Pharmacists should become better utilized as members of the healthcare team. Many people do not realize the level of education and training pharmacists must receive before becoming licensed. Most have received three to four years of undergraduate education prior to undergoing a rigorous application process just to get into pharmacy school.
In most cases this requires maintaining a superior grade point average, scoring well on the Pharmacy College Admissions Test, having co-curricular and extra-curricular activities such as community service, and an on-campus interview.
If accepted into pharmacy school, students then train for either three or four years, depending on the program offered by the college. Regardless of the length of the program, the degree has four years of credits and is a doctoral program, the Doctor of Pharmacy degree.
Many then complete one or two residencies that are each one year in length, most commonly hosted by hospitals. The first year of residency is similar to what medical doctors might undergo in their first year of residency, rotating through all services in a hospital. Different from the medical doctor, the pharmacist focuses on gaining experience in everything associated with appropriate medication use and patient response to medications. If a pharmacist chooses to complete a second year of postgraduate training, they are usually becoming specialized in a specific area such as psychiatry, oncology, nutrition or pediatrics.
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Despite all of this training, they are often underutilized in processing and dispensing medication when they could be doing this and so much more for patient care.
Pharmacists are currently working with states and the federal government to expand their scope of practice in underserved areas or areas that have physician shortages.
Gary M. Levin, founding dean, Larkin Health Sciences Institute, College of