The word Pharmacy comes from the Greek work Pharmakon, which means “drug” or “medicine.” Pharmacy studies began in pre-history with the use of medicinal plants. The field has come a long way. Today pharmacy includes clinical services; providing drug information; and reviewing, compounding, and dispensing medication.
The education of a pharmacist usually takes four years to complete, depending on the degree being attained. Courses 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.
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. Courses 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. Most pharmacy courses begin 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:
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.
Studying pharmacy with a focus on Engineering is a popular study abroad option, and there are a number of education programs available for interested students. Study within this course involves a more scientific exploration of pharmaceuticals, including innovative drug formulation and development.
The study of Clinical courses within pharmacy is an education focused on clinical work in a pharmacy. Programs often start with the study of basic sciences such as biology and chemistry followed by core clinical courses on biostatistics, internal medicine, and the basics of diagnosis.
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. Mail-order pharmacies are also becoming more common in certain countries, such as in the United States, making the process more efficient. 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.
In the United States, a Bachelor of Science (BPharm) degree in Pharmacy will not be sufficient to become a licensed or registered pharmacist in any state. Any college graduate who has graduated on or prior to 2005 is grandfathered and can register, however new students after 2005 must complete the Doctor of Pharmacy program or PharmD.
In order to practice as a pharmacist, the person must be registered with the relevant statutory body, which governs the registration and practice of pharmacy within the territory of its jurisdiction. There is often a requirement for the pharmacy graduate to have completed a certain number of hours of experience in a pharmacy, under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. The statutory body will usually administer a written and oral examination to the prospective pharmacist prior to registration.
In Australia, apart from the four-year BPharm course, there is the option of a postgraduate two-year Master of Pharmacy (M Pharm) course for those with under graduate science degree background.
Pharmacists are registered by Pharmacy Boards in individual states such as the Pharmacy Board of New South Wales. In Western Australia, pharmacists are registered by the Pharmaceutical Council of Western Australia. Individual states have differing requirements for pharmacy graduates for registration, but generally graduates are required to complete approximately one year of practice under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. In addition, graduates are required to complete an approved graduate training course for that state, for example the Pharmacist Graduate Training Course (PGTC) offered by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia NSW Branch is required in New South Wales. On meeting these requirements, graduates are eligible to sit the registration examination which may involve both written and oral components.
In New Zealand, as with other western nations, a four-year BPharm must be completed, followed by an internship at a pharmacy. Pharmacists are registered at the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand. The degree can be taken at University of Otago in Dunedin and University of Auckland in Auckland.
In the United Kingdom, integration with the European Union has resulted in the BPharm and BSc courses being superseded by a four-year course for the qualification Master of Pharmacy (M Pharm). In Great Britain the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain is responsible for regulation of pharmacy affairs and in Northern Ireland it is the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland. Graduates must complete one year of practical training and pass a registration examination before they can be entered on the register of pharmacists, known as the register of pharmaceutical chemists.
Pharmacists registered in other countries can also register in the UK. Overseas pharmacists are required to undertake the Overseas Pharmacists Assessment Programme (OSPAP), a one-year intensive course focused on pharmacy practice in Great Britain. OSPAP authorization can be given by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain and the course is undertaken either the University of Sunderland, Aston University or the University of Brighton. However, pharmacists that have obtained their qualifications and are registered in other countries of the European Economic Area can register with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain without undergoing additional or pre-registration training.
The term pharmacist is protected in the United Kingdom. It can only be used by individuals that are registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
Pharmacist average salary: $80,700
The median hourly rate for pharmacists in Canada is $33.74, but there is not much of a difference in salary for pharmacists with many or few years of experience, according to PayScale.
Most Canadian pharmacists move on to other jobs once they accrue more than 20 years of experience.
Pharmacist average salary: £57,000 to £53,300
According to PayScale, pharmacists in the United Kingdom tend to make around $53,000, but the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimated the average salary at around $57,000 in 2014.
Pharmacist average salary: $107,000 to $118,000
The average salary for pharmacists at around $107,000, US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data from May 2014 pegs it even higher at $118,470.
In contrast, the annual mean wage for all occupations in the United States is $47,230, according to BLS.
The US pharmacist salaries are most affected by geographic location, followed by specific kind of employer and years of experience.
Pharmacist average salary: $83,600
The majority of pharmacists in Switzerland currently have 1 to 4 years of experience, while only 4% of pharmacists have 20 years or more experience, according to PayScale.
While Swiss pharmacists may not be paid as much as their US counterparts, Switzerland is often named the country with the highest quality of life based on indexes such as health care, safety, traffic, and pollution.
Numbeo ranked Switzerland as the country with the highest quality of life in 2015, followed by Denmark and Germany.
Pharmacist average salary: $44,800
Women in Germany make up 55% of the country’s pharmacist workforce, according to PayScale.
German pharmacists are only allowed to own up to 3 locations, so there are no large drugstore chains like there are in the United States.
Most pharmacies in Germany are closed during the evenings, Saturday afternoons, Sundays, and holidays.
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