Different Types Of Pharmaceutical Education

When most people think of a pharmaceutical education, they assume that they would then become the person standing behind the counter at the local drugstore who hands over bags of medication day in and day out. It’s a job that might look a little less than exciting. But it’s not the only job available to people with degrees in pharmaceutical sciences.
The pharmacist behind the counter of your local drugstore actually has a doctoral degree, called a PharmD, or doctor of pharmacology. This is the equivalent to the more well known PhD, just in the pharmacy field. But there are other people working behind the counter at a pharmacy, and those people may be either pharmacy technicians or pharmacy aides.
Pharmacy aides or assistants are the lowest-ranked job. These individuals are not allowed to dispense medications and their primary purpose is as support staff for the pharmacy. They deal with customers and computer systems and generally help keep the system working properly. The education to become a pharmacy aide is either on the job only, or a certificate program, usually from a 2-year college. Some 2-year degrees are available as well, but generally it is a certificate program. These programs can help people find jobs, but are not always required.
Pharmacy technicians are the next rung on the ladder. They dispense medication according to the orders of the pharmacists and the doctors who call in prescriptions. They are also responsible for bottling and labeling the medication after they have measured out the correct quantity.
Technicians are not required to have any special type of education and many receive on the job training. But to become a certified pharmacy technician, which is a requirement for some jobs, technicians must pass a test called the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam. The preparation for the exam may be on the job, but more likely, it would be a program through a 2-year college. To maintain the certification, the technician must complete a certain number of continuing education units per year in the field.
The pharmacist is the person who knows the most about the medications in the pharmacy, and has the most responsibility. Besides dispensing drugs, pharmacists must help customers with side effects, maintain records and supervise the pharmacy.
The education to become a pharmacist is extensive. The PharmD is a 4-year program in pharmacy science that a student enters after completing either 2 years of college-level coursework or a bachelor’s degree, and taking an exam. After the program is over, they must then take another exam to become licensed pharmacists.
Growth in the pharmacy industry is expected as more and more of the population becomes elderly. Elderly people take a lot of drugs, so pharmacists, technicians and aides are in demand. But these jobs generally require a fair amount of time spent working at night and during the weekend, so keep that in mind when considering a pharmacy career. If you’ve decided you can handle that and would like to enter the field, then enjoy your pharmaceutical education.

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