Pharmacy Careers

Dawn Papandrea | May 8, 2008

One of my friends from high school just came back home from her semester at school. Unlike most of my friends, she didn’t graduate this semester. Now, this isn’t because she just couldn’t cut it – she’s actually super busy in a six-year intensive pharmacy program. When she graduates officially in two years, she’ll have her doctor of pharmacy and will be able to go out into the world as a pharmacist.

A lot of us go into school, not knowing what we want to do. And even if we have an idea, it’s very likely that that will change throughout our four years at school. My friend basically had to know that she wanted to do this when she was 17 years old, when she applied for the program. She was admitted and has kept up with it ever since. I really admire her for sticking to her guns! She’s always very busy with schoolwork and it’s all pretty interesting. Let’s examine the career…

Pharmacists don’t just fill prescriptions, you know. They must have a working knowledge of all the drugs out on the market, while being the go-to person for healthcare information. What kinds of drugs interact negatively with each other? Which prescriptions should people not take because of allergies? This profession carries a large responsibility in handling the lives of many people and, as a result, it’s very important to pay attention to detail. One wrong move, and it can cost someone their life. But that likely won’t happen since pharmacists have much experience and training.

Since the end of high school, my friend has worked at CVS in the pharmacy as an intern to get hands-on experience. A pharmacy isn’t the only place pharmacists work, however. They can also do research at pharmaceutical companies and work in hospitals. Throughout school they take basic science classes, including biology and chemistry. As the years go on, students take more specialized pharmaceutical classes, with professors who are specialists in each topic. My friend’s last year will be spent doing various rotations at different locations. Here, she will get very specialized experience that will prepare her for a career in pharmacy.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), pharmacists held about 230,000 jobs in 2004 and the number continues to grow. It estimates that a career in pharmacy will grow faster than the average career by 2014. The median wage in May 2004 was $84,900, as reported by the BLS.

Looks like a good career to get into, especially if you like the medical field but don’t want to go as far as getting your M.D. If you like helping people you’ll definitely like a career in pharmacy, as you deal constantly with others and helping them with their prescriptions (depending on your place of employment, of course). I had coffee with my friend the other night and she’s definitely dedicated to her profession. She’ll spend her summer interning and reading up on all the drugs so that she can get a good handle on them and what they do, she told me. She’s moving along on the path to a successful career in pharmacy.

-Amanda Fornecker