The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an increase in healthcare that will add more than two million healthcare-related jobs to the economy. For employees in the healthcare field, students, or professionals seeking a career change, a bachelor's degree in pharmacy presents many opportunities. With a degree in pharmacy, professionals can work directly with patients or behind a counter dispensing medication.
Pharmacy program curriculum features a mix of math and science courses as well as laboratory and clinical experiences. To accommodate working students, many schools offer distance education courses and programs in pharmacy, making it easier for students to obtain a bachelor's degree in pharmacy. This guide features all the information you need to find the right pharmacy program for you.
Many students with a bachelor's degree in pharmacy enroll in postgraduate programs for their master's or doctoral degree. Some students enroll immediately following graduation while others go on to work in a medical facility. Students should note that a degree in pharmacy does not guarantee a job and many pharmacists possess a doctoral or professional degree. A bachelor's degree provides the foundation students need to complete higher level coursework and understand advanced medical concepts. In this section, we delve into salary and job growth information.
Pharmacists distribute prescription medication to patients. They advise patients by teaching them when and how to take medications. Pharmacists also administer flu shots and other immunizations. Pharmacists work in many different environments. Community pharmacists work in retail pharmacies, they dispense medication and answer questions about over-the-counter drugs. Clinical pharmacists work in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and clinics. Pharmacists must have a doctorate.
Medical scientists conduct extensive research on prescription drugs and their side effects. Scientists work in labs with assistants and lead experiments. Many of these experiments involve other human beings and animals. These experiments, often called clinical trials, test a drug's efficacy, including its potency, required dosage, and other outcomes. These professionals also help manufacturers determine how to mass produce medication. Most medical scientists hold a doctorate.
Biochemists research the human body. They study cell development and growth, using proteins, fats, and molecules to perform tests. Biochemists also study the effects of drugs on cells and body tissues. After working in the laboratory, biochemists turn their findings into reports that detail the experiment from start to finish. Biochemists use their research to solicit funding from different organizations. Biochemists must have a doctorate.
Physicians act as health coaches and advisers to patients. They order diagnostic tests and interview patients to learn of their general physical condition and identify any issues. Many physicians work in specialties such as cardiology, neurology, and dermatology. After ordering tests, physicians update patient charts and create treatment plans. These plans may include medication, exercises, and visits to other specialists. Physicians must possess doctorate.
Sources: BLS 2018
This list showcases job growth and salary data for pharmacy technicians. Salaries differ by state due to many factors including the economy, demand for pharmacy techs, average education level, and experience. Salary data is important because it influences a worker's career path. Students pursuing a degree in pharmacy or considering work as a technician may decide to relocate to a state with higher earning potential and demand.
The following list highlights common courses within a bachelor's in pharmacy curriculum. Keep in mind that course names vary by school but learning outcomes and objectives remain the same. A pharmacy course load features many advanced science courses that students take during their second and third years of study. Course delivery and format depend on the instructor and school. Schools offer classes online, on campus, or as hybrids.
This course examones human biochemistry as it relates to the pharmaceutical sciences. Learners examine disease etiology, disease research, medical diagnosis, drug discovery, and the mechanism of drug metabolism.
Students learn the basic principles of immunology and the causes of immunological diseases. Learners analyze conditions such as immunoprophylaxis and treatments such as immunotherapy. They also discuss gene therapy and genomics.
This course draws from organic chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, and anatomy to explain toxicology, disease processes, and drug actions. Students delve into pathophysiology and pharmacodynamics to learn the therapeutic and negative effects of drugs.
In microbiology, learners study microorganisms. The course helps students understand microbial diversity and their function in society. Students are tasked with identifying and classifying microorganisms.
Learners analyze the human body in its entirety including body tissues, fluids, respiration, endocrine systems, and gastrointestinal systems. Students also investigate medical practices and how professionals use them to fight diseases.
Students entering a pharmacy program should review program requirements, expectations, and format. This Q&A portion answers some important questions. When researching an online pharmacy school, students must consider several factors including the school's accreditation status, faculty, cost, and reputation. These factors greatly influence student experience.
Most schools encourage students to pursue internships while enrolled in a program. Some schools may even require students to complete an internship during one semester of their degree track. For students who want or need a paid job, working as a pharmacy technician or in a lab helps them gain more industry experience.
Usually, schools require at least 120 credits to graduate with a pharmacy bachelor's degree online. The credit requirement includes mandatory core and major classes. The pharmacy program consists of advanced mathematical and science classes. Students also participate in laboratory classes and conduct experiments. Pharmacy curriculum is diverse and schools may add or subtract credits based on degree requirements.
It takes approximately four years to graduate with a pharmacy bachelor's degree online, about the same amount of time it takes to graduate from a traditional bachelor's in pharmacy program. Online students take the same types of courses as on-campus students, including chemistry, biology, and physiology. Online students also participate in clinical rotations and labs. Students must travel to the school's campus to fulfill laboratory requirements.
Most medical programs include a clinical rotation component designed to give students hands-on experience. Students start their rotations during their third year of study and continue throughout their fourth year. In these rotations, students travel off campus to a healthcare facility where they work under the supervision of a provider. Pharmacy students attend local pharmacies as well as hospitals and clinics.
Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in pharmacy enjoy access to many different financial sources. They can apply for loans, scholarships, and grants. Students do not need to repay grants and scholarships. Borrowers must repay loans, but they can apply for high amounts that cover a large portion of their tuition. National associations dedicated to pharmacists provide unique scholarship opportunities to student members. See below for scholarships offered exclusively to pharmacy students.
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) supports professional pharmacists with its national platform. This foundation provides different scholarships to students pursuing a pharmacy degree. Mary Louise Tigue Andersen was a community pharmacist who became a public health adviser and director. Created in her honor, this scholarship gives one student $1,000 towards their education. Each year the association picks a winner that meets certain qualifications. Students must hold at least a 2.75 GPA and maintain membership in the APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists.
The APhA also awards this $1,000 scholarship to members of the Academy of Student Pharmacists. This scholarship is named after Samuel Kalman, an APhA member who worked for 25 years as an executive and senior director of the association. To apply, students must submit academic transcripts, recommendation letters, a resume, a list of their pharmacy and non-pharmacy related activities, and a 500-word essay.
The American Society of Health System Pharmacists commits itself to helping pharmacists who work as providers in acute and ambulatory environments. The ASHP Student Leadership Award gives financial assistance to pharmacy students in their second to fourth year of study. Winners receive a $2,000 cash award, plaque, and a drug reference library. Applicants must be full-time students in an accredited university and ASHP members.
The National Community of Pharmacists (NCPA) started a foundation to handle charitable donations and the organization's scholarship fund. The Willard B. Simmons Memorial Scholarship honors a student who shows interest in independent pharmacy management. The scholarship awards students who want to be entrepreneurs and display leadership qualities. To qualify, applicants must hold membership in the NCPA and attend an accredited U.S. school. Students may apply for one NCPA scholarship per year.
The NCPA awards this scholarship in partnership with the Partners in Pharmacy organization. The Partners in Pharmacy Scholarship recognizes NCPA student members who exemplify leadership attributes and scholastic achievement. These annual scholarships provide pharmacy students with $2,000. Winners receive their awards at the NCPA convention. The association pays for the student's trip accommodations. Submission requirements include transcripts; letters from school officials and a pharmacy manager; a resume; and a letter from the applicant highlighting personal accomplishments.