Marla Ahlgrimm spent the better part of four decades in the world of medicine. The retired pharmacist says she wouldn’t trade a moment of her long career. Here, Ahlgrimm shares information for young women interested in a career behind the pharmacy counter.
Q: What does a pharmacist do?
Marla Ahlgrimm: A pharmacist is an expert in drug dosage, chemical reactions, and regulation. He or she fills prescriptions given to patients by their primary or special healthcare provider. A pharmacist will consult with individual patients to determine any potential reactions between current medications and their new prescription and may work with their doctor to change their prescriptions based on what they find.
Q: What type of education is required to become a pharmacist?
Marla Ahlgrimm: In order to become a pharmacist, you must have a graduate degree. There are two different paths you can take to fulfill your educational requirements. The first is to complete a separate undergraduate and graduate program. Alternatively, you can complete a combined six or seven year program, which will award you a bachelors and a doctorate of pharmacy.
Q: Is licensure required?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Absolutely. Once you graduate from an accredited pharmacy program, you will be required to complete three separate licensing examinations. These are extensive and require dedication and exhaustive study.
Q: Are there opportunities for pharmacist in medical research?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Yes. Pharmacists are an important part of the medical community and often work solely on medical research, helping other researchers create medicines to treat everything from cancer to seizures and everything in between. When you go into a specialized field, such as research, you may be required to complete a two-year residency program. Regardless, you will also be required to complete continuing education of approximately 15 to 30 hours every two years, or as required by your state of residence.