How to Get an Online PharmD Degree in Alaska
The importance of pharmacists in the healthcare sector cannot be overemphasized. They are healthcare practitioners specializing in finding the right way to store, preserve, and provide medicine to treat ailments. Some of the roles that pharmacists take on include:
- Supervising the medicine supply chain
- Informing other healthcare professionals about correct medicine usage
- Advising patients on medicine usage based on their symptoms
To become a full-fledged, practicing pharmacist, you need to get a PharmD degree. Alaska offers as good a program for getting a PharmD degree as any state in the United States. With a PharmD degree, you can work as a lecturer, a research associate in a Biotechnology company, a pharmaceutical company, and many other areas.
The PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) is different from a Ph.D. in pharmacology. Both are doctoral degrees. However, while a PharmD degree mainly focuses on clinical practice and industry, a Ph.D. prepares you for academia and research. Still, this is not to say that you cannot delve into research as a PharmD holder.
The pharmaceutical field constantly expands to accommodate new specialties as medical technology advances in gene therapy. One of these relatively new fields is pharmacogenomics, a research field that explores the gene’s role in an individual’s response to medical treatments. Pharmacogenomics aims to offer more tailored treatments with as few adverse effects as possible. A degree in PharmD is one way to pivot into this exciting field of research and development.
A Ph.D. degree in Pharmacology also requires a final dissertation before you graduate. This is not necessary for a PharmD degree.
Salary Expectations for PharmD Holders in Alaska
According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the mean yearly salary for pharmacists in the United States is $125,690. However, the average salary for pharmacists in Alaska is between $150,800 and $170,473. This puts the annual wage of Alaskan pharmacists above the federal average, and it is also the highest for any U.S. state.
The average cost of living in Alaska is higher than the U.S average. So, this salary is directly in line with the daily expenses you will incur if you live and work in Alaska. The salary outlook is also ideal, with pharmacists in Alaska receiving increases of up to $27,000 after ten years of practice.
The best paying sector for pharmacists is research and outpatient care, with an average salary of $159,490 per annum. However, the sectors with the highest employment rates are general hospitals and healthcare stores.
Requirements for Getting an Online PharmD in Alaska
To get a PharmD degree in Alaska, you will have to graduate from high school with chemistry, mathematics, or biology coursework. Furthermore, you may be required to have a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy or a related field. You must have an official transcript from every institution you attended.
Once you’ve fulfilled these initial requirements, you must take the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test). The PCAT gets you into a pharmacy school where your journey to becoming a licensed pharmacist begins. You must also enroll in an ACPE (Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education) accredited PharmD program.
Getting an online PharmD degree typically takes four years to complete, although, in some schools, it could take up to six years. You can expect to do up to 150 credits to fulfill the requirements for the degree, half of which you can complete in the first two years of your studies.
These first two years are typical online classes in which you’re first introduced to the basics of pharmacy, after which you proceed to do advanced coursework. During this time, you’ll participate in online lectures, do a lot of reading and viewing, and participate in group work and assignments with your colleagues. Courses you can expect to take in these years include Pharmacy calculations, Biosystems, Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology, Epidemiology in Pharmacy, Applied Pathophysiology and Therapeutics, and Healthcare Delivery.
In your third and fourth years, you’ll have more hands-on experience in the pharmaceutical practice. Your third year might be a combination of coursework and practical training. However, your final year will be full of just practical training and experiences in pharmacy. You will get many opportunities at healthcare facilities around you where you can do your clinical practice and gain the necessary practical experience and training. Your program coordinators will also be instrumental in getting you great opportunities at befitting facilities.
Accredited Online PharmD Schools in Alaska
University of Alaska, Anchorage
The PharmD program at the University of Alaska, Anchorage (UAA) public institution is a campus taught degree program offered in collaboration with the Idaho States University (ISU) College of Pharmacy and the UAA College of Health. The program started in 2016, training students on the UAA campus. Although the four-year program is done entirely on the UAA campus, enrolled students will get a certificate from Idaho State University.
Applicants do not need a bachelor’s degree to apply for the course but must have completed a prerequisite 72 college semester hours and CPR certification before matriculation. Since the program is incorporated ISU pharmacy program, which admits only about 90 students across three locations (Pocatello and Meridian, Idaho, and Anchorage, Alaska) annually, it’s a pretty competitive program. Only about 15 students are admitted into UAA annually for a PharmD program, with Alaskan applicants receiving admission preference.
The first-year tuition for the school is $14,605, and admitted students get hands-on experience in their on-campus labs with state-of-the-art technology, participate in community outreach and work directly with pharmacy academic mentors.
St. John Fisher College
ACPE certified and recognized by the New York State Education Department, the Wegman’s School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College offers an online PharmD program that ensures an immersive four-year-long PharmD training.
You don’t need a PCAT to study here, but all other requirements are standard. The program involves 2,000 hours of clinical rotations. During the four years of the degree, you’ll imbibe patient-oriented pharmaceutical sciences skills that prepare you and make you eligible for the licensure (NAPLEX) and jurisprudence (MPJE) exams and a bright future in the field. Clinical rotations will occur at pharmacy locations in their respective communities. St. John Fisher College partners with various health institutions in the U.S. for placement opportunities for their students
Getting your degree is only the first step to becoming certified to get an Alaskan pharmacy license. After you graduate, you will have to write the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) specific to Alaska.
The NAPLEX has 185 questions designed to assess your pharmacy knowledge, such as therapeutic outcomes and giving prescriptions to improve patients’ health. The fee to take this exam is $505.
The Multi-State Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam focuses on students’ knowledge of the federal and state laws that govern the pharmacy practice in their state. For this, you will have to be conversant with all regulations of Alaskan pharmaceutical practice. The cost of this exam is around $250.
When you pass these exams, you will be able to apply and get your license. Then, you can legally practice pharmacy in Alaska.
While you’ll get your PharmD degree after four years, you can decide to do an additional residency program. This step is optional. However, some jobs may require you to do so, especially if you want to specialize. This will be a good option if you are interested in research or a specialty like pharmacoepidemiology or psychopharmacology.
Alaska requires PharmD holders to renew and maintain their licenses every two years. The governing agency in charge of this is the Alaska Board of Pharmacy. Here you need 30 continuing education hours, divided into 29 elective hours and one mandatory hour.
Major Pharmacy Employers in Alaska
Alaska employs approximately 480 pharmacists in the state, with the second-highest hourly mean wage in the U.S. This makes it a prime location to get a good-paying job. The roles of pharmacists are expected to increase by 3 percent in the country. Alaska, in particular, has recorded 25.1 percent annual growth since the turn of the decade. Pharmacy careers you would be able to enter include community practice, clinical practice, compounding pharmacy, drug development, teaching, pharmaceutical business consulting, and quality improvement. You could also own an independent pharmacy with your PharmD degree. Some places you can be employed include the following:
- Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
- the U.S. Army Medical Command, Fort Wainwright
- Bartlett Regional Hospital
- the U.S. Army Medical Command, Fort Richardson
- Fred Mayer
- Foundation Health LLC
- CVS Health
- Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
One of the organizations you can join as a pharmacist in Alaska is the Alaska Pharmacists Association. This association assists Alaskan pharmacists, professionally and personally. The association offers legislative representation, provides access to jobs, and continued pharmacy education. It also provides rotation opportunities and acts as a liaison to the national association. Joining the association is also a great way to connect and network with colleagues in the profession, which allows for potential future partnerships and collaborations.
The Alaska Board of Pharmacy is another professional organization governing pharmacy practice regulations in Alaska. They make the final decisions on disciplinary actions for people who violate the stipulated laws.
Online PharmD Degree Vs. Campus Taught PharmD Degree
The field of pharmacy, much like any other medical field, is quite daunting. It takes a lot of studying, focus, concentration, and, more importantly, much practice. So, a question you might have, is whether an online PharmD degree will prepare you for a career in pharmacy as much as a Campus taught PharmD degree will.
Regardless of the delivery method, both online and campus-taught PharmD degrees prepare you for a solid career in pharmacy. You get equal amounts of coursework, have to complete the same amount of clinical hours, and in the end, you’re a fully licensed pharmacist with numerous career options. More so, online degrees allow for flexibility. You don’t have to relocate to a different place to pursue a career, and you don’t have to leave your current job.