Pre-Pharmacy

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Major in Pre-Pharmacy

Acticle by Rachelle Wiggins

“It is a privilege to be made by God in a certain way and…be able to serve his people, mirroring that Jesus was a healer and that we are following in His footsteps.” ~Nancy Shoenborn, M.D.

Pharmacology is the branch of medicine concerned with the uses and effects of drugs on the human body. A pharmacologist must be fully trained in the sciences and able to clinically apply this learning in order to achieve positive patient outcomes. While physicians prescribe medications to patients, it is the pharmacists who possess expert understanding of the biochemical and physiological effects of these medications, including the possible risks when these medications interact with one another. Therefore, part of a pharmacist’s job includes being an unofficial educator of doctors and patients as medications are dispensed and affects are monitored. It is a multi-faceted profession, demanding strong skills in communication and business management, in addition to broad scientific knowledge.  In order to practice pharmacology, a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) is required. Though not the only possible major accepted, a pre-pharmacy major offers a natural preparatory foundation for pharmacy school.

So, beyond a solid science aptitude, what other skills and traits are necessary for success in this rigorous major?

  • Knowledgeable. With thousands of approved drugs on the market and an ever-changing array of new medications, it is imperative to stay informed as an ongoing learner so that you earn trust by your competency.
  • Ethical. Not every decision you make as a pharmacist is clear-cut and sometimes you are called upon to make a tough judgement call. In these times, it is important to have a sound sense of moral reasoning and responsibility.
  • Compassion. At the core, this motivation is what drives a pharmacist to give excellent care. A patient’s wellbeing must remain the primary goal and a successful pharmacist is one who acts as an empathetic physician/patient liaison.
  • Attentive to detail. When you consider that people’s health and very lives hang in the balance it is clearly important to be careful and aware at all times.
  • Motivated. A pre-pharmacy major is not for the faint of heart! The program is challenging and requires hard work and perseverance, and this same motivation must be present in your future pharmacy career, as well.

A typical pre-pharmacy major takes four years to complete, although some schools offer programs that combine a bachelor’s degree with doctoral learning, allowing you to complete all your training in five or six years. Generally, a pre-pharmacy major can expect plenty of lab time, hours of research and a required internship. While obtaining core classes in the humanities and social sciences, you will also take plenty of math and science classes including:

  • Microbiology
  • Calculous
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Statistics
  • Anatomy & Physiology

Often when you envision a pharmacist you picture someone in a white coat standing behind a counter to help customers. But the retail-end of pharmacy is only one part of the total equation. Well-trained pharmacists also find employment in hospitals, extended care facilities, internet pharmacies, senior living centers, non-profit health organizations and mental health facilities. Their expertise is needed in pharmaceutical education, research and development roles and in the manufacturing arena. Obviously, there is a diverse spectrum of employment opportunity in a field where the market demand remains stable and steady. Pharmacists report that the rewards of the career are immense and satisfying!

If God has wired you for scientific understanding, coupled with a desire to offer help to those around you, then maybe the next right step for you is straight into a pre-pharmacy major.

 

           

 

 

 

 

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!