Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jul 25, 2018

Help! What Skills Do I Need If I Want to Become a Pharmacist?

Jul 25, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

After graduating from college and working in a given field for years, some people feel bored, unfulfilled or burned out.

Choosing a career is one of the most difficult but most important decisions you will ever make. While some people know right away what they want to become, others go through school or even years in employment before they eventually decide what will best satisfy them professionally.

Maybe you're wrestling with this decision and have thought of joining a pharmacy school to train as a pharmacist. If so, like any career, it's important to research this career path and ensure it's the right fit for you.

Here, we've got some detailed information about the skills required if you want to become a pharmacist, as well as education requirements for the same.

Is Pharmacy the Right Career for Me?

Before deciding to become a pharmacist, let's take a moment to find out if a pharmacy career is a good fit for you.

Simply put, a pharmacist is in charge of getting people the right medications in the right dosages as per a doctor's prescription. They also typically provide advice on how to use drugs and potential side effects.

While we mostly find pharmacists in drug or grocery stores, they also work in hospitals, private pharmacies, and long-term care centers like nursing homes.

What Skills do I Need to Become a Pharmacist?

Education is essential for a successful pharmacy career (more on this later), but before taking a degree program, you need specific innate skills to succeed in pharmacy. Read on to discover more.

Communication Skills

A good pharmacist needs great communication skills and should be able to talk in layman's language to patients, as well as speak professionally with doctors and peers.

They should also be able to communicate with patients no matter the potential language barriers and other diversity factors.

Analytical Skills

As a pharmacist, you'll be handling many tasks. This means you must be prepared for tricky situations where you'll need to make decisions.

Whenever any conflict happens, you'll need to solve it taking everything into account. For example, sometimes when people have issues with medication dosage, you should be able to suggest the right treatment in such cases.

Interpersonal Skills

This isn't just about your capacity to sort out problems unaided. After properly dispensing medication, you'll probably need to discuss the meds with patients.

They might ask for health advice, they might have silly questions about mixing medicines with foods or beverages or certain activities, or they may even ask where the bathroom is.

Whatever the question, you should be able to positively communicate with people when you're on the job.

Attention to Detail

When it comes to being a pharmacist, you must have attention to detail. It's of utmost importance as even a minor error can prove costly.

While it's natural to make mistakes as a human being, the consequences of an error in this job don't only affect the pharmacist. For example, an error in insulin administration could cause absolutely disastrous consequences.

Whether it's entering information into a computer, reading the doctor's horrible handwriting, or measuring ingredients properly, accuracy is critical.

Math and Science Skills

It might sound obvious, but we often underestimate the extent to which pharmacists depend on practical math and science skills.

From calculating tricky variable dosages to working out something as straightforward as how many pills one needs, numerical skills are vital.

The same is true of scientific skills. Pharmacists require extensive knowledge and zeal for biology and chemistry. This is because it's vital to be able to easily understand complex new information when it's available.

Computer Literacy

Most pharmacies today have an internet connection. Computers enable health care providers to give out prescriptions electronically. Similarly, computers also enable easier storage of patient data, inventory counts, and insurance information.

If you want to become a pharmacist, you must be computer literate.

Diplomacy

At some point, you'll meet someone trying to lay their hands on an expired medicine or a restricted drug without prescription too early. Such a patient--especially one with addictive characteristics--may become particularly belligerent and intimidating.

As a pharmacist, you should be able to sort out such situations for the good of everyone. This requires good judgment, diplomacy, and ability to remain calm, taking into account your safety and that of the patient and staff.

Counseling

A good pharmacist can advise patients on how their prescription medications work, as well as what to expect while using them. They help educate people on how medicines help the body.

Financial Expertise

Pharmacists may be in charge of budgets, ordering new stock, and managing other expenses like salaries. This requires excellent organizational skills and some basic practical knowledge of bookkeeping, finance, and taxation.

Education Requirements for Becoming a Pharmacist

You require a Doctor of Pharmacy degree to become a pharmacist. Before you enroll for the Doctor of Pharmacy degree program, you must finish prerequisite coursework in chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, social sciences, and humanities.

You can meet these pharmacy degree requirements in 2-3 years, but you can opt to complete a 4-year Bachelor's Degree in biology or a related field.

It usually takes around four years to finish a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. In the course, you'll learn how to communicate properly with patients and drug information. You'll also learn public health concepts, business management, and professional ethics.

Lab work is also standard in this program. Required classes include:

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacy practice
  • Pharmacy law
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Biopharmacy
  • Physiology
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Therapeutics
  • Pharmacy management
  • Healthcare systems

Final Verdict

A pharmacist is a vital cog in the healthcare machine. Their job covers a wide variety of duties, from dispensing medications to keeping records and taking inventory.

With the vital skills listed above, you will be more than ready to handle the various pharmacy duties and responsibilities.

Although you can learn a lot about the career in school, you'll learn so much more when you become a pharmacist. This is when you'll apply your pharmacist knowledge in real life.

For helpful career insights or to look for any job nationally, keep checking out our blog.