Why Should One Become a Pharmacist?
The healthcare industry in India offers a variety of opportunities to job seekers interested in medicine beyond just MBBS. Unlike other professions within healthcare, the role of a pharmacist comes with a wide range of options. One can choose to enter retail stores and help people understand their medication while also exploring business opportunities. Likewise, one can join a pharmaceutical company and participate in research and manufacturing that would also give them the opportunity to discover new life-saving medicines.
The role of a pharmacist is intertwined with tech, providing opportunities for those who have aptitude for both. It guarantees continuous growth in terms of learning and job opportunities. This is because pharmaceutical companies are constantly working towards solving complex health issues through their products. One can also choose to focus on academics and become a professor of the subject.
Pharmacists enjoy stability in whichever roles they choose to follow. This includes in terms of salary and finances, but also the chosen work environment. Since being a pharmacist is also considered a part of essential services, one can expect the gratification of helping people along with the community support required to sustain oneself in today’s economy.
What Are the Duties of a Pharmacist?
A pharmacist could be working out of a retail store or in a laboratory, their primary duty is toward the well-being of their patients. They could do this by maintaining stocks of medicines and ensuring only quality medication was provided.
As a retail store pharmacist, managing purchases and inventory is one of the most essential duties of a pharmacist. Since understanding the dosage of medicines is essential for the recovery of a patient, pharmacists also ought to ensure that they are able to explain this to their patients in easy language. They must also make sure that addictive drugs are not supplied to patients.
Likewise, within the pharmaceutical industry, pharmacists must participate in understanding the usage of medicines, appropriate dosage, clinical trials, and also in the areas of marketing to promote new medicines. Once a new medicine is created, pharmacists are also involved in quality control checks and testing.
What Are the Skills Needed to Become a Pharmacist?
A pharmacist’s job involves varied activities that require tasks such as working with people, managing different drugs, and keeping track of the latest developments in the healthcare industry. Let us look at some common skills that would help any pharmacist:
1. Interpersonal Communication:
Whether a pharmacist is working independently in a dispensary or with a team in an industry, they must be able to have effective communication. While working in dispensaries, they must be able to interact with patients calmly and explain to them the way the medicines must be taken. As patients may have different temperaments, pharmacists should be able to maintain their composure and help them with their queries or pain points.
2. Multi-tasking and Management:
Considering the dispensaries in hospitals or independent retail stores, pharmacists would need to manage inventories, budget, accountable records, and also handle the staff working with them. They would also need to develop marketing skills when running their own pharmacies as they need to earn the appropriate revenue to keep their business stable and continuing to grow. This could also mean opening franchises for famous pharmacy companies.
3. Scientific Aptitude:
Pharmacists should be able to not only understand a diagnosis and medicines, but have the capacity to recommend alternatives to medicines with the same composition. This would also require a pharmacist to pay attention to detail and have an in-depth understanding of chemistry and biology, so as to break down complex information and make it accessible.
4. Medical Writing and Research:
While working in pharmaceutical industries, pharmacists are required to have strong research skills that will enable them in solving complex medical problems. They would also be required to write research papers, technical documents related to drug usage and side effects, and document any clinical trials and test results effectively. Thus, such skills will come handy in this role.
How to Become a Pharmacist?
If you have decided to become a pharmacist, there are some essential academic milestones that you must achieve.
First, it is important that you have pursued the science stream in your secondary education (10+2). This means that you must study physics, biology, and chemistry to be eligible to pursue a career in pharmacy. However, along with that, it is essential that you also study mathematics.
There are several paths that you can pursue after secondary education in pharmaceutical studies. However, each of these options would determine the salaries that you would receive when you join the workforce as a pharmacist.
Diploma in Pharmacy
The first option is to pursue a Diploma in Pharmacy (D.Pharm). This is an absolute requirement for anyone interested in working in a dispensary, retail store, or even starting their own store. This is a two-year diploma and based on the universities, one would require to write entrance examinations or sit for interviews.
In case you change your mind in the second year of the diploma, you also have the option of migrating into a graduation programme.
Graduation in Pharmacy
If you are someone who is interested in the pharmaceutical industry, a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy (B.Pharm) is essential. In the unreserved category, a candidate must have at least 50% marks in Physics, Chemistry and Biology to join the graduation programme. While some institutes may provide admission on merit, others choose to conduct admission tests. Some such entrance examinations include GPAT (Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test). Some states like Karnataka have their common entrance tests called KCET. These examinations are usually conducted in the months of April to June every year.
B.Pharm is a four-year graduate programme and focuses on developing students’ aptitude in biochemical sciences as well as business in healthcare.
Post-Graduation in Pharmacy
Like any other course, a Master’s degree in Pharmacy (M.Pharm) would also greatly affect your chances of being hired and allow you to demand a higher salary. It will also open several more options for employment. Universities usually conduct entrance examinations to admit students to the programme. Students must score at least 55% in B.Pharm to be eligible to write the entrance examinations. Again, these examinations are usually conducted in the months of April to June every year.
M.Pharm is a two-year rigorous postgraduation programme that prepares students for every aspect of medicine and diagnosis.
Doctorate in Pharmacy
Gaining expertise in any field is always a plus point when entering the job market. A doctorate in pharmacy (PhD in Pharmaceutics) will not only allow you to be recognised as an expert, but would also help you apply for lecturer roles in the future. Students must score at least 55% in M.Pharm to be eligible to write the entrance examinations for PhD in Pharmaceutics. Based on the cut-off decided by universities, students will then be invited for personal interviews. Only selected candidates will be able to enrol in the doctorate programme.
Apart from educational qualifications, any aspiring pharmacist must also obtain a state license and register themselves as a pharmacist before working. Although the eligibility criteria for each state may differ, candidates can apply for only one state’s license at a time.
Breakdown of B.Pharm (Bachelors in Pharmacy)
Within B.Pharm, there are four types of courses available: Bachelor’s of Pharmacy (Regular), Bachelor’s of Pharmacy (Lateral entry for D.Pharm students), Bachelor’s of Pharmacy (Hons), and Bachelors of Pharmacy (Ayurveda).
Below are some of the subjects covered in the syllabus for B.Pharm regular during the four-year graduation in pharmacy course.
Employment Opportunities and Salaries Available for Pharmacists
After completing their education, pharmacists who wish to join the pharmaceutical industry have various job profiles as their options. These include, but are not limited to:
- Clinical Researcher
- Medical Writer
- Drug Therapist
- Health Inspector
- Research & Development Officer
- Drug Technician
- Drug Inspector
- Hospital Pharmacist
- Medical Representative
- Pathology Lab Assistant
Depending on the job roles, the salaries within the pharmaceutical industry range from ₹4 lakh to ₹10 lakh per annum.
Listed below are some Indian and international pharmaceutical companies that students can apply to for employment:
Frequently Asked Questions About Pharmacy
1. Which are some top universities abroad to study Pharmacy?
Some of the top universities abroad to study pharmacy are University of Oxford (United Kingdom), Harvard University (USA), and University of Toronto (Canada).
2. Is NEET score required to pursue B.Pharma?
No, NEET examination score is not required to pursue B.Pharma. Universities usually provide admissions based on the 10+2 results and any entrance examinations that they have conducted.
3. How is B.Sc Chemistry different from B.Pharma?
While both are graduation courses, B.Sc Chemistry is focused purely on Chemistry whereas B.Pharma covers Biology, Chemistry, and other technical areas within its purview. However, both the courses open various employment opportunities for the candidates. The choice of course depends on a candidate’s interest.
What Is the Fee Structure for the B.Pharm course?
The fee structure for the B.Pharm course varies across government and private institutions. Some examples are given below:
Are There Loans Available for B.Pharma Courses in India?
Since Bachelors in Pharmacy (B.Pharma) is a course that opens many doors for employment, several banks are eager to provide loans to students to pursue this course. This includes:
- State Bank of India Student Loan Scheme
- ICICI Bank Education Loan
- Allahabad Bank Education Loan
- HDFC Bank Education Loan
These loans are offered at varied interest rates. There are also organisations like Propelld offering 100% digitised private student loans.