Planning a Career in Pharmacy
If you have a sincere interest in people and health, modern pharmacy offers outstanding opportunities for professional service and personal achievement. Pharmacists find opportunities in many areas: retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy and in research with governmental agencies or industrial pharmacy. Many pharmacists pursue careers in operations and management with chain pharmacies. Others choose hospital pharmacies and are involved in dispensing drugs for patients, monitoring for drug interactions and allergies, and a host of other clinically oriented roles.
The U.S. Public Health Service is employing increasing numbers of pharmacists to work in agencies that fall under its jurisdiction and pharmacists also work as consumer safety officers for the Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, pharmaceutical manufacturers often utilize pharmacists as sales representatives or in research and development.
For you to become a pharmacist, your education following high school will normally consist of a minimum of two years as a prepharmacy student. Most prepharmacy students complete three or more years of undergraduate training before starting a pharmacy program. Some pharmacy schools do give preference to students who have earned a bachelor’s degree. As your undergraduate training concludes you will apply to a school of pharmacy for an additional four years of training. The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) is awarded upon successful completion of the professional program.
Any Georgia College courses that satisfy the Core Curriculum requirements for Areas A-E are acceptable in the prepharmacy curriculum. Math courses including Calculus and Probability & Statistics are required. In the sciences one year of biology, one year of general chemistry, and one year of organic chemistry are required. You do not need to major in Chemistry, or another science major, in order to apply to Pharmacy school, although many students do.
Prepharmacy requirements may vary from one school of pharmacy to another, so students are cautioned to check carefully with the admissions counselors of the pharmacy school that they wish to attend.
Preparing for Admission
All pharmacy colleges require students to complete the prepharmacy education described above. In addition about 2/3 of U.S. pharmacy colleges require their applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT). In Georgia, Mercer University-Atlanta, The University of Georgia, and South University School of Pharmacy-Savannah require it.
The process by which interview candidates are selected at these colleges utilizes PCAT scores, grade point average, and the recommendations from the student’s pre-pharmacy adviser and other professionals. Most of the applicants that are accepted will have either shadowed a pharmacist or have worked as a pharmacy technician.
A final part of the application includes the letters of recommendation to support it. Thus, at Georgia College it will be important for you to get to know your prepharmacy advisor. Your advisor will write a letter in support of the academic side of your application. Other letters speak to your interest and competency to become a pharmacist. Obviously, then, it is critical that you know your prepharmacy advisor and the pharmacist or pharmacists that will write these letters. In particular, this is why you should plan on working with a pharmacist while you conclude your undergraduate studies at Georgia College.
All applicants should be prepared for an on-campus interview with members of the Admissions Committee and currently enrolled pharmacy students. During the interview, students may be asked to discuss their academic background, reasons for selecting pharmacy as a profession, plans upon graduation, work experience, leadership experience, and extracurricular activities. Verbal and written communication skills also will be evaluated.