Pharmacists play an important role in ensuring medicinal drugs are used properly and dispensed safely to the people who need them. Since pharmacists fill prescriptions written by physicians, they must make sure they accurately measure the prescribed and educate patients on how to take or administer the drug. A degree in pharmacy is a good fit for individuals who play close attention to detail, think analytically, and are willing to walk the long educational path required to prepare for their career. Online degree programs in pharmacy are making pharmacy programs more accessible to working professionals who need the flexibility of a distance education format. Students who prefer a traditional Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program can still benefit from distance education by enrolling in online pre pharmacy degree programs.
When choosing a program students should make sure they consider only accredited online pharmacy degree programs. Schools of pharmacy and pharmacy programs should be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Students who are not interested in a career as a pharmacist may wish to pursue a career as a pharmacy technician, who assist licensed pharmacists in dispensing medications, packaging and labeling prescriptions, taking payments for prescriptions, and doing other routine tasks such as answering phone calls. Students interested in this profession, which requires less schooling, may want to explore online pharmacy tech degree programs.
Online Associate Degree Programs for Pharmacy
Although one cannot become a full-fledged pharmacist after completing an associate degree, an online associate degree program may prepare someone for a career as a pharmacy technician. For instance, the pharmacy technician associate degree offered by Rasmussen College is fully online and features courses in customer service, U.S. healthcare systems, medical terminology, pathophysiology, pharmacology for Allied Health professionals, and pharmacy math and dosages. Online degree programs in pharmacy technician should prepare students to pass the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam so they can continue along their path to working as certified pharmacy technicians.
Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs for Pharmacy
While online bachelor degree programs in pharmacy are not common, bachelor’s programs in pharmacy are available traditional brick-and-mortar colleges and universities. However, it isn’t necessary for a student to major in pharmacy at the undergraduate level provided he or she takes all of the pre-pharmacy courses necessary for acceptance to pharmacy school, including English composition, biology, microbiology, general and organic chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology, calculus, statistics, and more. Other required pre-pharmacy courses are speech, economics, and psychology. Since pre-pharmacy courses in the hard sciences typically require labs students should expect to complete their lab requirements on campus.
Online Master’s Degree Programs for Pharmacy
Online masters degree programs in pharmacy are designed for seasoned pharmacy professionals who want to specialize in a certain area or equip themselves with new and innovative skills. Master’s programs may also be a good fit for those looking for accelerated online degree programs in pharmacy. For instance, the University of Florida’s online Master of Science in Pharmacy allows students to specialize in medication therapy management and complete their degree in as few as 18 months. Courses in this program cultivate a student’s ability to apply medication therapy management principles to a patient’s cardiovascular, endocrine, neurological, and respiratory systems. Online programs such as these may still have residency requirements in which students must attend site-based seminars and meet with professors face-to-face.
Online Doctor of Pharmacy Degree Programs
Online Pharm.D. programs are blended programs that allow students to complete the majority of their course work online while also requiring clinical rotations at approved sites. For instance, Creighton University’s online Doctor of Pharmacy allows students to take their didactic courses online while requiring eight five-week clinical rotations in various subject areas. The curriculum in this program includes calculations in pharmacy practice, pharmaceutics, health systems and patient safety, microbiology and immunology, pharmacotherapeutics, pharmacokinetics, and more. Creighton’s program devotes an entire professional year to clinical rotations in areas such as community pharmacy practice, inpatient hospital pharmacy practice, and adult acute pharmaceutical care.
Online Degree Programs in Pharmacy in the Work Place
The majority of pharmacists work in pharmacies. However, some are specialized, such as clinical pharmacists, who work in hospitals and other clinical settings, and consultant pharmacists, who provide professional advice to healthcare and insurance clients, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisticsm (BLS). Working as a pharmacist requires an accredited Pharm.D. and licensure in the state where one practices; the licensure process requires an individual to pass two exams, the BLS explained. Pharmacists earned a median yearly salary of $111,570 in May 2010. However, salaries can vary significantly based on a pharmacist’s experience, type of employer, and other factors. Job growth is expected to be faster than average over the current decade, with 25% employment growth projected from 2010 to 2020.