Clinical pharmacists work in healthcare settings and provide patient care by utilizing pharmacotherapy to promote health, wellness and disease prevention. Those interested in becoming a clinical pharmacist must complete a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) program that generally takes four years to complete. It comprises three years of classroom study, a 1-year internship and a postgraduate pharmacy residency or fellowship program that focuses upon a specialized field of healthcare. This degree prepares students for licensure, which is necessary for employment. Common prerequisites include a 2-year pre-pharmacy curriculum, minimum GPA, personal career and education statements, transcripts, a resume and letters of recommendation. Many prospective candidates have completed bachelor's degrees in biology, chemistry or pharmaceutical sciences.
Doctor of Pharmacy Degree Programs
The curriculum for clinical pharmacy students typically includes courses in areas such as pharmacology, pharmaceutical care, laboratory services and management and also includes a clinical internship. The program is designed to educate and train students in all areas of pharmacotherapy so they will be able to communicate with patients and healthcare professionals within various clinical practice settings. Some courses in the curriculum may include:
- Ethics in professional pharmacy
- Pharmaceuticals and pathophysiology
- Nutrition and pharmaceutical care
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of positions for pharmacists is projected to show little or no change from 2018 and 2028. The BLS noted that the demand for pharmacists would be high due to the increase in drugs prescribed for the growing elderly population in the U.S. (www.bls.gov).
PayScale.com reported in September 2019 that the salary range for most clinical pharmacists was between $100,000 and $140,000. With an emphasis on patient education and the prevention of adverse drug reactions, the field of clinical pharmacy should continue to create many career opportunities.
After completing the doctoral degree, graduates interested in working in a clinical setting must pursue a residency or fellowship program. Some postgraduate training programs require that candidates become licensed to practice before entering the program. Others will accept prospective students who are pursuing licensure.
Postgraduate training programs are usually completed in 1-2 years, involve study in the application of pharmacy practice in specialized areas of healthcare and require the completion of a research project. Students can complete rotations in areas such as community care, managed care, hematology and ambulatory care. Other rotation options include critical care, rheumatology, cardiology, organ transplantation, pediatrics and oncology.
Those interested in careers in pharmacology should complete a Doctor of Pharmacy degree that consists of both classroom work and hands-on experience. In addition to pharmacy related topics, students will also receive training in management and client relations.