Careers – Consider a Career as a Pharmacist

Consider a Career as a Pharmacist

What is Pharmacy?

Pharmacists working in different settings mix and dispense prescribed medications and provide consultative services to patients and other health care professionals.

Pharmacists may work as individual practitioners or as part of health teams that include physicians, nurses and rehabilitation professionals, social workers, and dieticians.

Pharmacists are detail- and task-oriented individuals that often need to synthesize a great deal of information and are avid problem solvers.

As health care professionals, pharmacists are responsible for the optimal use of drugs and ultimately improve an individual’s quality of life.

Education and training

A baccalaureate of science degree in pharmacy is required. Pharmacists also require supervised clinical practice under the guidance of a licensed pharmacist.

In order to obtain licensure, pharmacy students require a pharmacy degree and the successful completion of a national board examination that is administered through the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada. Like many health professions, pharmacy is regulated across the country through a provincial or territorial governing body.

Admission information and requirements

There are 10 Canadian faculties and schools of pharmacy: Memorial University of Newfoundland, Dalhousie University, Université de Montréal, Université Laval, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan, University of Alberta, and University of British Columbia.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association recommends that applicants contact the school of their choice directly to get specific information. Most entrants to a pharmacy program have an undergraduate university degree. Admission to pharmacy programs at Canadian schools is competitive.

The University of Alberta has a four-year baccalaureate of science degree in pharmacy. Entrance requirements include a letter of intent explaining an applicant’s interest in pharmacy.

Moreover, they must have one year of post-secondary study with courses taken in inorganic and organic chemistry, English, calculus, biology, biochemistry, and statistics. The one year of post-secondary studies is not included as part of the baccalaureate degree in pharmacy.

Where pharmacists work

Pharmacists work in a variety of settings. Students in Canadian pharmacy programs are provided with a course that allows them to discover the many different options available. Most commonly, they can be found working in pharmacies and in retail stores with a pharmacy department.

These community pharmacists work in dispensing prescribed medication and offer patients consultative services. Furthermore, they have a registry of poisons and narcotic and controlled drugs. In Alberta, 80 per cent of pharmacists work as community pharmacists.

Industrial pharmacists take part in the research and manufacturing of new pharmaceuticals. Positions range from sales to clinical research to professional relations employment. Often, pharmacists in this sector develop and implement educational material for other health care professionals and patients alike.

Druggists also work as consultants to the government. Some work for the military or pursue clinical specialist practices such as in psychiatry, cardiology, or pediatrics.

In addition, they may be employed as part of public health units, with food and drug inspection services, or as part of professional and regulatory bodies. Further, they may work in directing students, assistants, and technicians in providing optimal care to patients.

Salaries and demographic information

According to Service Canada, pharmacists earn $32.47 per hour in Canada. In Alberta, part- and full-time pharmacists earned from $53,900 to over $120,000. The mean yearly income was $83,900.

Women comprise 59 per cent of pharmacists, and 18 per cent of pharmacists worked part-time in 2004.

The majority of pharmacists (86 per cent) were between 25 and 54 years of age, while 11 per cent were older than 55 and 3 per cent were age 24 or younger.

For more information regarding a career in pharmacy, please visit the Canadian Pharmacists Association website.

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