Top Ten Reasons to Become a Pharmacist

October 16, 2017

When I graduated from high school, I was interested in becoming a Pharmacist. Why, at the time Pharmacists were scarce in certain parts of Texas and I knew that if I finished the program I could have a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in six years. The job I wanted was to work at Albertson’s Pharmacy in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Area where pharmacists were starting out making $80,000 a year, with a sign on bonus of a couple thousand dollars and some enticed with a new BMW.


Off to college I go, I learned that I wanted to be on an alternative path… teaching future Pharmacists. After getting a Bachelors and Master’s degree in Biology/ minor in Chemistry from Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, I worked for a year at Stanford University in Palo Alto California before getting a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Howard University in Washington, DC. At Howard, I learned how to teach well and effectively, gained significant research experience and this was my first time working every problem in a textbook. Yes, I worked every problem in the Advanced Organic Chemistry textbook to increase my grade from an F to a B during my first year of graduate study.


Now I am an Assistant Professor at Harding University College of Pharmacy where I am working at my dream job. I get to train future Arkansas Pharmacists.  The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) posted a list of the Top Ten Reasons to Become a Pharmacist.


1.  I Want to Help People Get Well


Pharmacists play a key role in helping patients feel better and get well as quickly as possible. Patients do best when pharmacists are part of their healthcare teams because pharmacists are the medication specialists. Pharmacists improve medication adherence. They are culturally competent healthcare providers who communicate effectively to evaluate many factors that affect a patient’s ability to take a medication. These include diet, lifestyle, transportation, language barriers and much more.


2. I Like to Work Directly with Patients


Pharmacists are accessible in all healthcare settings: inpatient, ambulatory and community settings. Pharmacists are available to see patients at convenient times every day of the week, during morning, evening and weekend hours, and without an appointment. They are licensed to provide immunizations in all 50 states. Many states also allow student pharmacists to provide pharmacy services under the supervision of a pharmacist. Pharmacists may also provide other services such as asthma care, blood pressure monitoring services, cholesterol screening, diabetes disease management, smoking cessation consultation, bone density scans for osteoporosis screening, anticoagulation management clinics and more.


3. I Enjoy a Wide Variety of Career Opportunities


Pharmacy is a diverse and rewarding career, with opportunities for patient care, scientific research and innovation. Pharmacists can work in a myriad of professional settings. The majority of pharmacists (45 percent) work in an independent or retail chain community pharmacy and provide counseling to patients on the use of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Pharmacists work in numerous other healthcare environments as well, including hospitals, nursing homes, managed care organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, colleges and schools and the federal government. Pharmacists play key leadership roles in all aspects of the healthcare system.


4. I Can Benefit from the Demand For Pharmacists


There is an ongoing demand for pharmacy services throughout the U.S. in most sectors of the profession. The demand is fueled by the following factors:


    Increased demand for patient services. The transition to the doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree for all new pharmacy graduates has increased the type of services pharmacists are able to offer.  Pharmacists are able to work in a wider array of practice settings and positions than ever before.

    Increase in number of prescriptions filled each year. According to the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the number of prescriptions filled increased from 1.9 million in 1992 to 3.9 billion prescriptions in 2013, and in 2015, 4.1 billion prescriptions were filled (projected to be 4.7 billion in 2021). Our society will continue to need more pharmacists to manage the growing number of prescriptions as more medicines become available and the population ages.

    Increase in the number of medicines available on the market. There is a greater selection of prescription and OTC drugs manufactured today than in the past. Multiple medications are often available to treat a single disease. Pharmacists help prescribers and patients decide which medicine will have the most beneficial results. When pharmacists are involved in patient care, outcomes improve and costs decline.

    Increase in the elderly population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 5 Americans will be classified as elderly by 2050. Older patients generally have more chronic illness and more complicated drug regimens than younger individuals. Pharmacists play a key role in helping the elderly patients navigate complicated medication requirements and explore ways to minimize their financial burden.  The aging population has also increased the need for long-term care, geriatric and consultant pharmacists.


5. I Want to be an Important Member of the Healthcare Team


Pharmacists work with other health care professionals to maximize health outcomes. Numerous studies have proven that the presence of a pharmacist on hospital rounds as a full member of the patient care team has been shown to prevent medication errors and reduce costs. Pharmacists provide optimal management of medication for chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, hypertension, etc. The collaboration of healthcare professionals, such as physicians and pharmacists, can help to ensure that patients properly take their medications as prescribed and avoid any harmful effects.


6.  I Can Have Job Mobility, Stability, and Flexibility


Pharmacists are employed in every part of the country. Pharmacy licensure is generally reciprocal between U.S. states, however, additional tests or criteria may be required to transfer licensure status. Pharmacists may be able to establish non-traditional or part-time work hours, depending on the practice setting. Most Americans live within five miles of a pharmacy, so pharmacists are needed all throughout the U.S.


7.  I am Excited to be a Part of Major Innovations in Medication Therapy


One of the many exciting developments in the pharmacy profession is the growth of a discipline, known as pharmacogenomics. Genetic variations in genes can affect a body’s response to a drug. In the future, specialists in this area hope to sequence the entire human gene in each individual. Pharmacists and other healthcare providers will be able to use that information to select the best medicines, treat diseases earlier than now possible, or prevent them entirely with individually-tailored drug therapies.


8. I Want to Work with State-of-the-Art Technology


Digital innovations in pharmacy include electronic prescriptions, robotics for central prescription processing and nationwide prescription monitoring programs, as well as pharmaceutical research. These technological advances enhance efficiency and help to promote patient safety. Pharmacists use these same tools to help prioritize work, manage the dispensing process and spend more time with patients. By law, pharmacists must oversee automated dispensing processes for quality control purposes. Pharmacists can provide innovative approaches to medication management, including recommended therapies, and the identification and resolution of problems with the aid of state-of-the-art technology.


9.  I Can Help Defend Against Bioterrorism


Pharmacists are educated to recognize signs and symptoms of diseases that may be used in a biological attack. The accessibility of pharmacies could be one of the keys to a successful mass immunization or drug distribution program in an emergency. In an epidemic or bioterror situation, pharmacists are prepared to play a major role in preventing the spread of disease and overseeing the distribution of appropriate and safe medications. According to the CDC, pharmacists are equipped with the necessary skills to improve our nation’s health and are vital members of the team in public health initiatives.


10.  I Would Like to Be a Highly Respected Member of My Community


According to recent Gallup Polls, pharmacists’ honesty and ethics were rated as "high" or "very high" by a large majority of Americans. Pharmacists are visible leaders in our community who are entrusted with the health of our families.


Does a career in Pharmacy interest you? I have a sister and brother who were interested in Pharmacy and completed their degrees at Howard University and Texas Southern University. They are hospital pharmacists in Houston, Texas.




Check out Dr. Carrion, an Assistant Professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Pharmacy with his students Click Here  and Harding University College of Pharmacy Click Here.     


By the way, Pharmacists are still needed around the country. Here is a job posting in your state.  Click Here and Click Here.             


 Promoting and Maintaining Diversity in Pharmaceutical Education


Future Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists

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