal and professional development.

“Our integrated science and therapeutics courses provide a strong foundational basis for pharmacy practice in community, outpatient, institutional and general medicine settings.”
- Michael J. Lee, PhD; Assistant Dean for Professional and Student Affairs

How long does it take to become a pharmacist?

Pre-pharmacy study can take 2-4 academic years to complete. It generally takes four academic years to complete a PharmD program. The first three professional years of the PharmD curriculum at PCOM Georgia include classroom lectures, lab work and Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs). IPPEs offer students experiential training in community and hospital pharmacies. Students receive more responsibility for patient care as they progress through the program which results in more confident and independent pharmacy practitioners. PharmD students also have the opportunity to choose a specialty concentration in their third professional year of the program. Concentrations include acute care, ambulatory care, managed care, medical cannabis and nuclear pharmacy.

The fourth professional year of the PCOM PharmD program curriculum includes Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) rotations which allow students to gain clinical experience in multiple areas, often at major health systems. Students can choose from a wide variety of elective rotations that fit their interests and/or specialty concentration.

Step 5: Pass licensure exam and obtain state license

Doctor of Pharmacy graduates must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) before they are allowed to practice in the U.S. There are also additional licensure requirements specified by each state board of pharmacy. For more information, consult the board of pharmacy in the state where you plan to practice.

Step 6: Begin your career as a pharmacist

Pharmacists are found in a variety of healthcare settings including community pharmacies, private medical offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities. They work for labs, regulatory agencies, universities and pharmaceutical companies. Learn more about career options for pharmacists.

The job outlook for pharmacists is strong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 11,000 job openings are projected each year from 2020 to 2030. Coupled with median salaries in the six figures, now is an excellent time to begin your pharmacy journey.

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