Important Questions for Aspiring Pharmacists
Qualified pharmacists can work in a variety of clinical or retail settings, and the pay is quite lucrative. As of May 2014, pharmacists' average annual salary was $118,470, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Individuals who excel in this career share several key interests, skills, and traits. See how yours compare:
|Are you interested in pharmaceuticals?||Yes or No|
|Are you prepared for a lengthy college education?||Yes or No|
|Do you have a good memory?||Yes or No|
|Do you pay attention to details?||Yes or No|
|Is science one of your favorite subjects?||Yes or No|
|Do you have strong interpersonal skills?||Yes or No|
|Are you interested in managing people?||Yes or No|
|Are you a multi-tasker?||Yes or No|
|Do you enjoy educating others?||Yes or No|
|Are you dedicated to ongoing learning?||Yes or No|
Why Do These Questions Matter?
Are you interested in pharmaceuticals?
To succeed in and enjoy this career, you should have a natural curiosity about how drugs work and how they're used in medical treatment.
Are you prepared for a lengthy college education?
Pharmacists learn their trade in Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) programs. These programs can take three to four years to complete, and minimum admissions requirements typically include two years' worth of postsecondary coursework. If you want to specialize in a specific area or go into clinical work, an additional residency lasting up to two years might be required.
Do you have a good memory?
Pharmacists fill prescriptions for countless generic and brand name pharmaceuticals for which they need to remember usage and side effects. Pharmacists must also be aware of any possible drug interactions.
Do you pay attention to details?
As a pharmacist, the drugs you provide could mean the difference between life and death for your customers. It's critical that pharmacists be extremely detail oriented in order to provide the proper dosages.
Is science one of your favorite subjects?
Due to the scientific nature of pharmaceuticals, you'll need an aptitude for science and a background in such subjects as biology and chemistry.
Do you have strong interpersonal skills?
Pharmacists spend their days interacting with many people, including physicians, insurance company representatives, colleagues, and customers.
Are you interested in managing people?
Pharmacists are often responsible for supervising others. Depending on the job setting, this can include pharmacy technicians, assistants, or interns.
Are you a multi-tasker?
Because most pharmacists juggle a variety of managerial, customer-service, and prescription-filling responsibilities on a daily basis, you'll need to enjoy multi-tasking and be able to manage stress effectively.
Do you enjoy educating others?
Among a pharmacist's key responsibilities is educating customers about the dosages, impacts, and side effects of the drugs they are prescribed.
Are you dedicated to ongoing learning?
Pharmacists must be licensed by the state in which they work and, to maintain licensure, must complete the continuing education hours mandated by that state throughout their careers.
If you answered positively to more than half of these questions, you might have what it takes to become a pharmacist. In addition to earning a Pharm.D., you'll need to pass two licensure exams and complete an internship before being able to apply for jobs. Examination and internship requirements vary by state.