In the United States, healthcare technicians are in high demand. Job opportunities for pharmacy technicians are expected to increase by 7% until 2028. That is 37,500 job openings expected yearly. The rising senior population who require drugs and medical care is the main reason for such a growth rate.
Pharmacy is an important aspect of the healthcare business. It deals with the preparation and distribution of medications needed to treat patients. Most people believe that pharmacy professionals only work at medical stores or chemist shops. However, they’re much more than that.
Let’s take a look at your career options if you choose to finish a degree in pharmacy. Hopefully, this article will help you make up your mind about your career choice.
Career Options in Pharmacy
To provide the best service for their customers, a pharmacy needs a lot of experts in the field. While these job titles may appear to be the same, they have differences in education and training. Moreover, each post has its own set of responsibilities.
1. Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians are in charge of many important tasks. But one of their more important jobs is to attend to a customer. A pharmacy technician is usually the first person anyone consults regarding prescriptions.
As per the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), you need at least 600 hours of training. You can finish your training in 15 weeks or more.
Other pharmacy technicians enter the field after finishing pharmacy technology programs at a post-secondary level. Typically, vocational schools or community colleges provide these programs.
After a year of completing the program, most provide a certificate. However, other programs require a longer stay and lead to an associate’s degree. Some programs provide clinical experience, allowing students to have hands-on experience in a pharmacy.
Most states will require a license before you can work as a pharmacy technician. While licensing is not a requirement in some states, it can help you get a job easily. Employers prefer licensed pharmacy technicians and will even pay for them to take the exam.
Two organizations are responsible for licensing. Both require you to take their certification exams to get a CPhT credential. But before you take either exam, make sure you have allotted time to prepare for it. One way of doing so is to answer as many PTCB practice tests as you can.
These pharmacy tech practice tests cover important topics that you’ll encounter on the PTCB exam. You won’t have to worry about which questions will appear on the actual written exam. Not only that, but it takes more than memorizing and understanding concepts to ace the PTCB exam. With pharmacy technician practice tests, your test-taking skills will improve.
To be eligible for the PTCB exam, you need to finish a pharmacy tech program. More importantly, the programs you have taken should be accredited by the PTAC. On the other hand, you can take the ExCPT exam after completing 1,200 hours of supervised pharmacy experience.
You can renew your license from either the PTCB or NHA every two years. The PTCB also requires you to complete 20 continuing education (CE) hours. On the other hand, the NHA needs you to complete 10 CE units.
2. Pharmacy Assistant
Pharmacy assistants have less responsibility than other pharmacy professionals. This is because the profession requires less education and experience.
As a pharmacy assistant, your job varies based on your work environment and state restrictions. Generally, you’ll be tasked with:
- Recording medications that are delivered
- Stocking supplies
- Managing the cash register
A high school diploma is required to work as a pharmacy assistant. Most pharmacy assistants get informal on-the-job training. However, some colleges also offer programs for pharmacy assistants. Companies prefer it if you have completed formal training.
You can start your career as a pharmacy assistant by volunteering at a community pharmacy. This will help you obtain relevant experience and improve your expertise. Some pharmacies provide assistant training programs, but most teach assistants while they’re working.
Pharmacists are highly-trained individuals who are in charge of a pharmacy’s operations. They examine overall prescriptions filled by pharmacy technicians to guarantee accuracy. They’re also in charge of educating patients and ensuring their safety.
Many pharmacy schools offer dual degree programs. This means you’ll get your bachelor’s degree while studying for your PharmD over a six- to seven-year period. After graduating from high school, you can apply for one of these programs.
Other PharmD programs are solely for Ph.D. students. These programs typically take 3 to 4 years and accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree in fields like biology or chemistry. Prior experience as a pharmacy assistant or technician also helps you get into the program.
Following completion of a PharmD degree, pharmacists must pass two licensure tests:
- The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX)
- The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE)
The licensing board in your state will tell you which test you need to take. Make sure you check their website before you apply for the exam.
Why Should You Get a Career in Pharmacy?
The pharmacy profession encompasses science, health care, computer technology, and business. While jobs in science require little public contact, a career in pharmacy combines flexibility and patient connection. If you’re a people person interested in science courses, then being in the field of pharmacy is the right choice for you.
Here are some reasons why you should consider getting a career in pharmacy.
1. Help Improve Your Patient’s Health
Drug adherence and compliance is one of the numerous ways to help patients improve their health. Half of all patients with chronic illnesses do not take their medications as advised. Being a pharmacy professional, you can help them with this important aspect.
Pharmacists play a critical role in attaining improved health outcomes. This includes fewer hospitalizations, disease development, and co-morbidities.
2. Work Within the Healthcare Team
Pharmacists work with other healthcare professionals to enhance patient health outcomes. Having a pharmacist on hospital rounds and in outpatient care settings reduces prescription errors and saves money.
Aside from these, they help in other ways, such as:
- Reduce hospital readmission rates
- Manage chronic disease
- Manage drug treatment
3. Have Growth Opportunities
There are many fascinating breakthroughs in the pharmacy profession. This includes specialist pharmacy, the pharmacogenomics field, and digital advances. Specialty medications are becoming increasingly important in the pharmaceutical sector. Pharmacies in such areas are flourishing as demand grows.
For example, there is an increase in customized healthcare. Pharmacies use genetic testing for genome sequencing and medicine selection based on the patient’s DNA. In addition, pharmacy schools are expanding their instructional resources to meet the demands of their students.
Schools are now integrating e-Patient technologies and artificial intelligence. Such breakthroughs are important as the world adapts to a more digital means of serving people.
4. Help Fight Against New Viruses and Diseases
Pharmacists are trained to spot symptoms caused by new viruses. The accessibility of pharmacies is one of the keys to effective mass vaccination. They also help in medicine supply during emergencies.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has proven the importance of pharmacy professionals. It showed their critical role in avoiding disease transmission, working alongside other frontliners. Moreover, they also help manage the distribution of effective and protected medications.
It doesn’t take much time and effort to start a career in pharmacy. Getting a degree in pharmacy already offers you a wide range of career options that you can choose from. With just a certification program, you can become a pharmacy assistant. And from there, it will be easier to work your way to becoming a pharmacist.
The medical industry is still one of the highest-paid and fastest-growing fields. Getting a career in pharmacy provides a promising future for young professionals like yourself.