The study of Pharmacy is basically the study of both health and chemical sciences in order to certify the safety and efficiency of pharmaceutical drugs. This involves an education in compounding and dispensing medications as well as the study of clinical services and providing drug information to patients. Pharmacists are experts on drug therapy. Therefore, those looking to practice pharmacy require an intense, structured education as a foundation for their future careers.
The education of a pharmacist usually takes five years to complete. Course are designed to teach students all aspects of drug therapy in addition to patient care and communication with both patients and healthcare providers. Other education focuses include professional ethics, business management, and concepts of public health. Students of pharmacy not only study within the classroom, but also gain real-world experience working alongside licensed pharmacists in various settings.
The field of pharmacy can be divided into three main disciplines:
- Pharmaceutics, the process of creating a safe, effective medication from a chemical entity;
- Medicinal chemistry, the development of pharmaceutical drugs through chemistry and pharmacology;
- Pharmacy practice, the development of pharmacists’ professional roles.
At the end of a student’s education in pharmacy, they must pass a series of examinations in order to earn their professional license and be able to practice. Students of pharmacy education learn how to dispense medications and also advise on their use to both medical staff and patients. Course cover planning, monitoring, and evaluating the programs on which patients are receiving treatment. Some specialties of pharmacy work include geriatric pharmacy, psychiatric pharmacy, and nutrition support.
A Bachelor’s degree is required to practice as a Pharmacist. Pharmacy course begins with the study of basic sciences such as biology in the first couple years. Once this foundation is created, education courses move on to several areas of focus:
- Pharmaceutical chemistry: the study of chemicals prepared and used as medicines, testing such aspects as the purity and strength of a substance;
- Pharmacology: understanding the effects different drugs have on the body, and how to take the most advantage of these effects;
- Pharmacy practice: a study of the processes that take place within a pharmacy, emphasizing the balance between science and technology. This application includes work in the laboratory, and highlights instilling a patient-oriented outlook in students;
- Clinical aspect: courses in the communication which students will have with their patients and awareness of their responsibility to monitor the drugs they will dispense.
Some pharmacists go on to own or manage their community’s pharmacy. This position entails hiring personnel and handling business matters, which is why many pharmacy curriculums include the study of business, including economics, accounting, and marketing. Management may also be valuable within this profession as many pharmacists have technicians assisting them in dispensing medication and must supervise their work.
Career in Pharmacy
The field of Pharmacy offers many excellent job opportunities, but the hours are often different from the routine office job, with many pharmacists working nights, weekends and holidays. They are often on their feet for most of the day, and work in clean, well-lit areas. The role pharmacists play in counseling patients and planning drug therapy programs is also growing as the dispensing of medications increases. Drugstores, grocery stores, and hospitals will have more and more pharmacists as well, creating a positive outlook for those who are job searching in the field of pharmacy.