When the average person thinks about what a pharmacist does, they think of the dispensation of drugs. While this is correct, the scope of pharmacy is more than just that; it involves supervising the medicine supply chain, understanding drug delivery systems, responding to patient symptoms with the correct medicine and dosage, and managing the production of drugs. In addition, the work research pharmacists do on the effect of drugs on biological systems has saved countless lives.
In recent years, pharmacy has become even more advanced; specialties like pharmacogenomics focus on how to create tailor-made drugs for people based on their genetic makeup. To start a career as a practicing pharmacist in the US, you have to get a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree.
A PharmD degree prepares you for the world of pharmacy worth $1.2 trillion globally with intensive theoretical and clinical training. With a PharmD degree, you can have employment in several industry niches, from the health industry to academia, research and development, and the beauty industry.
Maryland has three ACPE (Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education) certified schools, all offering a four-year PharmD program. You can also get an online PharmD program from the comfort of your home.
Salary Expectation for PharmD Holders in Maryland
As a pharmacist, the mean salary in Maryland is $130 667 per year, while the median is higher than the average at $147,207. The median salary is a better indicator of salary expectation as it doesn’t consider outliers.
The salary expectation is even more impressive for the cities in the state, Annapolis has a median annual salary of $151,287, and Baltimore is even higher at $164,483.
The cost of living in Maryland is 11.3% higher than the federal average, but the higher salary compensates well.
Requirements for Getting an Online PharmD in Maryland
To get started on your PharmD journey in Maryland, you must get your high school diploma or GED. If you participated in extracurriculars like Debate Team, Science Olympiad, Future Health Professionals, or volunteering in a nursing home, your chances of getting into a good pharmacy school increase.
The next thing to do is to apply to a college for a pre-pharmacy course where you will take prerequisites. Pre-pharmacy typically lasts for two years and introduces you to the fundamentals of science and pharmacy. The coursework is generally in chemistry, statistics, psychology, biology, and related science courses. However, if you already have a bachelor’s degree, you may not be required to do a pre-pharmacy program. You can apply for pharmacy school directly. But note that these pre-pharmacy courses must be done in some form, whether you did the pre-pharmacy program or have a bachelor’s degree.
Applying for pharmacy school is done through the Pharmacy College Application Service. Again, to stand out, you can intern or volunteer in a small pharmacy or healthcare facility, do community work in a primary health center or have work experience. These experiences look good in your application and give you an edge over other applicants.
The next is the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admissions Test). This test is taken before you can enter a pharmacy school. Most schools require the PCAT, but some schools, such as St. John Fisher College, do not. To choose the most suitable pharmacy school to apply to, consider their acceptance rate, tuition cost, NAPLEX and MPJE pass rate, and specific requirements. To browse through the different school and their requirements, click here.
Some schools may need you to submit letters of recommendation. Schools generally require that the letters come from people you know and have had an academic relationship with for at least two years. The letter should vouch for your academic integrity as well as behavior.
Getting Your PharmD Degree
While in school for your PharmD degree, you are expected to already have basic science knowledge in chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology. Typical PharmD first-year courses may include Medicinal Chemistry and Biochemistry, Pharmacokinetics, Pharmaceutical formulation, and Pharmacotherapeutics. You will take courses about drug delivery, how to dispense medication, legal issues, and the managerial aspect of pharmacy.
Practical experience is also important in pharmacy school. You will take courses such as Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences] (APPE). The IPPE will be in your first three years of Pharmacy School, while APPE will be in your final year. APPE courses will have you in different clinical settings such as hospitals, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical businesses to gain experience with registered pharmacists. After you have completed all these, you will be awarded your degree.
St. John Fisher College is accredited by the ACPE and recognized by the New York State Education Department. They offer an online school pharmacy program that lasts for four years. To enter the school, you will apply through the PharmCAS, submit two letters of recommendation, and have at least 62 credit hours of pre-pharmacy schoolwork with no need for the PCAT.
The tuition is $1,130 for one credit hour. You need 151 credit hours throughout your stay, so you will need to budget north of $170,630. This amount excludes payment for books and clinical postings. St. John Fisher College connects you with your local community’s pharmaceutical and health institutions, where you can get hands-on pharmaceutical experience and complete the required clinical hours. You will also have access to world-class intellectuals to guide you throughout your degree.
This pharmacy school at the University of Maryland is one of the oldest in the country. It is situated in Baltimore. The school has several advanced laboratories and is a leading authority in research. It has partnered with more than 200 community pharmacies that give real-life experiences to its students.
This ACPE-certified school offers a four-year PharmD program that prepares students for the pharmacy practice over eight semesters. However, there is a dual degree option. The University of Maryland has an average of 87% pass rate in NAPLEX. When you graduate, you can apply for their residency program. The PharmD program tuition costs $13,765.95 and $1,061.00 per credit for residents of Maryland and for non-residents $22,578.50 and $1,319.00 per credit. However, you can apply for financial aid.
Located in Princess Anne, Maryland, this pharmacy school is ACPE accredited and offers an accelerated three-year program. The first two years are focused on classroom and laboratory experience, and the final year is on clinical experience.
The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is one of the oldest HBCUs in the country. The tuition is $8,724.00 for residents, $19,343.00 for non-residents and $11,271.00 for residents in the eastern shore of Virginia.
Notre Dame of Maryland University is another ACPE accredited university in Maryland that offers a four-year PharmD program.
Getting Your Pharmacy License in Maryland
To legally practice in Maryland, you have to take two licensing exams – the NAPLEX (North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam) and MPJE (Multi-state Jurisprudence Exam).
The NAPLEX exam attempts to evaluate your competency to be a pharmacist by assessing your knowledge of general principles of pharmacy. In comparison, the MPJE is simply a test of your understanding of pharmacy law at federal and state (Maryland) levels.
Other requirements to get your license include 1000 internship hours, your medical record, a passport photograph, a copy of your birth certificate, an English competency exam, no criminal record, and payment of $150.
Stating Your Pharmacy Career in Maryland
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2021, there are 5220 employed pharmacists in Maryland. This number will continue to increase to serve the pharmaceutical industry. Places where you can get a job as a pharmacist in Maryland are:
- Medstar Health
- Correct Rx Pharmacy Services
- Children National Hospital
- University of Maryland Medical Center
- LifeBridge Health
- Partners Pharmacy
- Meritus Medical Center
After graduation, you can take up residency training to get more focused, hands-on experience and improve your experience and specialty as a pharmacist. Your residency is usually divided into PGY1 (Post Graduate Year 1) and PGY2 (Post Graduate Year 2). The first year is meant for building on the clinical abilities and skills acquired in your undergraduate years. The PGY2 is intended for you to delve into the specific field of pharmacy you want to do.
The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy offers a residency program with specializations in cardiology, health system administration, infectious disease, and cardiology rotations.
You have to renew your license after a stipulated time to be able to practice pharmacy in Maryland. You will have to complete 30 hours of Continued Education every two years, including at least an hour of a medication errors course. You can check NetCe and Biologix Solutions for ACPE accredited courses.
As a pharmacist in Maryland, you should connect and network with other professionals in your surround. This helps you stay up to date with the latest practices, and the community can contribute greatly to your career in the state.
The Maryland Pharmacists Association (MPhA) is an organization that was created in 1882 and represents all pharmacists in Maryland. They do annual conventions and give their members the chance to present their research works and network.
The Maryland Board of Pharmacy is the regulatory board for all pharmacy professionals in the state. They oversee awarding licenses and renewals. They are also involved in enforcing the laws guiding pharmacies in the state.