Should you go to pharmacy school to become a
I’m going to give you some reasons why it’s a great idea to become a pharmacist.
There are so many things you can do with a pharmacy degree.
A lot of people think of a pharmacist as somebody who works at a Walgreens or CVS
pharmacy behind the counter and hands you prescriptions while giving you advice on how to take
That is one thing that you can do as a pharmacist, and that can be
rewarding, especially if you enjoy people.
If you like seeing little kids and helping the public, retail pharmacy is a great place to be.
You can work one or two days a week and make as much money as many
people who work five days a week.
If you are a mom and you want to spend some time with your kids, pharmacy is a great profession. There are a lot of companies that will allow you to work when you want to work.
There are also places that you can work as a pharmacist besides retail pharmacy, let’s talk about some of those.
Hospital pharmacy is different than retail pharmacy. The advantages are you have more clinical input with regard to drug therapy. The doctors ask you a lot more questions and it is more intense. There are specialties you can go into within the hospital as well.
You might want to be an ICU pharmacist or an emergency room pharmacist. You can
specialize in working with mothers and newborns or chemotherapy. There’s a lot of different things that a
hospital pharmacist can do.
Most hospitals are open 24 hours a day, so there’s a chance that you may have to work evenings and overnight.
That is the downside of hospital pharmacy, but it is the type of hospital pharmacy I really enjoy.
I’ve worked in hospitals for a large part of my career.
A lot of pharmacy schools are pushing residency right now, especially for hospitals. I can tell you that I just hired a pharmacist that hasn’t even graduated from pharmacy school. It is not true that you cannot get a hospital job without a residency. There may be some cities where it’s more difficult to do, but it’s certainly not impossible. They’ve been advocating for residency for years, but I have personally witnessed many pharmacists getting hired without it. Don’t think you must do a residency to get hired at a hospital.
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Every pharmacy needs a manager. You can be the manager of a drug store, a hospital pharmacy, a compounding pharmacy, etc. Pharmacy managers keep the pharmacy staffed, look over the profit and loss statements, figure
out how to be more productive and how to save money. They manage the staff, do evaluations, and are usually involved in many projects. Managers often spend a large portion of their days in various meetings.
Pharmacists can work in academics. You can be a pharmacy instructor. A lot of people like this job because it’s Monday through Friday, nine to five, and the stress probably isn’t as high. You get to teach the new generation of pharmacists how to be successful which can be very rewarding.
Ambulatory Care Pharmacy
Ambulatory care clinics are usually connected to a hospital system. These pharmacists work in a clinic and see patients. They help them with various types of drug therapy. Ambulatory care pharmacists specialize in anticoagulation, hypertension, psychiatry, diabetes, HIV, and other chronic illnesses.
Ambulatory care pharmacists usually work Monday through Friday during the day.
Compounding pharmacists make drugs that are not available by bigger manufacturers. They make creams, ointments, suppositories and other dosage forms that are not commercially available. They may need to make products to remove ingredients that a patient is allergic to. They may also make medications that are on backorder from the manufacturer.
A lot of people don’t know about nuclear pharmacy. This is what I did for about 12 years of
my career. Nuclear pharmacy is where you make, test, and distribute radioactive drugs for diagnostic
What are the advantages of this type of pharmacy? You usually get paid more and you don’t deal with the public.
Disadvantages include being on-call, which I did not like, poor working hours, and radiation exposure.
Long Term Care
Another type of pharmacy is long-term care. These pharmacies distribute drugs to nursing homes, memory care
units and skilled nursing facilities throughout the area. As a pharmacist, you would double check the
prescriptions that the technicians enter into the computer system, and check the
bubble packs. You can also consult, which I kind of enjoyed, and that’s where
you go into the nursing home and make sure that they’re doing things the way they’re
supposed to do. Are the medications appropriate for the patient? You make
recommendations based on age, renal function, lab values, etc.
The last type of pharmacy that I want to talk about is telepharmacy. This is where you work from home, sign into a computer and verify orders from multiple hospitals, possibly in multiple states. When I did this, I had
a license in 15 different states, and worked for nine different hospitals simultaneously. Telepharmacists process orders and dose different drugs based on hospital protocols. You can also work for insurance companies or retail pharmacies as well. So there are opportunities for pharmacists to work from home. The disadvantage of telepharmacy is the pay is less and the hours are less than ideal. If you want to stay home with your children, this could be a good option.
Should you take the plunge and go to pharmacy school? The answer to that question is up to you. As described in this post, there are many different opportunities available. The work schedule is flexible depending on the field of pharmacy you choose. I have always had more than one job ever since I’ve been a pharmacist. This has allowed me to make a pretty good living.
Pharmacists help people. It makes you feel good knowing that you’re helping your patients and the healthcare system
in general. If you’re interested in pharmacy, the one thing that I would strongly recommend is going to a pharmacy and shadowing a pharmacist. When I went to pharmacy school, I had no idea what I was getting into.
I wanted to be a veterinarian but ended up as a pharmacist. I am not complaining, pharmacy has been good to me.
Decide what you want to do and go for it. I think pharmacy is a great career.
If you have any questions about pharmacy school or if you want to talk to me directly, send me an email at:
Michael J. Brown, RPh, BCPS, BCPP
Mr. Brown is a Clinical Pharmacist specializing in pharmacotherapy and psychiatry.
Feel free to send Michael a message using this link.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click on, or make a purchase through a third-party link.