Online Pharmacy School
Interested in Pharmacy?
Pharmacists qualified to dispense medication must have doctorates as mandated by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy over 20 years ago. Consequently, online pharmacy schools as well as traditional higher learning institutions have discontinued programs designed to culminate in bachelor degrees, leaving certifications, associates, masters and doctorate degrees available for those interested in the pharmaceutical field.
Replacing a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceuticals is the Doctor of Pharmacy degree (Pharm.D) which involves enrollment in two years of pre-pharmacy classes (chemistry, math, biology, human physiology) and attendance of a four-year program that must be accredited by the ACPE (Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education). Courses include in-depth exploration of pharmacology, toxicology, medical disorders (circulatory, renal,neurological,cardiac, etc.) and medications correlating to the alleviation of each disorder. All students seeking to obtain a Pharm.D. degree in the U.S. must also take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam given by the NABP (National Association of Boards of Pharmacy). The majority of states also require that students pass the MPJE (Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam). With the exception of California, all states allow transfer of licenses obtained in other states.
In addition to filling prescriptions, pharmacists also perform the following tasks:
- Provide physicians with advice concerning side effects, optimal dosages and interactions of select medications
- Monitor a patient’s response to drug therapy
- Answer patient questions about prescribed medications
- Advise patients regarding home healthcare supplies and over the counter medications
- Assist in filling out third party insurance documents
- Supervise pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants
- Engage in managerial tasks within a pharmacy setting
Pharmacists holding doctorate degrees can also work in laboratories and conduct research for pharmaceutical companies or government agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Testing, developing and experimenting with new drugs are just a few duties performed by a research pharmacist. Additionally, pharmacists can choose to specialize in certain health conditions requiring pharmaceuticals such as geriatric, psychiatric and pediatric pharmacology.
University of Florida’s Working Professional Doctor of Pharmacy Program
One of the few online courses providing an accredited doctorate degree, the Working Professional Doctor of Pharmacy program, is offered by the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy. Delivered online by combining lectures from professional instructors, pharmaceutical textbook readings and assignments and virtual communication software, the WPPD course take about three years to complete and provides graduates with a Pharm.D. degree qualifying them to work as a pharmacist in a variety of related fields, such as pharmainformatics, medicinal chemistry, critical care, research, consultation and compounding medication therapy.
Successful enrollment in UF’s Working Professional Doctor of Pharmacy program requires students to:
- Submit an online admission application and $30 fee
- Submit two, dated and sealed letters of recommendation
- Submit a written statement defining educational ambitions
- Complete a personal profile questionnaire
- Complete an access to patient’s form
- Provide an employer’s support form letter
- Copies of degrees, licenses and transcripts
- Proof of CPR certification for both child and adult
Cost of tuition for this program is an estimated $40,000 to $45,000. Students may qualify for federal financial aid and also apply for the following scholarships offered by these organizations:
- AFPE Undergraduate Research Scholarship Programs
- Health Alliance Scholarships
- American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Awards and Scholarships
- National Community Pharmacists Association Scholarships and Student Loans
- American Pharmacists Association Awards and Scholarships
- American College of Apothecaries Research Education Foundation
- PhRMA Foundation Fellowships and Grants
The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination
NAPLEX is the acronym given to the exam that was created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. The test contains 185 multiple-choice questions designed to assess knowledge, skills and ability of a student to accurately dispense medication and evaluate practical situations involving vital pharmaceutical decisions. Most questions are scenario-based and describe patient profiles that the student must analyze in order to make the correct decision. Other areas investigated involve preparing medications, completing dosage forms, performing calculations used in administering pharmaceuticals and knowledge of various pathological disorders and diseases.
To register for NAPLEX, candidates need to contact their state’s pharmacy board, who will send instructions and paperwork via email or postal mail. Scores are provided to students within five or six days after taking the test. A minimum score of 75 is necessary to pass the test and receive a degree. Candidates need to complete at least 162 out of the 185 questions comprising the NAPLEX in order to receive a score. The cost of taking the exam is $485.
Pharmacy associations designed to enhance awareness of pharmaceutical research, provide resources to promote the professional development of members and create opportunities for members to connect with peers from all over the world include the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP); American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education (AFPE); American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Pharmaceutical Association (NPhA) .
Pharmacy Technician Degrees
Growing in popularity as a profession choice by many people wanting to work in the medical field but disinterested in spending six to eight years as a student, the position of pharmacy technician involves a two year degree program that is 75 percent course work and 25 percent internship. Candidates for a pharmacy technician degree must have completed or high school or earned a GED before enrolling in an online pharmacy school offering pharmacy technician programs. Accredited online schools such as Penn Foster, Stratford Career Institute, Ashworth College, and Allied Schools include this degree among other pharmaceutical certifications like pharmacy aide or pharmacy technology.
Pharmacy technicians may perform the following tasks:
- Dispensing prescribed medications to patients after they are filled by the pharmacist
- Maintain and update patient profiles
- Give advice regarding over the counter medications
- Perform inventory control on medications
- Various administrative duties concerning insurance forms and medication tracking
- Counting, mixing, measuring and labeling of medications under the direction of a pharmacist
A pharmacy technician program will involve courses examining human physiology, medical terminology, pathology, hospital and retail pharmacy practices, laws and ethics, inventory management and pharmacotherapeutics.
Once a student completes a two-year pharmacy technician program, he or she must take an exam given by the Institute of Certification of Pharmacy Technicians or an exam given by the Pharmacy Technicians Certification Board. Both boards are recognized by state pharmacy boards and provide certification to work as a pharmacy technician if students obtain a passing grade. In addition, PTs need to be recertified every two years by completing a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education dealing with subjects such as biology, chemistry or pharmaceutical law.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the majority of pharmacy technicians are employed in drugstores or drugstores operating within large department stores. They may also work for online pharmacies or hospital drug stores. Job opportunities for PTs are expected to rise by as much as 35 percent over the next decade. Currently, a pharmacy technician employed full time can make from $20,000 up to $35,000 annually.