Retail Pharmacist Degrees

Retail pharmacists are responsible for providing basic healthcare advice along with prescription and non-prescription medication to the public. They review prescriptions and dispense the required amount of medication with accuracy. Currently, there are over 67,000 pharmacies in the US and almost half of these are inside grocery stores, drug stores or departmental stores. To enter this field professionally, you will need to learn about how to get a retail pharmacist degree. Here is all the information you need.

What Does a Retail Pharmacist Do?

A retail pharmacist typically has the following job duties:

  • Dispense medication to walk-in customers
  • Inform customers about the medication that is being given to them
  • Help patients understand the side effects and potential drug interactions they should be aware of
  • Ensure that the patient understands how the medicine is meant to be taken, at what times and for how many days
  • Answer questions about dosage measurement, insurance and refills
  • Provide alternate medicines to emergency cases, otherwise recommend seeing a doctor

Retail pharmacists need to be very vigilant and careful in dispensing medication. One mistake on their part could cause serious damage to the patient’s health. They need to be highly attentive to make sure that the medications being administered are in accordance with the prescriptions and are safe for the patient.

How to Become a Retail Pharmacist?

To become a Retail Pharmacist, you need to get a Retail Pharmacist degree. The minimum requirement for you to enter this field is a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) Degree. The following is a step-by-step educational path you need to follow to become a retail pharmacist:


Step 1: Bachelor’s Degree

After high school, you will need to look into college level degrees in pharmacy sciences. Even though some pharmacy schools also accept graduates who have completed 60 to 90 credit hours as opposed to the 120 hours it takes to graduate from college, it is still recommended that you complete a bachelor’s degree in pre-pharmacy.

Every pharmacy school in the country has certain requirements in terms of pre-requisites. Therefore, it would be wise for you to use your undergraduate credit hours accordingly. Following coursework might be a part of a typical bachelor’s degree in this field:

  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry with Lab Assignments
  • General Biology with Lab Assignments
  • Microbiology
  • Calculus
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physics
  • English Composition
  • Public Speaking
  • Humanities
  • Economics
  • Human Anatomy
  • Anatomy and Physiology

Course requirements would vary from university to university. Therefore, you are advised to research thoroughly before applying to a particular institution. In addition to taking relevant courses, it is vital for students to maintain a high CGPA.


Step 2: PCAT – Pharmacy College Admission Test

To get admission into a Pharmacy program you need to clear the PCAT first. This test is applicable for pharmacy schools in the US and Canada. It is designed to measure the academic and general abilities of a student, along with specific scientific knowledge, both of which are important for pharmacy school applicants. Test scores need to be submitted along with other admission documents to the school you are applying to. Some colleges have very strict score cut-offs. You can find score-cutoff information on the websites for most colleges.

You can take this test in the sophomore or junior year of your undergraduate degree or whenever you plan to apply to pharmacy school.


Step 3: Pharmacy School

After you have cleared the entrance test, you will need to apply to the pharmacy school that is perfect for you. You will need to do a substantial amount of research into the various school options you have. Make sure you consider all factors including location, fee structure, internship opportunities, courses offered and so on.

In order to get an admission into the Pharm.D. program, an applicant would need to submit their PCAT score, GPA and information regarding prior coursework. In addition to these, they will need to pass an admissions interview.

Pharm. D. programs are typically 3 to 4 years long programs where students are required to take advance level classes in medical ethics and pharmacology, along with gaining practical experience in a supervised environment.


Step 4: Licensing

After completing the required education, Pharmacists would need to get a license to practice through the North America Pharmacists Licensure Examination (NAPLEX). This test would measure the knowledge of the pharmacist according to a set standard, applicable all across the country. The licensure exam would assess the following:

  • If the applicant understands standards for safe pharmacotherapy
  • If the applicant can dispense medications safely and accurately
  • If the applicant can provide healthcare information to the customers

Many states have their own specific requirements for licensing. This is called the Multi-state Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE).


Career as a Retail Pharmacist

Prospective retail pharmacists can find employment in a variety of settings. Jobs in drugstores and pharmacies are the most common for such professionals.  Full time work is a routine matter in this field, with overtime being a rare concern.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following 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

The demand for pharmacists is expected to rise in different healthcare settings, including clinics and hospitals. In addition to that, the large baby-boom generation is now aging, increasing the need for dispensing medication. Higher rate of chronic diseases is also one of the reasons for a rise in the need for pharmacies and medicine dispensing.

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