Oncology Pharmacy Degree

An oncology pharmacist is a professional with proper training in how to design, monitor, administer and change chemotherapy for patients at various stages of cancer. These professionals are certified by the Board of Pharmacy, which recognizes eight specialty areas in pharmacy studies. As of December 2016, there are 2,778 Board Certified Oncology Pharmacists. To enter into this field, you will need an oncology pharmacy degree from an accredited institution.


How to Become an Oncology Pharmacist?

Any specialization in pharmacy requires a lot of training and practice. The rigorous and lengthy training process is to ensure that you are optimally prepared for the tough and demanding nature of this job. The process is particularly longer for people who specialize in a highly complex field such as oncology. Training for oncology pharmacy is quite similar, in length and difficulty level, to the training of a physician. The following steps might help you in understanding the requirements you will need to fulfill to become an oncology pharmacist:

Graduate from high school or earn a GED: This basic level of education is a necessity for any college admission. Since pharmacy is a science-based degree, you are advised to take relevant courses while in high school. Focus on areas such as math and biology – this might help you get into the pharmacy program of your choice.

Do your research: You can either check the websites of major pharmacy colleges in your area or write emails to them regarding their program. You will want to know their prerequisites for entry, along with the list of documents they require. Also be sure to check the admission deadlines, so that you can apply well in time and plan your entire application process accordingly.

Enroll in a Bachelor’s Degree: Once you have done your research and figured out what college you want to go to, you need to apply well in time to avoid any last minute mishaps. This degree will classify as your pre-pharmacy program. Coursework you should opt for at this stage includes the likes of general chemistry, biology, fundamentals of biology, pharmacy orientation, organic chemistry, calculus and physics. You might even get accepted to pharmacy school in the third year of your bachelor’s degree, given that you have cleared your PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test).

Take your PCAT: The ideal time to clear this test is before you enter your senior year so that you can apply to pharmacy schools well in time, and join right after you graduate from your bachelor’s degree (though some students join without completing the bachelor’s degree).

Get your Doctor of Pharmacy Degree: Once you have been accepted into a pharmacy school, you will now earn a doctor of pharmacy degree. This is a 4-year long program that involves clinical practice. To be eligible for admission into this program, you will need to have completed at least 2 years of undergraduate study. The length of this program is going to be 4 academic years. The curriculum would include knowledge on the following:

  • Providing pharmaceutical care to patients
  • Developing and managing medication distribution and control systems
  • Promoting overall public health
  • Managing a pharmacy
  • Providing all kinds of information on various common drugs
  • Providing information on the usage and dosage of drugs

The major areas of instruction include the following:

  • Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • Pharmacognosy
  • Pharmacology
  • Business Management
  • Pharmacy practice

Get your license: After you have gained your Pharm. D., you will now need to get a license to practice. Each state has slightly different requirements for this, so check with your state’s relevant department regarding all the documents you need to submit and the application deadline. Holding this license would demonstrate that you posses mastery of state-specific laws and regulations that regulate the profession of pharmacy.

Complete a residency: After you graduate and get your license, you need to start focusing on your residency program. This is where you will gain in-depth knowledge regarding oncology and caretaking for cancer patients. Pharmacists who complete this program will be highly qualified practitioners who will be able to provide optimal drug therapy for cancer patients.

Get certified: individuals who have cleared the residency program will now be in a position to get certified by the Board of Pharmacy Specialties. Board certified oncology needs to be revised every seven years, with a new and updated certification. This is done by either completing 100 hours of continuing education of by passing a multiple-choice objective recertification exam.

Oncology Pharmacy Careers

Becoming a Board certified oncology pharmacist will raise the level of recognition and respect you get from the medical field. This field also has a high earning potential because of its complex and demanding nature. Oncology pharmacists are typically involved with all aspects of cancer care – from chemotherapy dose preparation to checking for safety, to drug development and research to providing information to patients about potential side effects. If the patient has any questions about the drugs being administered to them, an oncology pharmacist can be of a lot of help.

Oncology pharmacists carry out daily evaluations of different medication profiles to make sure that each drug is administered in the right manner, with the right amount of dosage. They are responsible for creating and managing a patient’s supportive care plan, which focuses on matters such as nausea, neuropathy, pain and vomiting.

Oncology pharmacists can be particularly helpful when they are administering cancer treatments at the patient’s home. Because these patients are not receiving chemotherapy, their visits to clinics and interactions with doctors would be limited. Oncology pharmacists can help them out by answering all the questions they have about cancer medication and treatment options.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following salary and job growth statistics for Pharmacists:

2016 Median Pay $122,230 per year
Typical Entry Level Education Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 297,100
Job Outlook, 2014-2024 3%
Employment Change, 2014-24 9,100

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