What is a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)?
A Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) is a professional doctorate in pharmacy. In some countries Nigeria, it is a first professional degree and a prerequisite for licensing to practice the profession of pharmacy or to become a clinical pharmacist. In many countries they are allowed to practice independently and can prescribe drugs directly to patients. A PharmD program has significant experiential or clinical education components in introductory and advanced levels for the safe and effective use of drugs. Experiential education prepares graduates to be practice-ready, as they already have spent a significant amount of time training in areas of direct patient care and research. A PharmD graduate is entitled to prefix their name with “Dr.
How long is a PharmD program?
The Pharm D scope is very wide, a PharmD program is generally four to 6 years long. Typically, students interested in becoming a pharmacist take two years of undergraduate prerequisite courses then apply to pharmacy school. Keep in mind though that most pharmacy schools require a bachelor’s degree to ensure applicants are adequately prepared for the rigor of a PharmD program. Be sure to check the requirements for each school you plan to apply to.
Is a PharmD program the same as a PhD program?
No. A PharmD program is not the same as a PhD program. Though both programs are similar, they are quite different. A PharmD program is tailored for those who want to become pharmacists, while a PhD program is tailored for those who wish to pursue a career in research.
A PharmD program trains students for careers as pharmacists. The curriculum primarily focuses on gaining knowledge of the biological sciences with a clinical component that teaches future pharmacists to be health care providers; whereas, a PhD in a pharmacy related topic is more research focused and gives students the opportunity to pursue their own original research project. Many students take at least five years to complete their PhD coursework and dissertation, while a PharmD program is typically 4-6years long.
PharmD Career Opportunities
In terms of career paths, PharmD graduates typically work in a patient care setting, while PhD recipients primarily hold positions in academia or in pharmaceutical research settings. Following are some of the numerous and diverse career options available to PharmD graduates:
Clinic Pharmacy Practice
In many clinics that serve diverse segments of the population, pharmacists are integral members of the health care team whose contributions have been shown to optimize patient outcomes while being cost effective. Working in partnership with physicians, pharmacists increasingly assume responsibility for medication therapy management especially for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure aiming to help patients achieve desired therapeutic outcomes through appropriate medication usage, diet and lifestyle choices.
Community pharmacists are often on the first line of health care. In addition to dispensing medications and monitoring patients for adverse effects and interacting drugs, pharmacists provide important counseling services, such as the proper selection of over-the-counter medications and/or referral to other health care providers. Today’s pharmacist also must be versed in alternative medicines. Many graduates own independent pharmacies or have advanced to management positions within retail chain pharmacy organizations.
Geriatric pharmacy specialists are those pharmacists that have special knowledge in the care of older adults. Geriatrics is the branch of healthcare that focuses on our unique needs as we age. Just as pediatricians specialize in the health needs of children, geriatricians specialize in the health needs of older people. Geriatricians also often work with a whole team of fellow geriatrics health professionals, including nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, and many others.
Local, state and federal governmental agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Veterans Administration and the Armed Forces require the expertise of skilled pharmacists. Many graduates work in hospitals and clinics within these agencies.
Home Health Care
Patients formerly treated in a hospital setting are now receiving professional care in their residences through home health care. PharmD graduates who work in this field of pharmacy provide medications, such as intravenous antibiotics, pain management medication, nutritional supplements and chemotherapy. Pharmacists also monitor the patients’ progress and adjust therapy as needed.
Many graduates pursue careers in hospital pharmacy where they are directly involved in patient care. Pharmacists in hospitals monitor and adjust patient medications and work closely with physicians, nurses and other health professionals to determine the most appropriate drug therapy possible. Clinical pharmacists may specialize in a variety of areas of pharmacy practice, including pediatrics, critical care, cardiology, surgery, psychopharmacy, neurology, infectious disease, drug information and transitions of care. Graduates bring to the hospital setting a strong clinical education background, and the ability and confidence required for direct involvement with patients and other members of the health care team.
Broadly stated, managed care is planned, comprehensive and integrated provision of health care in a cost-effective manner that emphasizes preventive care. Optimization of drug therapy, development of drug formularies, evaluation of therapeutic protocols, patient consultation, and reduction in unnecessary doctor visits and hospitalization are all responsibilities of pharmacists who practice in the managed-care environment.
Modern drug therapy is highly sophisticated, and the pharmaceutical industry recognizes the need for technical proficiency among its sales and marketing personnel. Additionally, the area of research and development provides numerous opportunities for pharmaceutical scientists, including drug isolation and synthesis to formulation, packaging and quality control of the finished dosage form. Because of their expertise in drug therapy and their knowledge of the health care delivery system, graduates of pharmacy are actively recruited by major pharmaceutical manufacturers.
Society’s demand for graduates with specialized knowledge in pharmacoeconomics is steadily increasing. The demand for such scholars exceeds the current supply, providing a wealth of opportunities for graduates in Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy program. Graduates often choose academic positions at university schools of pharmacy, or opportunities in public administration, public health or medicine. A strong demand for specialists also comes from government agencies, insurance plans, managed health care organizations, professional health care associations, hospital administration departments, health care consulting organizations, pharmaceutical companies and international organizations. Pharmacoeconomics faculty teach PharmD students, providing them with exposure to the field.
Specialized Area Opportunities
Pharmacists with expertise in specialized areas such as consulting, legal practice, drug information, poison control and pharmacy affairs are becoming more in demand as the profession evolves. At many schools , students have an opportunity to pursue a range of dual and joint degrees in combination with the PharmD to better prepare themselves for many of these specializations.