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A future in Pre-Pharmacy
By Amber Gragert
Pre-pharmacy or pre-pharm is the term used to refer to the undergraduate program of study that prepares students for a 4-year Pharm.D. program otherwise known as pharmacy school - to then, of course, become a pharmacist. Your actual degree may be in biology, chemistry, biochemistry or even a non-science degree - as long as the core science prerequisites are completed, along with the courses involved in your major degree plan. With it being a challenging program, it is important for students to choose a major they already excel in and build upon that.
In terms of course work needed to get into the program, students will have to complete a full year of organic chemistry, which will give you the solid foundation needed in the building blocks of life. In scientific terms, those would include molecules of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen. Students will also study molecular structure, bonding and synthesis of compounds as well as take courses in: anatomy and physiology, general biology, calculus, general chemistry, physics and statistics. All of this has applications in pharmacology and answers questions like: Why do certain medications make some people drowsy, why it is important for pregnant women to avoid certain medications and how medications work in our bodies or what types of responses or interactions can happen.
So, what do pharmacists do exactly? They are considered "medication” experts and their main concern is public health in the context of medication distribution, medication usage and disease state management. That being said, dispensing medications prescribed by physicians, as well as educating physicians and the public about proper drug use, are their main duties. Through this, they play a vital role in improvement of patient care via medicines and the related information of those medicines they provide.
"The best way to find yourself is by losing yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Ghandi
With the growing population of elderly people there has also been a growth in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries – which, of course, then increases the demand for trained pharmacy professionals. Another reason the number of pharmacists in healthcare services has increased is due to them- the pharmacist- also becoming more actively involved in drug therapy management for patients of any age in recent years. One needs to be a person of good character who is caring, compassionate, patient, a "people person", self-motivated and a person with great communication skills. Maintaining a high grade point average and being a focused student would be very important with this degree program, and the major will be intense and rigorous.
Even without going to a pharmacy school to specifically become a pharmacist, students that graduate with their degree and having completed a pre-pharmacy program, could have future employment opportunities as: an anesthesiologist, clinical specialist, drug informational specialist, geriatric care manager, health services specialist, hospital administrator, medical technologist, nuclear medicine technologist, nurse practitioner, patient advocate, pharmacy technician, pharmaceutical sales representative, phlebotomist, substance abuse counselor, surgical technologist and any other number of things!