How to become a pharmacist is a question being asked by many people attracted by a career which has a high potential for income and unquestioned longevity and durability. There is a need for pharmacists now, and there will be no less a need for them in the coming years. In fact, the need for medical services will only increase as the population ages, technology improves and new drugs are developed.
Satisfying this high demand for new pharmacists is not going to be easy, as this is never going to be an easy career to break into. There are strict educational requirements which can never be lessened, so the need is to help more students who want to qualify as pharmacists to do so. Those wondering how to be a pharmacist will first need to know that there is a requirement for a university level of education, and that a four year training program is virtually mandatory. Even this is only possible once you have carried out your pre-graduate studies, so the road is a long and hard one. An understanding of how drugs work and the signs to look for in patients to see if the drugs are working, or whether they are producing side effects, are a vital part of the pharmacist job description.
In most developed countries there are two distinctly different types of pharmacist. The first is sometimes known as a community pharmacist, and alternatively as a dispensing chemist or retail pharmacist. This type of pharmacist is usually based in an independent store which is not allied to any hospital or health company. They dispense the drugs which are given to the patient by prescription, and they also sell over the counter medicines which do not need a prescription. These pharmacists are far less likely to come into contact with an emergency situation, as most of the customers will be buying routine prescription drugs.
This type of pharmacist will still need to know how to deal with an emergency situation when one occurs, as someone could easily be taken suddenly ill and come in off the street for assistance. The correct approach in these situations is nearly always to summon emergency assistance as quickly as possible, but having access to drugs and a knowledge of how to use them can come in extremely useful. Pharmacists in this situation can also put into use their knowledge of how patients react to certain drugs, knowing when to continue and when to quickly cease treatment.
The other type of pharmacist is contained within a hospital, and when you are learning how to become a pharmacist it is important to know the role you want to train for. A hospital pharmacist is far more likely to be working under pressure and in situations where choices have to be made quickly. The hospital pharmacist will need to work in conjunction with doctors to make sure that the correct drugs are prescribed at the right time, and that the treatments are maintained. If the pharmacist can take on this role, the vitally important time of the doctors is freed up.
One of the most important elements in learning how to become a pharmacist is to learn to quickly spot signs of how a drug treatment is working. Some perfectly valid treatments will simply not agree with a certain patient, and the side effects can be too severe. If the pharmacist knows what to look for, these treatments can be discontinued as quickly as possible and replaced with alternatives. The pharmacist can also see when dosages need to be increased to cope with worsening symptoms.
Becoming a pharmacist involves a long and dedicated study of the use of drugs and the effects they can have on patients. Pre-graduate study will be needed, followed by four years of study at a university. It will be helpful if you know in advance which type of pharmacist you want to become, although this is not absolutely necessary as you will be studying much of the same material. The university courses which allow you to become a pharmacist have traditionally been taught on a campus, but there are now many opportunities for studying at home.
The largest barrier to career success which mature students have traditionally faced is that they needed to complete a four year course at a college where full residence was needed. Now, with online study options the task of qualifying is made far more practical. You can continue to live at home, and you can continue to work in your existing career and earn money. If you want to succeed with online learning, you will need to be the type of personality which can be self motivating, and you will also need to be able to devote time and find a quiet area to work in. If you have these, you are ready to learn how to become a pharmacist.