Pharmacists help people get well by dispensing medication; knowing which drugs should be used to treat illnesses, conditions, diseases, etc.; and understanding the potential side effects of these drugs and how to use them safely. Out of all the health care professions, pharmacists are often considered to be the most accessible to patients. They are usually available to the public to answer questions and give general medicinal advice. There's more to being a pharmacist than simply dispensing medicine, however. They may also provide other medical services, such as immunizations, blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol screening, diabetes management, asthma care, and more. Pharmacists hold positions in all sorts of healthcare environments, including hospitals, clinics, commercial pharmacies, nursing homes, and schools. Because of the nature of the position, pharmacists are in close contact with the public, and must enjoy working with people.
Students who have the career goal of becoming a licensed pharmacist must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. As an undergraduate, they can start on a pre-pharmacy track, where they will take courses in chemistry, biology, and anatomy, among others. They can also choose to major in a related field that will lend itself well to the pharmacy professional track, such as biology or chemistry. Professional Pharm.D. programs are usually very competitive and have strict requirements, so students are encouraged to review the requirements of their prospective program to ensure they start off on the right track as an undergraduate.