Becoming a Pharmacist in Idaho With a PharmD Degree

Provided that humankind remains vulnerable to injury and sickness, pharmacists will continue playing a crucial role in health care, just like doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other caregivers. A career in this field can be gratifying for those with a natural predisposition to help people in need. In Idaho, success in this profession has multiple pathways, but completing a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree course at an accredited university boosts your chances significantly.

The sky is the limit for you once you graduate and get your pharmacist license in the state. Not only can you work in hospitals, community pharmacies or local drug stores, but you can also venture into business and start your practice.

What is the Role of a Pharmacist in Healthcare?

Physicians diagnose and prescribe drugs, nurses care for patients and administer medication. Pharmacists complete the picture by dispensing prescriptions to patients. Contrary to a common misconception, pharmacists don’t always work alone, and their role isn’t confined to counting pills. In a traditional healthcare setting like a hospital or clinic, pharmacists are often part of a multidisciplinary team closely collaborating on patient care.

Drugs that we take to get better when we’re sick can sometimes harm us differently. This is where pharmacists come in—to help patients get maximum therapeutic benefits of medicine while minimizing the risk of drug-related side effects. Their job includes various roles, such as:

  • Ensuring patients receive quality and suitable medicines
  • Educating patients on the proper use and effects of medicines
  • Advising other caregivers about the safe and effective administration of drugs 
  • Preparing and mixing (compounding) drugs from base ingredients for patients

How Much Do Pharmacists Earn?

In 2021, U.S. pharmacists earned an annual mean wage of $125,690 and an average hourly wage of $60.43. The mean pay rate for pharmacists in the mountainous state of Idaho isn’t too far below the national average, at $58.85 per hour and $122,420 annually. They’re some of the best-paid professionals across the state and country. However, earnings can vary widely by factors like the industry you’re practicing. Scientific research and outpatient care centers are some fields paying top-dollar salaries to pharmacists.

Pharmacist Jobs in Idaho

Pharmacy is a diverse profession with plenty of lucrative opportunities for those passionate about helping save lives by producing, preparing, or dispensing highly effective and safe medicines. With a PharmD degree and a license to practice, you can have a successful career as a pharmacist in areas such as:

Clinical Research

Working closely with healthcare practitioners and members of the community in clinical research, pharmacists can play a life-saving role by helping push the frontiers of medical innovation. Their quality assurance and risk management skills are some of the qualifications needed in research laboratories and facilities for drug development or clinical trials for new medicines.  

Outpatient Care

Idaho had 1,580 people working as pharmacists in 2021. A significant fraction of them serve diligently in outpatient care centers throughout the state.

Retail Pharmacies

Working in a retail pharmacy lets you interact directly with patients and healthcare professionals. Your roles would include compounding and dispensing drugs and calculating dosages. For these well-paying job opportunities, you can check out local or regional public or private pharmacies, including at universities. The Idaho Board of Pharmacy (IBP) may license you to practice as a pharmacist in the state after you’ve accomplished the following:

  • Completed an accredited pharmacy course (you’ll need a valid certificate of graduation to prove this)
  • Passed the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)
  • Signed up for the Idaho Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)
  • Completed fingerprint-based background screening
  • Completed at least 15 hours of continuing pharmacy education per year to renew your license

Besides meeting these basic requirements to practice as a pharmacist, consider updating your skills to stay relevant in a constantly evolving healthcare setting. It took the COVID-19 pandemic for most practices and patients to recognize the full benefits of remote healthcare services, with telemedicine making a world of difference in many instances. Given the critical role pharmacists play in advising patients about drugs and dosages and assessing treatment outcomes, these medical specialists are increasingly required to use telepharmacy when in-person interactions with patients are risky or impossible. This high level of professional dynamism and versatility can help you stand out in a highly competitive job market.

Where to Get Your PharmD Degree in Idaho

To attain a PharmD degree in Idaho, you should join a program that’s recognized by the U.S. Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). That would be a postgraduate course you take up after graduating with a relevant bachelor’s degree. Where undergraduate coursework isn’t a prerequisite for a PharmD, it often takes a dual-degree program to attain this qualification. Your main options in Idaho include:

Idaho State University

Idaho State University (ISU) is the only institution in the state offering an accredited PharmD degree course. Given that the program only accepts 95 new students annually, competition for admission must be stiff, including among qualified applicants. You can complete the program at the main campus located in Idaho’s southeastern city of Pocatello or the other campus in the “Treasure Valley” city of Meridian, west of Boise.

Admission Requirements

To enroll in the competitive PharmD program at ISU, you should first complete an accredited undergraduate course. This can be a two- or four-year pre-pharmacy program that covers multiple prerequisite topics, including biology, chemistry, and physics.    

Curriculum

The four-year postgraduate program begins with the basics, which include physiology, pharmaceutics, and pharmacology. It culminates in Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE) offered at various sites across Idaho. These APPE rotations provide fourth-year students with practical experiences in different healthcare settings within the realm of pharmacy.

Cost

If you’re an Idaho resident, you’ll pay $9,816 per semester, which includes $5,875 in PharmD fees. Non-residents pay a total of $20,756 per semester to study this course at the university. Nearly 8 percent of these fees will fund your APPE rotations.

The College of Idaho

The College of Idaho Cooperative Program provides an alternative pathway to study PharmD in the state, which is ideal for those looking to join without an undergraduate degree. It’s not a shortcut to studying and later practicing pharmacy because admittance is still contingent on satisfying standard prerequisites. Since the institution isn’t accredited to offer the postgraduate program in pharmacy, it has partnered with the ISU to admit up to two students into the course per year. It will take you seven years to graduate with a PharmD degree if you choose this route—three at the College of Idaho and four at ISU.

Admission Requirements 

The minimum average GPA requirement to join the PharmD dual-degree program is 3.0, but you should probably aim higher to boost your chances. At the College of Idaho, you’ll join a Bachelor of Science program, during which you should attain the pre-pharmacy requirements for the ISU PharmD program. You need at least 93 credits in relevant topics like cell biology and organic chemistry to proceed to the postgraduate phase, 16 of which you must attain at the College of Idaho.

Cost

Tuition fees for undergraduate students living on campus are approximately $33,000 per year. This figure doesn’t include accommodation and meals, which cost about $10,300. In total, you’ll pay roughly $47,505 to study at the institution and an extra $2,400 for your student health plan annually. ISU fees will apply for the four-year PharmD program later on. 

St. John Fisher College (Online Program)

There aren’t too many postgraduate courses in pharmacy that are ACPE-accredited in Idaho, so the online-based PharmD program at St. John Fisher is a much-welcome option for many young aspiring pharmacists in the state. The program, which is available at the institution’s Wegmans School of Pharmacy, recently claimed one of the highest job placement rates for graduates.  

Admission Requirements

Anyone who feels he has what it takes to pursue education and a career in pharmacy, including international students, can apply to the Fisher PharmD online program. The university offers applicants an additional opportunity to make a case for acceptance through an in-person or video interview. Besides an average GPA of at least 2.75, application requirements for the doctorate degree include:

  • Completing 62 semester hours of college or university education in multiple pre-pharmacy courses like economics, chemistry, biology, calculus and physics
  • Two or more letters of recommendation
  • Optional Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)

Curriculum

Throughout your four-year PharmD studies, you’ll cover various courses, including pharmacology, biosystems and pharmaceutics. The patient-oriented coursework includes 151 total credits and 11 clinical rotations to give you practical, real-life experience within different pharmacy settings.

Cost

Transport shouldn’t be a major component of your online PharmD costs since you’ll be covering much of the coursework virtually. You should still budget for those critical on-campus immersions and clinical rotations in your location because they’ll involve travel. As for tuition throughout the four years at St. John Fisher College, you’ll pay about $1,130 for each of the mandatory 151 credit hours (this rate can increase over time).