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13 Pros and Cons of Being a Pharmacist


Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

Do you want to pursue a career in healthcare, but you do not want to be in direct contact with patients? Are you somebody that has a strong interest in science? A career as a pharmacist may be something you may want to consider. As with everything in life, before you embark on this educational adventure, you will want to know what are the pros and cons of being a pharmacist? Well, rest assured, below you will find the top 13 pros and cons of being a pharmacist. These top 13 pros and cons will help you decide if this career is right for you.


What is a Pharmacist?


A Pharmacist is a person who has met the education requirements in order to prepare and dispense medications to patients in multiple settings. As a pharmacist, you will be responsible for ensuring that the drugs being supplied to patients is within the law of the state you work in and that the medicines prescribed to patients are suitable for what is being treated. You will also be advising patients about their medicines, including how to take them, what reactions may occur, and answering any questions patients may have. Pharmacists can be found working in a multitude of environments. Some places that you can work as a pharmacist are within healthcare facilities, supermarkets, and drug stores to name a few. Depending on where you work as a pharmacist, you may have added responsibilities to this list.


TOP CONS OF BEING A PHARMACIST

(The following are the top 13 disadvantages of being a Pharmacist.)

1. You will first need to complete an undergraduate program successfully.

Successfully completing an undergraduate program will be the first step in earning the education you will need to become a pharmacist. You will need to take courses related to the healthcare industry, such as chemistry, physics, and biology, to name a few. So, if science is not really your academic strong point, you should probably consider quitting this endeavor before you spend a large amount of your time and money pursuing becoming a pharmacist. The science classes are a core foundation for this career, and your ability to master them will be crucial to your success.

2. You will have to pass an admissions test to get into pharmacy school.

You didn’t think that you would automatically get accepted into pharmacy school based on your undergraduate coursework, did you? Sorry to burst your bubble. One of the disadvantages of being a pharmacist is that you will have to pass an exam to even enter pharmacy school. The exam you must first pass is the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test). This exam will test your general academic abilities and your knowledge of science. Did I also mention that this test is not free. You will have to pay a fee in order to sit for this exam. The fee to sit for the PCAT is somewhere around $600.00.

3. You will need to have a Doctoral degree to practice.

Yes, you read that correctly. If you want to be a pharmacist, you will need to complete your doctorate degree successfully. After you complete this degree, you will earn the prestigious title of Pharm.D. This degree will take you anywhere from three to four years to complete. You also need to ensure that the program you attend is an accredited one. Earning a Pharm.D degree is not an easy feat. The coursework that you will need to complete will be quite vigorous and will most likely monopolize a great deal of your time. So, once again, you are looking at more time and shelling out more money before you can even start working. Deciding if the career of being a pharmacist in the end is worth your loss of time and money is a crucial factor you will have to consider when assessing the pros and cons of being a pharmacist.

4. You will also be required to complete a residency.

As part of your requirements to advance your career as a pharmacist, you will have to complete a residency or training component as part of your education. Completing this residency will enable you to become a clinical pharmacist. This residency will take one to two years to complete. If you wish to specialize in a field such as geriatrics or pediatrics, additional training may be required.

5. All this education will really run up the bill.

If you choose to embark on this educational journey, you will be looking at spending a lot of money. Yes, I do know that some people will not have to take out loans because they may have other sources of financing their education, but the average person will need financial assistance such as loans in order to pursue higher education. The average cost of completing a pharmacy education will be anywhere from $65,000 to $200,000 in addition to the cost incurred for your undergraduate education. This does not include any of the costs you will incur with your daily cost of living. Let’s also not forget that you will need to pay back any loans you have taken out with interest. All of this money you will be spending in order to get your foot in the door to start this career is one of the top disadvantages of being a pharmacist.

6. Now you have to sit for even more exams.

In order to practice as a pharmacist, you will need to become licensed. This is across the board for all states. The first exam you must pass is the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX). This exam will test your pharmacy skills and knowledge. The second exam that you must pass is the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). This exam is state-based and will assess your knowledge of state pharmacy laws in the state you intend to work in. This exam will basically test your knowledge of the legal aspects of the pharmacy practice with focus on topics such as drug distribution, as well as the legalities of licensure, certification, and registration. Now, if you wish to or are required to administer vaccines, then you would need to pass an additional exam on the administration of vaccines in order to be eligible to perform this skill.

7. You will need to complete continuing education.

Continuing education requirements for pharmacists will vary by state. Most states require that these credits be completed during your license renewal period, which will occur every one to three years, depending on the state you are licensed in. Some states will require that a portion or all of your credits are earned with live instruction.

8. How do you feel about liability?

As a pharmacist, you are charged with the responsibility of ensuring the safe and accurate dispensing of medication to patients. Any errors that occur during this process can leave the pharmacist open to litigation. As a pharmacist, you also have the added responsibility to answer the patients’ questions and counsel them on their medications. If you fail to do so, you can actually be accused of being negligent. As a pharmacist, you take on a lot of responsibility which can land you in hot water if not done correctly. I mean, medications can be dangerous and can alter or take lives if an error occurs. The amount of liability you will take on as a pharmacist is one of the biggest disadvantages of being a pharmacist.

9. You could have a less-than-ideal schedule.

The healthcare environment runs 24/7, which essentially means so does a pharmacist. Depending on what type of environment you work in as a pharmacist, you could be working all hours of the day. You may find yourself working days, nights, weekends, or even holidays. This can really put a damper on your social and family life.

10. There will be no room for errors.

If you choose to be a pharmacist, a tiny error could cost a person their life. There is such a small margin of error when it comes to this career. Miscalculating by even a decimal point can have devastating consequences for patients. You need to think about if you really want all that responsibility hanging over your head. The amount of responsibility that you will undertake is definitely one of the disadvantages of being a pharmacist.

11. Little room for career advancement

Once you become a licensed pharmacist, this will be your career. There is no more room for advancement, such as with a bedside nurse advancing their career and becoming a nurse practitioner. You are already at the top of the food chain. So, if you are somebody who wants to keep climbing the career ladder or wants to keep earning a higher salary, then maybe you should consider a different degree. The inability to advance your career is one aspect you will need to consider when weighing the pros and cons of being a pharmacist.

12. You will face a lot of competition in this industry.

So, people may find that when they graduate school and become a pharmacist, that finding a job with the salary you desire may be difficult. The pharmacist jobs with the higher salary will also have the greatest number of applicants making this an extremely competitive job field. Of course, many people want a high-paying job. If you are ok with making lower pay, this may not be awful for you, but if you wish to obtain that high-paying job right out of school, you may be looking for quite some time.

13. I hope you are good at problem-solving

You will find that as a pharmacist, you will have to be good at juggling and finding solutions to all different types of problems. These problems can range from a systems problem to dealing with a patient and health care provider's questions. You will be dealing with some of the world’s friendliest people and some of the world’s most difficult people. You will be called upon to find a solution day in and day out to problems that will run the gamut.


TOP PROS OF BEING A PHARMACIST

(The following are the top 13 advantages of being a Pharmacist.)

1. You will make an excellent salary.

As a pharmacist, you can make an excellent living which is one of the top advantages of being a pharmacist. The lowest-paid pharmacist is making somewhere around $112,000 a year. The median salary for a career as a pharmacist is approximately $128,000 a year. Now, if you were to make around the top salary for a pharmacist, you would be looking at a yearly salary of about $148,600. That is a phenomenal income. Think of everything you could do with a salary like this.

2. You can choose the type of environment you want to work in.

A pharmacist can have choices regarding the type of environment that they want to work in. Of course, hospitals will employ pharmacists, but that is not the only option if you choose to pursue this career. Other places of employment that utilize pharmacist are different types of healthcare facilities such as ambulatory clinics or nursing homes. You could also work in drug stores or supermarkets. It pretty much has to do with what your preference is and if there is a job available.

3. You could work from home.

Telepharmacy is a branch of pharmacy where you may have the option to work from home. Telepharmacy has been gaining strong support since it has enabled those who may live in underserviced areas to access a pharmacist and receive pharmaceutical care from anywhere. Think about the positives for you; you would be able to hold down a quality job while never having to leave your home. This may make it easier for you to balance your work life and your real-life and maybe is one of the top pros of being a pharmacist.

4. You will have a stable career.

Choosing a career in pharmacy is selecting a career where you can always count on a job. There will always be a need for your services because people will always need medications. Medications are not going away; I mean, they are adding new ones every day. So, you can be pretty safe and sound with your job choice.

5. You can run your own business.

As a pharmacist, you will have the capabilities of opening up your own pharmacy. This career will enable you to be a business owner and your own boss, which is definitely one of the advantages of being a pharmacist. You can even have people work for you, which can give you flexibility in your life.

6. You may see the schedule as flexible.

There are a wide variety of schedules you could work as a pharmacist. Some people may welcome this type of schedule, where some may steer clear of it. An alternative schedule and how it may fit into and affect your life is one of the pros and cons of being a pharmacist that you would have to weigh. If you find yourself working, let's say, 12-hour shifts and weekends, it may turn out to be a benefit for you. Let me explain, when you work a schedule like this, you may find you have more flexibility in your life, and you may also find that you can schedule yourself for long stretches off. These long stretches off of work will enable you to plan activities like vacations or staycations.

7. You will work in a pretty clean environment.

Unlike other professions such as a doctor or a nurse, you will not be in contact with potentially contagious patients or body fluids. Working in a pharmacy is a clean and sometimes sterile environment. You will not be coming in contact with pathogens that could potentially make you ill. Not being exposed to these pathogens is one of the biggest advantages of being a pharmacist when comparing it with other healthcare careers. This will essentially reduce the risk to your own health.

8. You will be helping others get well.

As a pharmacist, you will be helping people get better from whatever ails them. You are part of the healthcare team that will enable patients to heal and move on with their lives. You will be considered a vital part of the healthcare team. That feels pretty good.

9. It is a well-respected career.

A pharmacist is someone who is highly regarded for their skills and knowledge base. This is a career choice that is well respected among colleagues and the general population. When you choose a career in pharmacy, you can indeed hold your head up high. The respect that accompanies this career is one of the advantages of being a pharmacist.

10. It is a career you can be proud of

The road to becoming a pharmacist is a long and demanding one. Not everyone can accomplish what you have. You have extremely vigorous coursework that must be successfully completed, and hey, you did it. You excelled in a field that not everyone can do.

11. You will be in demand.

As we continue to have an aging population, we will continue to see an increase in comorbidities. People living longer will increase the demand for qualified pharmacists in order to manage their pharmaceutical care. Another reason why you will be in such demand is because people who would die from disease years ago are now living longer thanks to medical technology such as advancements in pharmaceuticals. A career that will always be in demand and will all be a necessity is definitely one of the pros of being a pharmacist. You will always have a job.

12. You can have job mobility.

Every part of the country utilizes the services of a pharmacist. There will always be patients who are in need of medications. If you choose this career, you can essentially move anywhere in the United States and still be able to find a job. Not every career will have the luxury of being able to work anywhere.

13. You could travel and work at the same time.

Have you ever thought that you could hold down a job as a pharmacist and also travel around the United States? Well, yes, yes you can. You could be a travel pharmacist. There are many jobs out there for this niche. You would be filling the staffing needs that are out there for your line of work. The pay for a travel pharmacist is excellent, and you get to mark off some places to visit on your bucket list. This definitely sounds like one of the greatest pros of being a pharmacist.


The Bottom Line


So, what are the pros and cons of being a pharmacist? Being a pharmacist is a career that can have many benefits and one that can also have disadvantages. Knowing the top 13 pros and cons of being a pharmacist will give you the information you need to figure out what path is best for you. You will have to decide if the benefits of this career are enough to look past the disadvantages or will the cons of this career ultimately outweigh the pros.


Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.