How to Obtain your Pharma D degree in West Virginia

Pharmacists make up an integral aspect of the health care industry in West Virginia. Their extensive knowledge of medication and its management forms a vital link between Doctors and their patients. They can help you avoid mixing potentially problematic drugs, advise you whether certain foods or alcohol will adversely affect you or help you find the best treatment for your child’s upset stomach.

While most people think of pharmacists working solely in local pharmacies and drug stores, there are many career options available to new graduates. As well they have the opportunity to work in varying work environments. For those interested in a more patient-centric environment, you may end up working in long-term care homes, community clinics, hospitals and family medicine clinics. For the more introverted types, you can find employment in government facilities, universities, pharmaceutical companies and even insurance companies.

The journey to becoming a pharmacist is not a short one, and there is a heavy financial commitment. Still, for the right person, there are many exciting opportunities for a long and rewarding career.

What is Required to Obtain your Pharma D Degree

Becoming a Pharmacist takes an average of six to eight years of study to complete. This may seem lengthy, but a pharmacist must master an extensive amount of medical information and, throughout their career, will hold a lot of responsibility within the healthcare industry. On average, a student needs to complete a two-year undergraduate program followed by a four-year graduate program from an accredited pharmacy school. Some students will take more than two years of undergraduate studies in order to prepare for admission.

To start their job as a pharmacist in West Virginia, students must have graduated from an accredited school or college of pharmacy and have completed 1500 hours of internship work. Most likely, this requirement will be met through clinical rotations that are required as part of all Pharma D programs, but it is good to check ahead of time.

Once this has been completed, students must sit and pass both the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). These two components must be completed within a one-year period in order for the student to be eligible for licensure.

In order to maintain their license, Pharmacists in the state must complete 30 continuing education credits every two years. Two of these credits must focus on end-of-life care, and six must be taken in person. For more information and CE resources, visit the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy website.

Pharmacy Schools in West Virginia

With six to eight years of study ahead of you, choosing a program that will give you the best education and help you succeed in gaining employment will be highly beneficial. If you are feeling overwhelmed by this choice, the following breakdown should give you a good idea of some of the excellent programs available in the state and which one would be the best fit for you.

University of Charleston

Located in the city of Charleston, the state’s capital and most populous city, the University’s School of Pharmacy offers students a rigorous technology-driven program with a focus on preparing students to be successful in a rapidly evolving field.

Students spend the first three years of the program building a base of knowledge with experiential learning opportunities sprinkled throughout. In the fourth, students spend nearly all of their time practicing their new skills, returning to the classroom occasionally to participate in special training sessions.

The University offers students the ability to enroll in their Pharmacy Direct program, allowing them to complete undergraduate and graduate studies in one place. Students may take anywhere from two to four years of undergraduate studies if needed to prepare for the graduate program. A seat in the School of Pharmacy is guaranteed as long as the student maintains a GPA of 2.75, passes all pre-requisite courses with at least a c-, submits an application through PharmCAS and passes their interview with the School of Pharmacy faculty.

Students enrolled in the Pharmacy Direct program are eligible for several scholarships and tuition reimbursements as long as they meet the school’s requirements.

Marshall University

Located in the city of Huntington, the seat of Cabell County, the University offers students an interactive learning experience that differs from most other lecture-driven programs. Students learn in small groups, which encourages collaborative learning. No more than 80 students are accepted into the program each year.

State-of-the-art facilities allow students to begin learning real-world skills right from their first year. During their first year, students are certified and gain experience in the field. During their time there, students obtain the following three certifications at no extra cost, Immunization (APhA) certification, Medication Therapy Management (APhA) certification and the Diabetes Management (APhA) certification.

The University does not require students to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in order to gain entry to the Pharmacy program, acceptance is based more on knowledge and understanding of the material. High school students with exceptional grades may be admitted to the Early Assurance Scholars program and either way the University offers a four year planner to assist students with their goal to become a pharmacist.

West Virginia University

Located in the small city of Morgantown in Northern West Virginia, the University has been instructing students in the field of pharmacy for over 100 years. Each year the school admits approximately 70 students into the program.

Newly renovated, the 7,650 square foot state-of-the-art facilities are used to build students’ skills in the areas of dosage forms, pharmacokinetics, chemistry and pharmacology of drugs, pathophysiology, therapeutics and the administrative and behavioral aspects of practice and the healthcare system. Students begin rotations as early as the spring and summer of their first year.

As with the other Universities on this list, WVU offers students a fully inclusive pre-pharmacy program that prepares students to be accepted into the Pharmacy degree program. High-performing students may be admitted to the direct admit pathway if they meet the necessary requirements. Students unable to meet the criteria but still wanting to pursue pharmacy will be admitted under the Healthcare Pathways with Pharmacy Interest major. Students may spend two to four years in undergraduate studies preparing for Pharmacy school.

Online Programs

Studying in person and away from home can be extremely expensive, especially when facing six to eight years of studies. For those who want to work as pharmacists but are unable to attend classes in person, there are now options for students to obtain their Pharma D Degree through the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College.

The college offers students a hybrid learning experience that is grounded in science and strives to turn outpatient focuses professionals who have the opportunity to learn from experts in the field. 70 percent of classwork will be completed through online courses, while at least 30 percent see the students participating in clinical rotations and real-world immersions within their communities. This amount to approximately 2000 hours of hands-on community based experience and the opportunity to work with underserved communities both locally and abroad.

In order to be accepted into the program, students must have completed at least 62 semester hours of undergraduate study, which translates roughly into a two-year pre-pharmacy program as long as it meets the college’s admission requirements that can be found here. The program has only one start date per year in September, and applications must be submitted by June 1st of the same year.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Many occupations in the health care industry are seeing a higher than average level of job growth. The reason why is because of the aging population across the nation and an increase in specialized care being required, with this in mind, pharmacists will find that there is an increasing need for their services in clinics and hospitals.

For students intending to stay and work in the state they will be interested to know that West Virginia lands in the number one spot for having the highest number of employed pharmacists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are approximately 2,220 pharmacists currently employed in the state. Cities in the state with the highest number of jobs are Beckley and Morgantown.

In regards to salary, pharmacists in the state make an average of $127,080 per year, which works out to about $61.10 per hour, which is just shy of the national average. On the lower end of the school, which would be indicative of those just entering the workforce, employees can expect to make an average of $41,720 per year, and at the top end of the scale, 10 percent of pharmacists report earning an average of $160,580 per year.

So while there will be a substantial investment of time and money, students passionate about working in the field of pharmacy in West Virginia face a bright and rewarding career. If you are passionate about this field and have the time and resources to get started, you’ll find that the experience will be both challenging and rewarding, with high earnings. 

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