Clinical Pharmacist Career Information

Read on to discover what a clinical pharmacist does. See what the education and training requirements are for this job, and learn more about job prospects for clinical pharmacists.

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Career Definition for a Clinical Pharmacist

Clinical pharmacists work in hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies where they prescribe medication and recommend necessary over-the-counter drugs after evaluating the unique needs of their patients. Clinical pharmacists then observe the patients' recovery and make sure the medication is working as expected, making changes if there are any unexpected drug interactions or severe side effects.

Required Education Pharm.D or Ph.D.; most states require a license
Job Duties Include prescribing medication, evaluating the needs of patients, observing the patients' recovery
Median Salary (2015)* $121,500 (pharmacists)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 3% growth (pharmacists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Due to the sensitive nature of the work, clinical pharmacy positions require a Pharm.D or a Ph.D. degree on top of a 4-year bachelor degree. It usually takes students between two and four years to complete a Pharm.D. or Ph.D. program. All 50 states have laws stating that clinical pharmacists must have a license in addition to the required education. The criteria for licensure vary by state, but usually include a series of written tests that must be repeated every few years. Students interested in becoming clinical pharmacists should take classes covering chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, psychology, and biology.

Skills Required

Clinical pharmacists need to pay close attention to detail and should have a firm science background. They also need excellent communication skills and must be able to effectively counsel patients about the effects of required medication.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted job growth of 3% for pharmacists from 2014 to 2024, which is below average. The median salary in the field was around $121,500 annually in May 2015. An increased emphasis on using medication to treat a number of mental and physical ailments is expected to create sustained job growth in clinical pharmacy for many years, though an expanding number of pharmacy graduates has increased competition for positions.

Alternate Career Prospects

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Biochemist

Biochemists study cells, how they work, and why the behave as they do. Areas of research may include how certain drugs interact with cells. Biochemists design and carry out research projects, writing up results for presentation to others. They usually have a Ph.D. in biochemistry and possess extensive lab experience. The BLS reports that jobs for biochemists and biophysicists are expected to increase 8% from 2014-2024, and that these professionals earned a median salary of $82,150 in 2015.

Pharmacy Technician

A pharmacy technician may work in a pharmacy or hospital. He or she works under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist to fill prescriptions for customers or patients. Pharmacy technicians who work at a hospital may also deliver medications to patients. Some pharmacy technicians earn a 1-year certificate, while others gain their knowledge and experience through on-the-job training. Certification and licensing requirements vary by state. Pharmacy technician jobs are expected to increase 9% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. They earned median pay of $30,410 in 2015.

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