According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the American College of Apothecaries, an apothecary is a pharmacist. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation states that during colonial times, apothecaries performed the duties of a doctor, prescribed and prepared medicines, served as midwives and performed surgeries. Today, however, the term applies to those who prepare and dispense prescription drugs, have vast knowledge regarding the ingredients in medications and advise physicians and patients regarding the use and side effects of drugs, according to the BLS.
Earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. It is best to choose a major related to science or pre-medical studies, such as chemistry or biology. Majoring in science or a pre-medical field can help improve you prepare and improve your chances of gaining entrance into a pharmacy school.
Pass the Pharmacy College Admission Test, or PCAT. Passing this test will help you gain entrance into a pharmacy school. The PCAT has six different sections that measure your verbal and quantitative abilities, your knowledge of biology and chemistry, reading compression and written communication skills. The essay section of the PCAT requires test takers to offer a solution to a science, health, social, political or cultural issue. Each essay receives scores based on length, writing skills and the ability to explain the solution to the problem presented.
Enroll in a Doctorate of Pharmacy, or Pharm.D, program at a pharmacy school. The pharmacy school must be at a school of pharmacy or college accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, according to the BLS. A Pharm.D program usually takes four years to finish and teaches students about different facets related to drug therapy. Students also learn about business management, professional ethics, communication skills and public health concepts. Pharm.D programs also provide students with the opportunity to work alongside licensed pharmacists in different environments.
Complete a one or two-year fellowship or residency program. After graduating with a Pharm.D degree, graduates must a complete a training program that helps them prepare for their individual pharmacy specializations. The amount of time it takes to complete a residency or fellowship program depends on the graduate’s specialization.
Obtain a license to practice pharmacy. The BLS states that all pharmacists in the U.S. must have a license. To obtain a license, graduates must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, or NABP, which measures pharmacy knowledge and skills. The BLS also states that 44 states require aspiring pharmacists to pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam from the NABP, which tests graduates on their knowledge of pharmacy law. Additionally, a graduate’s respective state may require additional examinations and/or background checks a graduate must pass.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; 29-1051 Pharmacists; March 2010
- American College of Apothecaries: ACA Mission Statement
- The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation: Apothecary
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Pharmacists; December 2009
- American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy: Pharmacy College Admission Test
- Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images