When you've decided to pursue a career in pharmacy, take some time to learn about the different professional pharmacy education and training programs available. Completing an pharmacist education track may not necessarily be easy, and you'll need to be prepared for intensive clinical training, research projects and a challenging course load when you enroll in a College of Pharmacy. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy mandates all pharmacists to have a doctorate degree, which means you will need to seek out a pharmacy education program at an accredited school shortly after graduating with a bachelor's degree in a related field.

Getting a Professional Pharmacy Education

It's important to remember that the pharmacy education track is very demanding and it will take you some time to develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel in your field. If you choose to specialize in a certain area, you may be required to take on some intensive research projects, participate in workshops and attend educational seminars as part of your course requirements.

A professional pharmacy education prepares you for a rewarding career in the fields of pharmacy and pharmacology, and will teach you how to:

  • Promote health and awareness of health issues to the general public
  • Provide information about prescription drugs and medications accurately
  • Educate patients and medical professionals about appropriate dosages
  • Develop and maintain a medication distribution and control systems
  • Assist in providing professional pharmaceutical care to different types of patients
  • Manage general pharmacy operations and follow protocol

General Pharmacist Education Requirements

Almost all accredited colleges and universities that offer a professional pharmacy education program requires students to complete a two-year pre-pharmacy educational track, followed by up to six years of training towards the doctorate degree. Some students are able to complete their Pharm.D. pharmacy education requirements within three years after their pre-pharmacy program, but others need up to six years or more.

General pharmacist education requirements vary slightly from school to school, but most require the following:

  • Completing a bachelor's degree or equivalent in science, math or other related field
  • Completing all pre-pharmacy education requirements and curriculum
  • Completing graduate studies in a related field (may or may not be required, depending on school)
  • Applying for admission to the College of Pharmacy
  • Preparing for the pharmacy licensure examination (state requirement)

Exams for Pharm.D. graduates are given by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Al states require pharmacists to take the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam) in order to practice in their field. Your pharmacist education program will prepare you for this licensing exam.

Key Areas of Study in a Pharmacist Education Program

After developing a strong foundation in math, science, biology and other medical-related topics during your pre-pharmacy training, you will enter a pharmacist education program that covers several specialized areas of study and gives you a chance to learn about the general practices and protocol of a pharmacy. Some of this education is delivered with classroom instruction, but you will also have the chance to acquire hands-on experience when you complete your lab work, clinicals and research projects.

Key areas of study in a pharmacist education program include:

  • Pharmaceutical chemistry
  • Pharmacognosy
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy business management
  • Pharmacy practice
  • Clinicals where you work with patients, doctors and researchers