We have heard of pharmacists and chances are most of us have dealt with them in some way or another. But what does a pharmacist do?
Well, pharmacists are an affordable and accessible healthcare resource that often acts as a first point of care in many communities.
Especially now, pharmacists play a critical role in healthcare.
In addition to dispensing medications and helping people get the best results from their prescriptions, pharmacists act as medical counselors, educators, advocates, and much more.
Here’s a look at the role of the pharmacist in today’s healthcare landscape.
What Does a Pharmacist Do?
Simply put, a pharmacist is a healthcare professional that dispenses medication and ensures patient safety.
Every pharmacist is responsible for:
- Ensuring the quality of medication supplied to patients.
- Checking that the medication being dispensed is safe and suitable.
- Ensuring medication dispensing is within the law.
- Advising patients on their medications, when and how to take them, as well as answering any questions a patient might have.
However, the role of a pharmacist is and continues to rapidly expand.
Many chain retail pharmacies now expect pharmacists to act as a local health hub and first point of contact.
This includes providing things like flu shots, COVID vaccines, basic checkups and much more!
Can Pharmacists Prescribe Medication?
The short answer is yes.
In recent years, the pharmacist’s role has expanded to include the ability to prescribe medication, perform patient assessments, and more.
However, it depends on several factors.
For example, what state do you live in? Or what is the medication being prescribed?
Check your state’s laws or consult with your local pharmacist and you might be able to save a trip to the doctor’s office!
Are Pharmacists Doctors?
Yes, pharmacists are doctors. However, they are not MDs.
Every pharmacist holds a professional doctorate of pharmacy or PharmD.
This degree is required to sit for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam, otherwise known as NAPLEX.
In order to become a licensed pharmacist in the United States, you must hold a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and pass all the required licensing exams.
There is a significant amount of effort and work required to achieve a Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
This is one of the many reasons why pharmacists are viewed as one of the most trusted professions.
How to Become a Pharmacist
Becoming a pharmacist is no easy task. It takes an incredible amount of effort and hard work.
However, the requirements are pretty straightforward.
In order to become a pharmacist, you must complete the following.
- A bachelor’s degree in a healthcare related field or a pre-pharmacy program.
- A doctor level pharmacy degree or Pharm. D.
- First-hand practical experience in an approved setting.
- The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam otherwise known as NAPLEX.
- Licensing in your home state which will require a certain number of supervised practice hours. These hours may vary by state.
Once you have completed all these requirements, you will be able to work as a pharmacist.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Pharmacist?
The exact time requirements to become a pharmacist will vary slightly depending on which state you are in.
However, generally speaking it will take around 8 years.
This includes 4 years to complete a bachelor’s degree and 4 years to complete a Pharm. D. program.
If you are able to enter a program after a couple years of undergraduate study then you may be able to start practicing sooner.
Additionally, some Pharm. D. programs will accept students directly out of high school. In this case, the program will only take six years to complete.
Pharmacists are an incredibly important part of our healthcare system.
They protect us, advocate for us, advise us, and much more.
Their knowledge and skill with regard to different medications is vital to the safety and efficacy of any treatment prescribed by a doctor.
Without pharmacists, who knows where we would be.
About NowRx Pharmacy
NowRx Pharmacy is a new kind of local pharmacy built from the ground up to deliver a better pharmacy experience. We use modern technology inside the pharmacy to provide better pricing, better service, and better convenience. Visit our NowRx Pharmacy Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.