How To Become a Pharmacist in the USA?

In the USA, there is no federal law that would concern pharmaceutical education and the qualifications of a pharmacist. There is also no federal body that would deal with the pharmaceutical education system. Each state has its own requirements for obtaining such a degree. Laws that regulate pharmaceutical activity in the USA still exist, but each state has its own regulations taking into account the specifics of each area. Also, Americans have long stopped corruption trends by eliminating the ability to assess knowledge by professors and associate professors of educational institutions. For achieving this, the assessment of students is conducted by the State Board of Pharmacy. Oral exams are withdrawn.How To Become a Pharmacist in the USA_

Pharmacist as a profession

In the United States, a PharmD can be obtained after finishing a college of medicine. The US board is not legally regulated which institution should be called a university, a college. Therefore, pharmaceutical colleges of a 4-year study can be either part of a university or a separate higher educational institution.

A student cannot enter the college of medicine immediately after school is finished. You must first complete the 2-3-year preparatory courses for pre-pharmacy or pre-professional. You can pass them in any accredited institution: Technical, Community Colleges or Junior Colleges. Each pharmaceutical college has its own requirements for the disciplines that need to be studied in preparatory courses, so before starting this course, it is important to coordinate the training program with the necessary for entering a university. Usually, the required subjects for study are mathematics and basic sciences (chemistry, biology, physics), some social and human sciences.

During admission to the College of Pharmacy, you must pass the Pharmacy College Admission Test, which is a multiple-choice test divided into 6 sections:

  • verbal abilities;
  • chemistry and biology teats;
  • computational skills;
  • reading comprehension;
  • two written sections.

All sections consist of 48 questions. 30 minutes are given to complete each section. This exam can be taken only 5 times, you need to register yourself on the website. The cost of one attempt in 2016 was equal to $199.00.

Educational programs

The main training course involves getting a qualification level in the required specialty at a pharmaceutical college. The last bachelor’s degrees in the United States were received in 2004–2005. Now educational institutions train only pharmacists with one single qualification level – a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD).

Over 6 years of study, students study:

  • pharmacology;
  • clinical pharmacy;
  • pharmacognosy;
  • pharmaceutical chemistry;
  • toxicology;
  • pharmaceutical administration;
  • biostatistics;
  • pharmacokinetics;
  • therapy.

It is possible to choose disciplines, to form an individual curriculum and to study modern optional disciplines (autotherapy, nuclear biology, the basics of evidence-based medicine, stereochemistry, pharmaceutical psychology, etc.).

Having passed a series of exams and received a basic pharmaceutical education, the pharmacist is granted the degree of Doctor of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PharmD). But for further work, it is necessary to go through a postgraduate training cycle. It lasts 1-2 years (depending on specialization) and represents practical training in:

In total, there are about 400 such programs. Pharmacists who intend to open their own pharmacies will also need to additionally obtain a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The American Society of Hospital Pharmacists (ASHP) is an accreditation body for hospital pharmacists (except for pharmacists providing social care services and retail pharmacies). Most residency programs are accredited by ASHP.

In order to get a job, future pharmacists need to get a license. This requires passing a series of additional exams and tests, the list of which is determined in each state separately.

The process of obtaining a license looks like this:

  • passing a residency (postgraduate training cycle);
  • passing an exam to obtain a pharmacist license (North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination – NAPLEX);
  • passing an exam in law and other examinations, appointed in each state additionally.

Then, you will be issued a license to practice in the state. NAPLEX lasts 4 hours 15 minutes with a break of 10 minutes after the first 2 hours of the exam. You must score at least 75 points, that is, answer correctly to 162 questions.

Additional training requirements

Every student should additionally pass the Federal Multi-State Pharmacist Licensing Exam (MPJE). It covers aspects such as licensing law, drug law, company law, and other regulations. The exam lasts 2 hours. As a result, you also need to score 75 points by answering at least 77 questions.

Additionally, a Disease State Management (DSM) exam can be assigned. This is a computer test that determines the level of knowledge according to the standards of treatment of patients with common diseases, such as dyslipidemia, diabetes mellitus, asthma, etc.

Every 2 years, pharmacists are required to take 40-hour retraining courses.

There is also a special graduate school for those wishing to engage in science, which lasts 2-3 years. You need to carry out scientific work. There are no classes for a daily visit. At the end of the training, it is necessary to defend labor. In the case of its successful defense, a Ph.D. degree is granted.

Category: Health Care

Tags: healthcare, healthcare system


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