Types of Degrees
Most of the online degrees to earn a doctorate of pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.) are limited to practicing pharmacists. A few online colleges have pharmacy programs that are open to students wanting to enter pharmacy.
Masters degrees in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences are offered online. Usually one focuses on a subspecialty of pharmacy, such as forensics or pharmoeconomics. A person with a masters degree in pharmaceutical science cannot dispense medication.
Beginning in 1990, pharmacists who fill medications are required to hold doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.). To enter a doctoral program in pharmacy, students are required by most programs to have at least two years of coursework completed at an accredited college or university. Many online doctoral programs are designed for working professionals.
Pharmacy specialities vary widely and include psychiatric pharmacy, pediatric pharmacy, geriatric pharmacy, nuclear pharmacy and nutrition support pharmacy.
A psychiatric pharmacists specializes in providing medication for people who have been diagnosed with mental illness. The pharmacist works with the treating physician and the patient to make sure there are no negative drug interactions with the drugs prescribed.
A pediatric pharmacist has specialized training in filling the prescriptions of children. Children do not always respond to a medication the same way as an adult does; pediatric pharmacists need to be aware of these differences. Pediatric pharmacists also counsel parents on the use of medication for their children.
The geriatric pharmacists works with the elderly. As the elderly tend to take more medications than young people, it is extremely important that the geriatric pharmacist know how these drugs interact. It is the pharmacists responsibility to make sure that there are no adverse reactions when combining medications prescribed by a doctor.
A nuclear pharmacist works with radioactive medications when they are prescribed for a patient undergoing radiation therapy.
Nutrition Support Pharmacy
A pharmacists with a specialty in nutrition support works with patients who have been prescribed specific nutritional support. The nutrition support pharmacist works with a team of support personnel, including dieticians, to make sure the patient receives optimal nutrition.
Pursuing an online degree is an excellent way to mesh personal responsibilities with educational goals. Some programs are offered completely online. Other programs combine online classes with on-campus classes.
Flexibility is the primary positive reason to earn a pharmacy degree online. Some programs are designed around the cohort model. In the cohort model, students travel through the program together. Other programs offer online programs that are completed at an individual pace.
Failing to complete the degree due to lack of motivation and self-discipline is the biggest drawback from going to college online. Students must be disciplined and self-motivated in order to succeed in online courses. Some students feel that the lack of face-to-face contact with other students and with their professors is also a drawback.
6 Regional Accreditation Agencies
The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognize six accrediting agencies in the United States. In addition, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) accredit and oversee schools of pharmacy. These associations ensure that educational standards are being met.
In order to work as a pharmacist in the United States, one must graduate from an accredited school of pharmacy. Employers know that a graduate has had coursework and clinical experiences that meet specific criteria when one graduates from an accredited college or university.
The six accreditation agencies include the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), the Northwestern Association of Schools and Colleges (NWSCU), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SASC), the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSASC) and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA). Each state and country is assigned to one of these six agencies.
Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Not all online schools apply for accreditation from the DETC.
Students considering enrolling in an online pharmacy degree program need to make sure that the college they select is accredited. Diploma mills are all over the Internet. They may look authentic and may even have “accreditation.” On closer examination, the accreditation is probably not from a recognized agency. Some diploma mills go so far as to create their own accrediting agency and then, through that agency, give themselves a fake accreditation.
Courses of Study
While in high school, it is important that students considering a career in pharmacy take as many math and science classes are possible. In addition, classes in English, history and others are necessary to make sure the student is well-rounded upon graduation.
In college, a pre-pharmacy student takes general education classes as specified by the particular college. Pre-pharmacy also requires many math and science classes. An individual with an aptitude for math and science would be a good candidate for a career in pharmacy.
After two years in a pre-pharmacy program, the student may opt to enroll in a school of pharmacy. Courses of study in a pharmacy program include microbiology, general chemistry, physics, biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, anatomy and physiology and calculus. Upon completion, the student will be awarded the doctorate of pharmacy degree (Pharm.D.).
Following graduation from an accredited school of pharmacy, each pharmacist must take the North American Pharmacists Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) in order to practice in most states.
Schools & Contact Information
Address: 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, Nebraska 68178
Degrees Offered: Master of Science (MS) Pharmaceutical Science. Doctorate in Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
University of Florida
Address: College of Pharmacy, WPPD Program, 101 Newell Road, PO Box 100483, Bldg 212, Room 2337, Gainesville, Florida, 32610-0483
Degrees Offered: Doctorate of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), a 3 year program.
Address: Distance Education Coordinator, Division of Technology in Education, 1460 University Drive, Winchester, VA 22601
Degrees Offered: Doctorate of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) for working professionals
University of Colorado
Address: School of Pharmacy, C238-L15, Academic Office 1, 12631 East 17th Avenue, Aurora, Colorado 80045
Degrees Offered: Part-time doctorate of pharmacy (Pharm.D.) for working professionals.
Employment Outlook, Working Conditions, Salary
The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) reports that the need for pharmacists will continue to grow faster than average. Between 2008 and 2018, the Department of Labor expects the need for pharmacists to increase 17%. Many areas in the United States do not have enough pharmacists to meet their needs. Trained pharmacists have excellent job prospects throughout the U.S.
An increase in the number of elderly people is a driving force behind the need for more pharmacists. On the whole, elderly people take more medications than do younger people. In addition, the number of colleges and universities offering pharmacy programs is limited. They simply cannot train pharmacists fast enough.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages brief, in 2008, the average yearly wage of a pharmacist was $104,260. Across the five main industries employing pharmacists, yearly salaries ranged from a low of $96,490 to a high of $111,000.
Pharmacists generally work in clean, air conditioned environments that are orderly and equipped with computers. Most work 40 hours per week; however, some pharmacists may do shift work at hospitals, work holidays and weekends, or work later at night.
Top Areas Employing Psychologists
In 2008, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the five top paying industries employing pharmacists were individual and family services with a salary of $127,400, ambulatory care services with a salary of $112,990, general merchandise stores with a salary of $111,000 and in doctor’s offices with a salary of $107.220 per year. Most pharmacists work in hospitals and earn $103,480 per year.
Earning a pharmacy degree from the comfort of your own home is the perfect way to increase the skill set of a working pharmacists. With higher learning comes higher pay. Online learning opens the door of opportunity for individuals wanting to pursue higher education, but who cannot attend an on-campus program.