There are many ailments, disorders, and diseases that can only be treated with medications. Pharmacists are trained experts in the uses, effects, dosages, and applications of medications. Physicians diagnose patients and then consult with pharmacists to ensure they are prescribing the correct medications. Pharmacists fill prescriptions, advise and inform customers about their medications, and work with insurance companies to ensure that each customer is able to receive the medications they need.
Success in your career as a pharmacist begins with a high-quality education. Pharmacists are required to earn a Ph.D. from an accredited pharmacy program and obtain state licensure. In these programs students learn about pharmaceutical principles and concepts and how to apply them to the systems of the human body and the various disorders that can arise. Students learn about the interactions medications can have with other medications, which allows them to ensure that customers taking medications will not be harmed when introducing a new medication. An online PhD in pharmacy degree program should familiarize students with ethics, procedures, policies, and laws that apply to pharmaceutical practice, as well as the administrative duties that may be required of a pharmacist.
About Online PhD Programs in Pharmacy
An online PhD program in pharmacy typically takes four years to complete, but many accredited pharmacy schools are offering three-year accelerated programs. These programs are typically offered in a hybrid format, which is a combination of online and on-campus study. Your online coursework will be writing intensive, requiring extensive reading and research on the various concepts of pharmaceuticals and how to apply them to the systems of the body and treat various conditions and disorders. The following are some of the classes found in the University of Florida's accredited online doctor of pharmacy program:
- Foundations of Pharmaceutical Care. This course introduces students to pharmaceutical principles, skills, policies, procedures, and the various body systems.
- Circulatory Disorders. This course teaches students how to apply pharmaceutical care to circulatory disorders, such as cerebral vascular thrombosis, hypertension, and anticoagulation.
- Cardiac Disorders. Students learn the concepts of pharmaceutical care as they apply to congestive heart failure, myocardial infarctions, congestive heart failure, and other cardiac disorders through this course.
- Endocrine, Hematologic, and Women's Health Disorders. This course covers the pharmaceutical concepts as they apply to a variety of areas, including breast cancer, hyperthyroidism, gynecological malignancies, leukemia, and adrenal insufficiency.
- Protective and Structural System Disorders. In this course students learn how to apply pharmaceutical concepts to immune system conditions, such as sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, and dermatological disorders.
- Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders. This class focuses on applying pharmaceutical concepts to neurological and psychological disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.
Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Pharmacy
Earning a PhD degree in pharmacy is considered to be valuable because it can lead to a successful career. On average pharmacists earn six-figure salaries and can find employment opportunities in a number of industries. Furthermore, pharmacists are able to work with physicians and customers to ensure there is a thorough understanding of what each needs. Knowledge of pharmaceuticals and the ability to accurately fill prescriptions and provide information to customers is vital for the health and well-being of many individuals.
Critics of this degree often say that the amount of time and effort put into earning a doctoral degree in pharmacy are not worth the outcome. They argue that higher-paying careers can be gained through less-vigorous degree programs. Others claim that a career as a pharmacist tends to be tedious and stressful as professionals constantly deal with frustrated doctors and patients.
Application & Admission Requirements
Accredited pharmacy PhD degree programs typically require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university that meets the pre-pharmacy requirements, which includes prior coursework inbiology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, immunology, and microbiology. Each school has a minimum grade point average (GPA) and experience requirements including working as a pharmacy technician or completing supervised internships. The type and amount of required experience varies by program. Most schools require you to pass the Pharmacy College Admissions Test. If all of this is sufficient, you will be called in for at least one interview, usually held on campus. The outcome of the interview will determine if you are accepted into the program.
Career Options & Job Market
Once you earn your Doctor of Pharmacy degree through an accredited program, you must obtain licensure, which is required in all states. This involves passing two exams, one is a skills and knowledge exam and the other covers pharmacy law. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities can be found at hospitals, grocery stores, and department and other merchandise stores, although the majority of pharmacists work in pharmacies and drug stores. The BLS reports that the median salary for pharmacists is a little more than $111,000 a year, and employment is expected to increase 25% through 2020, which is faster than the majority of occupations. Keep in mind that what you earn and the availability of employment will depend on several factors, including your industry, employer, location, and amount of experience.
Where to Find Information
- National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations The NASPA works with state pharmacy associations throughout the nation to promote the sharing of information, policies, and resources to promote leadership and learning and improve the pharmaceutical industry and public health.
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmancy The AACP works to advance the pharmacy profession through education, research, practice, and service by collaborating with all of the accredited pharmacy schools in the nation.
- Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education The ACPE is the national accreditation organization of pharmacy degree programs consisting of a 10-member board that evaluates the programs to ensure they are of high quality and will fully prepare students for a career.
How to Get Funding
Earning a doctor of pharmacy degree is expensive, but there are several financial aid programs that can help pharmacy students earn their degrees. The American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education offers seven fellowship programs that students can apply for, such as the First Year Graduate School Fellowships in Pharmaceutical Science and Pre-Doctoral Fellowships in Clinical Pharmaceutical Science. Tylenol offers their Tylenol Future Care Scholarship to medical students. Many institutions' colleges of pharmacy also offer scholarships for their graduate students. Other financial aid options include the following:
Federal Direct Stafford Loan.
Offering 6.8% fixed interest rates on loans up to $20,500 per academic year, this aid program allows students to pay for their Ph.D. program with a low-interest loan.
- Federal Perkins Loan. Through this aid program, students are granted average loans of $3,500 per year with fixed interest rates of 5%.
- Campus-Based Aid. The institution you choose to attend will offer federal financial aid (as long as the institution is accredited), as well as their own financial aid programs, though these campus-based programs vary by institution.
- Pharmacy students need to have a good memory because memorizing medications, their uses, applications, side effects, active ingredients, and more are essential to the success of a pharmacist.
- Customers come to pharmacists seeking information about their prescriptions and advice about medications to treatment their ailments, side effects they may be experiencing, and safety information for using certain medications, so pharmacists need to be effective communicators.
- A pharmacist typically has at least one pharmacy technician assisting them, as well as other staff members, so managerial skills are important.
- Filling prescriptions accurately is a vital role for a pharmacist. Giving a customer the wrong medication or amount can have dire consequences, so pharmacists need to be detail oriented.