Who are Pharmacists?

Pharmacists are specialists in the science and clinical use of medications.  They must be knowledgeable about the composition of drugs, their chemical and physical properties, and their manufacture and use, as well as how products are tested for purity and strength.  Additionally, pharmacists need to understand the activity of a drug and how it will work within the human body.

What do Pharmacists Do?

The principle goal of pharmaceutical care is to achieve positive outcomes from the use of medication which improves the patients' quality of life.  Pharmacists promote patient-oriented practices that optimize drug therapy outcomes and minimize medication errors.  Pharmacists work in drug stores, hospitals, industry as well as government and academic institutions.

Opportunities for pharmacists have never been better.  A recent Dept. of Health and Human Services report projected a growth of 17% in the number of pharmacists employed by 2018.  This demand is due to increased roles of pharmacists in healthcare and the rise in the age of the population.

First year pharmacists typically earn between $60,000 and $75,000, with the median annual earnings in 2008 of all pharmacists being $106,410.


There are 125 accredited colleges and schools of pharmacy in the US.  The 6 in Florida are: Florida A&M, LECOM, University of Florida, University of South Florida, Nova Southeastern University and Palm Beach Atlantic University.  All pharmacy programs offer the Pharm.D. degree which takes 4 years to complete. The undergraduate prerequisites vary by program but for UF are:

  • English
  • math up to calculus
  • 3 social science courses
  • 3 humanities courses
  • Gen. Chem. (CHEM 141, 142)
  • Org. Chem. (CHEM 201, 202)
  • Intro. Biology (BIOL 141, 142)
  • Physics (PHYS 121,122)
  • Anat & Phys. (IHSC 201, 202)
  • Public speaking (COMM 201)

Most pharmacy schools also require a PCAT score.  The PCAT covers verbal ability, biology, reading comprehension, quantitative ability, chemistry and includes an essay.  UF's program also requires the CLAST test.

The pharmacy school curriculum includes courses in clinical pharmacology, therapeutics and pathopharmacology, drug literature, pharmacy management and law as well as other topics.

Application Trends

After a small decline, recently there has been an increase in the number of applications to pharmacy schools as well as a  growth in enrollment.  There were about 14,000 entering first year pharmacy students in 2009 and, on average, pharmacy schools receive 10 applications for each seat in their class.  Competitive applicants have a GPA of 3.3 and above average PCAT scores.

The applications to most pharmacy schools are filed on-line at

How to find out more?