Overview of Pharmacy
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- Professional responsibilities
- Is pharmacy a possible career for you?
- Professional education
- Required coursework
- College major
Pharmacists are drug information experts who:
- Dispense medications
- Monitor patient health and progress
- Educate consumers/patients about prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
- Advise physicians, nurses, and other health professionals on drug decisions
- Provide expertise about the composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties and their manufacture and use.
- Ensure drug purity/strength and help prevent harmful drug interactions
On their website, the American Pharmacists Association provides information on over 20 career pathways for pharmacists.
Do the following words/phrases describe you? If so, pharmacy may be a good fit:
- Enjoys working with people
- Conscientious and dependable
- High ethical standards
- Strong communication skills
- Would like to work with other health care professionals
- Interested in the chemical, biological and physical properties of medications
- Would like a well-compensated career ($94,520 national median salary)
- Degree Offered: Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D).
- Years of Study: 6-8 years (2-4 years undergraduate education plus 4 years professional education at a college of pharmacy)
- The majority of programs accept students after three or more years of college and the completion of college course prerequisites; some pharmacy schools require or give preference to applicants with a baccalaureate (B.S./B.A.) degree
- Pharm.D graduates must pass a state licensure exam as well as a national pharmacy law exam in order to practice
Courses required for admission vary significantly from one institution to another. The following courses are mentioned frequently as being required and/or recommended:
- 1 year biology with lab
- 1 year inorganic chemistry with lab
- 1 year organic chemistry with lab
- 1 year English (including public speaking and composition)
- 1-2 courses in physics with lab
- 1-2 courses in calculus
- Courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, economics, statistics
Some courses may not be available at Northwestern University and may have to be taken elsewhere. Please review Required Premed Coursework for some common course prerequisites.
For information on specific pharmacy schools' requirements see:
- Pharmacy School Admissions Requirements (PSAR) - Available online; a copy of the PSAR is also available at the UAAC.
- Pharmacy coursework prerequisites by school (PDF) - This chart is compiled by the AACP.
- Directory of pharmacy schools' requirements - PharmCAS, the centralized pharmacy program application service, provides this service for their participating schools.
Pharmacy students come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds. Applicants are not required to major in "pre-pharmacy" or any specific major in college to be eligible for admission to a pharmacy degree program.
However, because pharmacy programs vary so much in required coursework, students should begin researching possible programs early to determine if their choice of major will fulfill all or most of the pharmacy requirements. If the pharmacy prerequisite courses are not required as part of an applicant's undergraduate major, these courses will need to be completed as electives.