Becoming a Pharmacist in Tennessee – Finding a Doctor of Pharmacy Degree

Becoming a pharmacist in Tennessee take a great deal of hard work and determination. However, the benefits and high quality of life are just a few of the positive tradeoffs for your effort. To become a pharmacist in Tennessee, you must complete your PharmD degree. This degree can be earned in six to eight years, and will prepare you for the rigors and challenges of this detail-oriented and essential healthcare field.

A Doctor of Pharmacy degree opens windows to several career options in the health field, not just working in a pharmacy setting. Other options include research and development, inpatient and outpatient care, biotech and academic work. It is a degree with the utmost stability, options and satisfaction.

Salary of Tennessee Pharmacist

As of 2020, there are approximately 7,620 pharmacists working in the state of Tennessee (TN). Doctors of Pharmacy working in TN draw in an average of $118,880-$129,709 annually. Keep in mind, that this is an average. Comparing this number to the national average of $128,570, what Tennessee has to offer is competitive. Something to also consider is that the state’s cost of living is three percent lower than the national average. Studies show that you can comfortably live in Nashville, TN with about $80,000. Salary is based on several factors such as location, years of experience, education and additional skills. This promises many opportunities to work up the pay scale over the years.

Requirements to Becoming Pharmacist in Tennessee

All Pharmacists must be licensed. To receive a Pharmacist license, you must complete your degree through an accredited pharmacy program. Some Pharmacy Programs only need two years of pre-professional courses completed. Others require a bachelor’s degree to enroll. After enrollment, a Pharmacy Program typically takes four years to complete. However, if you want to get it done sooner, more rigorous programs take only three years. A PharmD program includes courses in chemistry, biology, pharmacology and medical ethics. During the duration of the program, you will attend lectures, do lab work and complete in-clinic rotations.

Once you have graduated from your Pharmacy Program, the state requires you to complete two licensure exams. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) is an exam that will test your pharmacy skills and knowledge. You must receive a 75% or a higher percentage to pass. The second exam is the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), which tests you more in state-specific knowledge. The MPJE also requires you to receive a 75% or higher to pass.

You have completed your PharmD degree and passed your exams. The last step to becoming licensed in the state of Tennessee is to complete a minimum of 1,700 hours of pharmaceutical internship hours. These internship hours are required by the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy.

You have now accomplished everything needed to practice pharmacy work in the state of Tennessee. Pharmacy work can be done in many environments. You can find pharmacies in settings such as big-box stores, drug stores, private clinics, hospitals, mail-order offices, government agencies, institutional settings and other healthcare facilities.

In order to keep up with your pharmaceutical license, you are required by the state to complete continuing education courses throughout your career to stay on top of pharmacological science advances. The requirement for your continuing education courses is a total of 30 hours every two years. These hours must be completed on a staggered monthly basis.

Accredited Online Pharmacy Programs in Tennessee

Online program options continue to grow every year. These options let you complete your coursework at home and often your clinical rotations in your own area (this is not an option for all online programs). Let us take a look at some great online opportunities to complete your pharmacy degree.

St John Fisher College is an institution that offers the same on-campus curriculum to students all over the United States, almost exclusively online. Not only do they provide the same level of education to their online students, but they also allow them to complete all 11 clinical rotations in their own community versus traveling each year. St John Fisher College is a college-based out of New York and is ranked in the top 20% in the United States. The college opened its Wegman School of Pharmacy in 2006 and has years of experience in offering every student a complete and personalized learning experience.

Admission Requirements for St John Fisher College Pharmacy Program:

  • Complete and apply to Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS)
  • Official transcripts from all institutions you have attended
  • Two or more Letters of Recommendation
  • Complete an admissions interview. This can be done in-person or virtually
  • Complete 62 semester hours of prerequisite credits. All science lab-based courses must have all been completed in the past five years
  • Have a 2.75 GPA or higher in both science and cumulative courses. This is the minimum GPA. Most students admitted to the program are accepted with a much higher GPA.
  • Pass a background check

Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) is another great online option for completing your pharmacy program. It is located in the heart of Erie, Pennsylvania, and began the four-year Distant Education pathway leading to a PharmD degree back in 2014. Though things like orientation and laboratory sessions will require you to leave your home, most of your work can be completed online. Like most pharmacy programs, expect to do your share of clinical hours at pharmacies, hospitals and wellness centers. Six rotations in 6 week periods in community and clinical settings are all that is needed.

Admissions Requirements for LECOM’s PharmD Program:

  • Show proof of US Citizenship, Permanent USA residency, or an F-1 Visa.
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Complete 54 hours of pre-professional courses with an accredited college.
  • Though LECOM does not require a specific GPA, a 2.7 or higher is preferred.
  • A short writing assessment will be required at the time of your interview.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation. One of those letters must be from a Science Professor.
  • Fill out and send in your application by the appropriate date

Accredited Campus Pharmacy Programs

Tennessee has several on-campus pharmacy programs scattered throughout the state to choose from. Take into consideration each of their locations and program requirements. Here are a couple of programs to consider:

University of Tennessee (UTSC) is located in Memphis and is ranked in the top 20% of pharmacy programs in the nation. The university prides itself on its innovative and experiential learning focus. The University of Tennessee also happens to offer the lowest cost of attendance for in-state and out-of-state students. UTSC boasts its $36.7 million multidisciplinary simulation center, which is at the disposal of all its students. With many resources and experience at their fingertips, they guarantee their students a specialized and top-of-the-line education.

Admissions requirements to consider at UTSC:

  • Submit an application through Pharmacy College Application Service (Pharm CAS) by the appropriate date
  • Complete 62 hours of prerequisite courses
  • GPA: achieve a grade of C- or better in all prerequisite courses
  • Submit three Letters of Recommendation

South College School of Pharmacy is located in Knoxville, TN and provides its students with state-of-the-art research laboratories. South College is one of the few that offers a fast-track 3-year program to their students, allowing them to graduate a year earlier than most Pharmacy Programs. The program is designed to optimize your time in both the classroom and lab. This class design also promotes personalized attention and close collaboration with fellow students, providing you with an intensive and unique learning experience.

Admission requirements for South University:

  • GPA must be 2.5 or higher
  • Complete 62 hours of prerequisite courses
  • Two Letters of Recommendation are required, although three are suggested. One of the letters must be from a professor.
  • Apply to the Pharmacy College Application Service (Pharm CAS)
  • Complete an admissions interview

Job Prospects for a Pharmacist in Tennessee

Job opportunities are endless for someone with a PharmD degree. After you decide what work you specifically want to do with your degree, you can hone in on a company that works for your lifestyle. Something else to consider is opening your own pharmaceutical practice.

For those that choose to work for an established business, consider some of these higher-paying companies.

  • Stanford Health Care ($85.43 roughly per hour)
  • White Glove Placement, Inc ($76.30 roughly per hour)
  • Dignity Health ($75.92 roughly per hour)
  • Meijer ($73.92 roughly per hour)
  • CVS Health ($66.78 roughly per hour)
  • Walgreens ($64.43 roughly per hour)

Starting your Career as a Pharmacist in Tennessee

After you have done your research, completed your institutional education, passed the exams and completed your internship hours, you’ll have many options to start your pharmacist career. Although it takes time to train, which is daunting for some, it is well worth the effort. With a PharmD degree and the proper license in Texas, you’ll have the tools you need to embark on a lucrative and exciting new career.