Pharmacist Course and Class Overviews
The nuts and bolts of pharmacy training lie in a series of pharmacology courses that examine the impact of prescription drugs on different systems of the body. Students learn how pharmaceuticals affect the central nervous, cardiovascular and endocrine systems, as well as how drugs are used to treat diseases like cancer.
Pharmacist courses are primarily offered through pre-pharmacy and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) programs at 4-year colleges and universities. Most schools require prospective Pharm.D. students to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). Pharmacology courses are usually taken during the middle years of a 4-year Pharm.D. program, although some programs are offered as 3-year programs, and high school students can be admitted directly into a 6-year program. To work as a pharmacist, a student must complete a Pharm.D. program and a 1-2 year residency as well as earn state licensure by passing the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a state-approved test that focuses on pharmacy law.
List of Courses
The following course descriptions pertain to courses common to most pharmacy doctorate programs.
A course in pharmacist ethics teaches Pharm.D. students about laws and ethics governing the profession. Students learn about different agencies, such as the Federal Drug Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration and state pharmacy boards, that establish and enforce pharmacy law. They also learn to comply with standards set forth by these agencies. Students engage in extensive case studies and group work, in addition to discussing the ethical treatment of patients. Pharmacy ethics is usually taken at the end of a student's first year of study or the beginning of his or her second year.
Pharmacist and Healthcare
A pharmacist and healthcare class explores the role of pharmacists in the big picture of U.S. healthcare. It covers relationships between pharmacists and patients, particularly as they relate to insurance. Healthcare policies and government regulation also are discussed. A pharmacist and healthcare course is taken within the first two years of most Pharm.D. programs.
A pharmacist internship allows students to gain real-world experience. Most pharmacist doctorate programs require students to complete a pharmacy internship each summer; in addition, some programs devote the entire fourth year to experiential study. Interns undertake the workloads and responsibilities of full-time pharmacists to fully prepare themselves for the workforce.
The difference between an effective and dangerous dose of medication can be small. For this reason, it's important that aspiring pharmacists understand statistics and their relation to medicine. Biological statistics courses cover mathematical computations needed to serve patients correctly, as well as advanced techniques like variance analysis, hypothesis testing and regression. Many schools include a course in biological statistics in the first year of Pharm.D. study.
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