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Pharmacy is a critical component of modern healthcare. This guide provides information about an online bachelor's degree in pharmacy, which can serve as a pathway to a doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree and other opportunities in the field.
There are a few things to note about earning a pharmacy degree online: First, few U.S. schools offer fully online bachelor's in pharmacy degrees. Most colleges and universities administer pharmacy programs in a hybrid format, which requires students to complete portions of their degree on campus. Second, while pharmacists must hold a Pharm.D. to practice in the United States, completing a pharmacy bachelor's degree online can prepare you for further education or work as a pharmacy technician .
Read on to find out about pharmacy career opportunities, salary potential, accreditation, and the skills and knowledge students gain by completing online pharmacy school.
What Is Pharmacy?
Simply defined, pharmacy is the science of preparing and dispensing medicine. The demand for quality healthcare in the U.S. rises in direct proportion to the aging American population. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians provide a vital link in the delivery of timely and appropriate health services. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 12% growth for pharmacy technician jobs between 2016 and 2026 -- higher than the 7% growth rate projected for all occupations nationwide.
Whether you complete your four-year pharmacy bachelor's online or on campus, a degree in this field opens up several career paths. However, an accredited undergraduate pharmacy degree provides graduates with more than just professional options; it also gives them an excellent foundation for postgraduate studies. Most states require pharmacists to hold licensure and a doctoral degree in pharmacy before they can practice without supervision. Pursuing a doctoral degree often involves another three or four years of postgraduate study, but those you complete their degree can expect a higher median salary ($124,170) than that of the average American worker ($37,690).
Bachelor of pharmacy online curricula from an accredited college or university contain many science courses, including organic chemistry and biology , as well as courses in math, statistics, and scientific research methodology. Students who successfully complete these programs indicate to future employers and graduate admissions boards that they hold the intellectual capacity and determination to follow through on their goals -- highly desirable qualities in the professional or academic world.
Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Pharmacy?
Most states require pharmacists to hold a doctoral degree and license to practice independently, so earning a pharmacy bachelor's degree online is just the first step to working in the field. Aspiring pharmacists should make sure they hold a degree from an accredited college or university. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) as the main accrediting body for online pharmacy schools. Make sure to enroll in an ACPE-accredited program so you can easily take the next step after earning a bachelor's in pharmacy -- whether that means joining the workforce or starting graduate school.
What Can I Do with an Online Pharmacy Bachelor's Degree?
A bachelor of pharmacy online curriculum provides students with timely and accurate industry-specific knowledge, such as a basic understanding of pharmaceutical sciences and drug development. A bachelor's degree in pharmacy, though relatively specific, provides students with a skill set that transfers easily to other professional industries. The next two sections expound on common outcomes expected from undergraduate pharmacy programs and industries that open up to graduates with this degree.
Skills and Knowledge Gained
Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians often face the challenge of explaining highly technical concepts to clients who may not understand these concepts. Online pharmacy school hones students' written and oral communication skills to ensure they can clearly explain technical ideas to a nontechnical audience. Miscommunication between professional practitioners, pharmacists, and clients can create complications, which may result in serious health repercussions. For this reason, prospective pharmacists should develop their communication skills early in their undergraduate studies.
For bachelor of pharmacy online graduates who pursue careers as pharmacy technicians, their duties typically include compounding, packaging, and labeling medications; checking for therapeutic or medicinal incompatibilities; interpreting doctors' written prescriptions; and monitoring drug therapies. These responsibilities require attention to detail and an ability to focus on a specific aspect without losing sight of larger, related issues. A well-designed undergraduate pharmacy curriculum provides students with opportunities to develop this skill as it relates to their future job duties.
Following completion of a pharmacy bachelor's degree online, students may choose to pursue a doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, which is the prerequisite for licensure as a pharmacist in the United States. In addition to working in retail pharmacy, licensed pharmacists can work in research and development. As the industry discovers new drugs or fresh applications for existing drugs, pharmacists must stay current on the growing body of pharmacological research to understand how they might integrate new discoveries and developments with their existing knowledge.
A bachelor of pharmacy online develops students' research abilities and equips them with skills in research design, measurement, and implementation. These skills provide excellent preparation for enrolling in doctoral programs, which require evaluating research findings and carrying out independent and lab-based research.
Careers and Salary Potential
Colleges and universities offering onsite and online versions of the same program typically require students to follow the same curriculum for either delivery method. Therefore, students learn industry-specific knowledge whether they pursue pharmacy training online or on-campus. After completing their degree, students can apply this knowledge to a variety of industries, such as the following:
- Food Manufacturing: Using their scientific background, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists assist food manufacturing companies in developing better preservation techniques to improve the flavor and extend the life of their products.
- Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools: Some institutions hire pharmacy technicians with a teaching license to teach online or onsite courses in general pharmacy, supervise laboratory classes, and train students in using modern pharmaceutical machines and devices.
- Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences: Pharmacists can apply their research training to discover and develop fresh pharmaceutical or practical applications for existing or newly discovered drugs.
- Government: Pharmacists working for government agencies to advocate for the industry by ensuring regulatory policies support safe practices and promote professional standards.
- Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services: Pharmacists working for consulting services analyze and evaluate clients' processes and general industry requirements to develop, implement, and manage sound solutions that meet those requirements.
Annual Median Salary : $31,750
Pharmacy technicians work under the supervision of pharmacists, often in retail pharmacy stores and hospitals. Their duties include compounding or mixing medications, preparing intravenous medications (for hospital inpatients), filing insurance claims, and filling prescriptions.
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