Pharmacy studies prepare students to mix medications, which is a process called compounding. Most people think this is the only duty a professional in this line of work fulfills, but this is not true.
- Pharmacists have to understand and know the side effects of medications, drug dosages, and what the result will be if medications are mixed with other drugs. The preparation of medication can often times mean the distinction between life and death for a patient.
- Other duties include working with doctors and physicians to assist them in prescribing the correct medication. Many pharmacists work directly with patients to put them at ease with taking medications. They accomplish this by providing information about the medication they are taking.
Schooling will have students completing courses in chemistry, physics, calculus, and human anatomy. Other coursework that is related to a student’s future work includes pharmacy law and drug interaction.
Career occupation ultimately determines what level of schooling a student needs to enroll in. The two main career paths for students is either becoming a pharmacy technician or a pharmacist. Working through a program to become a pharmacist opens a wide range of career options while a pharmacy technician will usually perform the same duties in every pharmacy.
There is no formal education requirement to become a pharmacy technician, but most employers prefer individuals that have earned a certificate or diploma.
A certificate program may be set up with ten instructional sets that break down different areas of the career to make learning manageable. Sections can include the profession, drug information, and terminology. For example, a section on pharmaceutical dispensing covers how to use equipment involved in the process and mixing different medication forms. This section prepares a student to understand the difference in mixing ointments and liquid medication.
A certified technician will perform basic clerical functions while working alongside pharmacists to assist them in preparing medications.
The schooling process to become a pharmacist is incredibly more in depth and specialized. Students are required to earn a doctor of pharmacology degree, which is commonly referred to as PharmD. To earn this degree students have to complete at least two years of undergraduate education. This master’s degree level program takes on average four years to finish. Upon completion of this program students can enter careers as community pharmacists, managed-care pharmacists, and institutional pharmacists. An institutional pharmacist works as a member of a team to provide a pharmaceutical plan for an entire institution. They create the medication dispensing method and oversee record keeping to ensure accuracy. This is just one area available to qualified pharmacists inside the industry.