By Ola Issa, Roosevelt University College of Pharmacy ’18
The average person might assume that the daily life of a pharmacist includes standing inside of a large retail store, counting pills before dispensing them to a patient. Little does he or she know, pharmacy includes a wide array of job settings that require an extensive background in clinical knowledge and clinical practice.
Pharmacists are the medication experts who work with other health care providers to ensure that patients receive the most appropriate medication based on their specific diagnosis, labs, and general health. Additionally, pharmacists are available in hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical industries, home-care agencies, and insurance companies, to name a few.
There are two ways to be accepted into pharmacy school: students who already know that they want to become a pharmacist can apply to a 6-year program at the end of high school. If they are accepted, they take two years of prerequisite coursework, then begin pharmacy school. This exempts students from the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). If a student does not get accepted into the program, or decides on a career in pharmacy later in his or her education, then he or she is required to take all of the prerequisites, the PCAT, then apply to pharmacy schools using an online application process called PharmCAS.
The Roosevelt University College of Pharmacy provides students with a truncated program, so I will be able to obtain a PharmD in three years, rather than the traditional four years offered by most other schools throughout the country. Roosevelt University students take coursework during two summers to compensate for the shorter program.
Dedication and determination are key aspects for success in obtaining a PharmD. On Monday through Thursday, we spend approximately 6-7 hours in classes focusing on medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutical care, pharmacology, pharmacotherapy, and health policies. On Fridays, we complete Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE), which are similar to unpaid internships in order to gain practice in different fields of pharmacy. IPPEs are required every Friday for the first two years of pharmacy school.
During our third year, we do not attend classes but are instead assigned to Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE). During APPEs, we are required to gain more specific experience for about 40 hours a week in different settings such as hospitals, ambulances, and numerous other locations where pharmacists are required.
After graduation, pharmacists take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) in order to begin their careers. Graduates are also required to take a law exam to receive their pharmacy license. Maintaining a strong motivation for academic achievement is essential for success in pharmacy school, and becoming a pharmacist is a lifelong learning process that requires commitment to the field.