A Comprehensive Guide to Your Future Career as a Pharmacist

Created by Pharmacists for Tomorrow's Pharmacists

When Considering Pharmacy

Pharmacists are medication experts.  Like the physician is responsible for medical care and the nurse is accountable for nursing care, other healthcare team members trust the pharmacist to provide pharmaceutical care. This is the most exciting time in history to be a pharmacist. 

Pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenetics are rapidly advancing, and personalized medicine is no longer limited to cancer treatments. With gene therapy on the horizon, the potential to cure, not just treat, a wide range of conditions is within reach. As the most accessible healthcare team member to the public, pharmacists have a unique opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle and enhance patient care, making this an exciting and fulfilling career path. 

You can make a difference in the lives of others, and we can help you figure out how to accomplish this goal.

To get you started, we suggest beginning with our articles on the following topics:

Choosing a PharmD Program

A Doctorate of Pharmacy degree is highly versatile.  After completing a PharmD program, your doctorate of pharmacy degree can open many traditional and non-traditional doors.  

Unlike many other advanced medical degrees, the advantage of the pharmacy degree over many other advanced health science degrees is that it can lead to career fluidity.  

Consider an endocrinologist, a medical doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating health conditions related to body hormone problems. This endocrinologist may have dedicated thirteen years of their life to training, starting from 4 years of undergraduate study, four years of medical school, three years of medical residency, and two years of fellowship.  In contrast, a pharmacist can specialize in endocrinology in as little as half the time after 6-8 years of education and 1-2 years of pharmacy residency, offering a more efficient path to a rewarding career.  

The pharmacist can then leverage that clinical experience to pivot to a completely different disease state, such as rheumatology (a field dedicated to managing diseases affecting inflammation of the bones, muscles, joints, and other internal organs). This fluidity reduces burnout, which is unfortunately all too common in the medical community today.  

If you are considering the pharmacy school decision, we suggest beginning with these articles:

Applying to Pharmacy School

Even though pharmacy school has gotten easier to get into in the last several years, choosing a program that matches your specific goals and needs has never been more critical.  Programs vary significantly in requirements and focus.  Some programs highly encourage you to pursue residency, some encourage you to pursue industry, and some prepare you for a career as a retail pharmacist. 

It’s imperative that your career goals align with the program’s focus. We will help you understand the variability in the program requirements and best position you for success in your future career.

To get you started, we suggest beginning with these articles:

Pharmacy Career Exploration

A pharmacy program prepares you for success in a variety of workplaces. Choosing a particular program may prepare you for one setting over another. The pharmacy field is quickly growing, with career opportunities and specializations more abundant than ever.  You may want to pursue a traditional pharmacist role as a retail pharmacist in a chain retail pharmacy, or you may want to pursue developing a novel gene therapy to cure a previously fatal disease.  The possibilities are truly limitless.  It has never been a more exciting time to pursue a career in pharmacy.   

Personalized medicine has expanded far beyond cancer treatments. Gene therapy is opening up the possibility of curing—rather than treating—many conditions, syndromes, and diseases.  The pharmacist is often the most accessible healthcare team member to the general public, and the pharmacist usually has the greatest opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle and enhance patient care. Pursuing a career in the field can make a difference in the lives of others.

As you consider the pharmacy career path, we suggest beginning with these articles:

Are you interested in a particular pharmacist role? Jump to these articles:

Becoming a Licensed Pharmacist

The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) is the final step for you to begin practicing as a pharmacist in the United States. Administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), the NAPLEX assesses your knowledge and skills in pharmacy practice. The exam focuses on ensuring you can perform tasks essential to the pharmacy profession, such as verifying prescriptions, managing medication therapies, and providing patient care.

Upon earning your PharmD degree from an accredited pharmacy school, following graduation, you must apply to take the NAPLEX through the NABP, which includes registering and paying the exam fee. In addition to passing the NAPLEX, most states will require you to pass a pharmacy law exam, the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE), and complete a defined number of clinical hours.

Once you meet these requirements, you can apply for licensure through your state board of pharmacy, officially becoming licensed pharmacists ready to embark on your professional careers.

If you have or are preparing to graduate from your PharmD program, we encourage you to review our articles on the NAPLEX.