Pharmacy is a profession that combines several aspects of health, technology, and business. As a pharmacist, you conflate biological science knowledge, patient contact, healthcare, computer technology, and occasionally, business. There is a wide range of career opportunities available to pharmacists. Apart from job stability, mobility, and respectability that come with the job, pharmacists are an important part of the healthcare system, without which the system can collapse.
One way to become a licensed pharmacist is to get a PharmD. This four-year professional doctorate prepares you for a career in the pharmaceutical industry.
While pursuing a PharmD degree, you will be immersed in a world of cutting-edge medicine and pharmaceuticals. You will have knowledge of drug mechanics that will help you administer drugs to patients correctly. However, your job description is not just limited to administering medications. There are limitless career opportunities, from work in research and development to regulatory pharmacy, bioinformatic, hospital pharmacist, and more.
In the United States, there are about 144 schools of pharmacy authorized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) to give out PharmD degrees as of 22020. In Georgia, there are about four physical institutions that offer PharmD degrees.
According to the US Bureau of Statistics, a person with a PharmD degree in Georgia will earn a mean hourly wage of $57.53 and an annual mean salary of around $119,660. This is lower than the federal average hourly wage of $60.43 and the annual salary of $125,690. However, the standard of living in Georgia is less than that of the federal average by 6.6%. Hence, the lower cost of living will offset the lower salary range. Bear in mind that some cities in Georgia pay more than the state average. For instance, pharmacists in Atlanta earn an average of $132,581 per year, and those in Alpharetta get $127,362 per year.
The first and most basic requirement for a PharmD degree in Georgia is a high school degree. After finishing high school, you apply to a prepharmacy. This two-year course program makes you eligible for a PharmD degree in the US. The common prerequisites for prepharmacy are chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and physics. Volunteer or internship experience in the health-related industry is usually a plus. This will help in your pharmacy school application, and usually, you apply through the Pharmacy College Application Service.
After you have completed your prepharmacy courses, you may be required to write the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test).
The PCAT is a standardized test used to determine individuals qualified for pharmacy school. In this test, prospective pharmacy students take five subtests, including a writing test, biological processes test, chemical processes test, critical reading, and quantitative reasoning test. Some schools, such as St. John Fisher College, may waive the PCAT test, so it’s essential to check whether your prospective school requires the PCAT.
Some pharmacy schools will need to interview you before accepting you if admission is competitive. Also, two letters of recommendation will be required before you can be fully admitted into pharmacy school.
While these are the general requirements for applying to get a PharmD degree in Georgia, some schools have slight differences in their needs. You can evaluate these differences here.
A PharmD degree typically takes a minimum of four years to complete. Some schools may offer a shorter three-year program with intensive training and fewer breaks. The PharmD program is curated in such a way to develop the professional skills, knowledge, and attitude needed to become a competent entry-level pharmacist.
The first two years include more classroom and laboratory-based coursework meant to teach you the core principles of pharmaceutical science. You are also introduced to the correct evidence-based patient care principles in managing ailments.
In your third year, you are introduced to more practical aspects of pharmacy with the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE). Some areas of specialty that you will be exposed to include toxicology and pharmacology, community medicine, pharmacy care sciences, and pharmacognosy. After graduation, you will need to pass two licensing board exams. You may need up to 2000 hours of clinical rotations to graduate.
The licensing exams are the final stages in getting your PharmD degree. There are two licensing exams: NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam) and MPJE (Multi-state Jurisprudence Exam).
The MPJE exam for Georgia is a two-hour exam of 120 multiple choice questions that evaluates your knowledge of the laws, ethics, and policies governing pharmacy at the Georgia and federal level.
The NAPLEX exam helps the Georgia Board of Pharmacy evaluate your competency by assessing your knowledge and skills of practical pharmaceutical principles.
You will only be able to be awarded a license to practice pharmacy in Georgia when you pass both exams.
Some health institutions may require that you complete residency training before you are offered a full-time placement. This is usually to ensure that a pharmacy graduate is thoroughly knowledgeable of all the pharmaceutical practices as it entails real-life, hands-on experiences.
However, you may decide on your own to do a residency and be further grounded in the field. This is especially helpful if you would like to specialize in a particular field.
The University of Georgia offers several residency programs, such as the Augusta Residency Program and the Athens Residence Program. These residencies focus on areas such as critical care pharmacy, oncology pharmacy, pediatrics pharmacy, and ambulatory pharmacy.
Your professional journey does not end once you get your license. You are required by the state of Georgia to renew your license every two years. Continued education helps to maintain and enhance your competency as a licensed pharmacist, and this takes 30 hours for each renewal. The Georgia Board of Pharmacy regulates this entire process.
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.
This school is one of the biggest providers of online PharmD education in the United States. The requirements are standardized. However, St. John Fisher College of Pharmacy is currently waiving the PCAT for incoming applicants. The tuition fee is calculated per term based on the number of credits registered, with one credit hour being $1,130.
The PharmD program here lasts for four years and includes the standard 2000 hours of clinical rotations that will be done in your Georgia community.
The University of Georgia is in Athens, GA, and offers a four-year PharmD program spanning ten semesters. To be admitted into the program, you must take the PCATs and should have at least 69 semester hours of prepharmacy coursework. Students who get accepted into the school take the first two years in Athens, GA, and then complete their program by getting clinical experience in different hospitals, healthcare systems, and ambulatory care clinics in different parts of Georgia.
The University of Georgia boasts of the best NAPLEX pass rate in the state – an average of 95% each time. The tuition fee is $8,318 for Georgia residents and $18,672 for non-residents. There are also provisions for merit-based and need-based scholarships for students who want to enter pharmacy school.
The Philadelphia School of Osteopathic Medicine offers the Doctor of Pharmacy program in Georgia. It has a NAPLEX passing rate of 76.98%. The school has a total estimated cost of around $67,224 per year, but the fourth-year costs around $75,490. There is financial aid that you can apply for. The first three years are classroom and laboratory-based education, while the final year is an intensive clinical program with one clinical rotation every five weeks.
After getting your online PharmD degree and license in Georgia, looking for a job is next. There are approximately 9220 pharmacists employed in Georgia. Here are some of the places you could work in Georgia
- Piedmont Healthcare (Atlanta, GA)
- Kaiser Permanente (Jonesboro, GA)
- Wender & Roberts Pharmacy (Atlanta, GA)
- Northside Hospital (Atlanta, GA)
- Anthem (Atlanta, GA)
- Positive Impact Health Care Center ( Decatur, GA)
- Curant Health (Smyrna, GA)
- Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
Being part of a professional organization as a Georgia pharmacist is essential. It helps keep you in touch with your community and informed of all the best practices.
Georgia Pharmacy Association includes all the practicing pharmacists in the area, as well as student pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. The organization serves as a medium to encourage professional development and integrity of practice. They help advocate for the needs of their members and pharmaceutical professionals in Georgia.
Georgia Board of Pharmacy comprises seven licensed practicing pharmacists and one consumer member, all appointed by the governor of Georgia. They promote and protect the health and safety of Georgia citizens. This board also regulates pharmacies and pharmacists as well as controls licensing procedures.