What is a Pharmacist?

Pharmacists dispense medications prescribed by health practitioners and monitor patient health. They advise physicians and other health practitioners on the selection, dosages, interactions, and side effects of medications. Pharmacists must understand the use, clinical effects, and composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties. The goal of pharmacy care is to maximize positive health care outcomes and improve patients' quality of life with minimum risk. Pharmacists may work in healthcare settings (hospital, nursing home, clinic, etc.)  or in retail settings. They may serve as clinical pharmacists or consultant pharmacists.

 Pharmacists typically do the following:

  • Fill prescriptions, verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give to patients.
  • Check whether the prescription will interact negatively with other drugs that a patient is taking or conditions the patient has.
  • Instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine.
  • Advise patients on potential side effects from taking medicine.
  • Advise patients about general health topics, such as diet, exercise, and managing stress, and on other issues, such as what equipment or supplies would be best for a health problem.
  • Complete insurance forms and work with insurance companies to be sure that patients get the medicines they need.
  • Oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in training.
  • Keep records and complete administrative tasks.
  • Teach other healthcare practitioners about proper medication therapies for patients.

Source: ADEA: ExploreHealthCareers. 31 May 2013. American Dental Education Association. 11 June 2013 <>.

Source: United States Department of Labor: Occupational Outlook Handbook.  29 March 2012. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 11 June 2013 <>.

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The requirements for admission into a pharmacy degree program vary. Visit the AACP, PharmCAS, or the school’s website to verify requirements.  

  • Individual Pharmacy programs will have their own, unique, course requirements for competitive applicants. 
    • Students should check with the website and admissions office of schools where they plan to apply before their senior year, to progress smoothly from their undergraduate experience directly to pharmacy school.
  • Please check with the schools you plan to apply to regarding their policy on AP Credits. Some schools may or may not accept AP Credit.  If they do accept credits, an additional upper level course with a lab may be required.
  • Please see a PHMO advisor to create an academic plan that meets your timeline and goals.

Pharmacy programs MAY require the following pre-requisite coursework. This is NOT an exhaustive list, as requirements vary by program. Remember that it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure completion of all pre-requisites. 

  • Biology 141 and 142 with labs 
  • Chemistry 141 and 142 with labs
  • Chemistry 221 and 222 with labs
  • Physics 141 and 142 with labs
  • QTM 100 or Math 107
  • Anatomy with lab
  • Physiology with lab
  • Microbiology
  • 6-8 semester hours of college English/writing (CWR classes in the English language can fulfill this requirement)
  • Some exposure to Psychology, Sociology, and/or Anthropology 

Application Process

Admissions Exam: Pharmacy College Admission Test PCAT

Application Service: PharmCAS

Application timeline/deadline: Review important dates for PharmCAS

Letters of Recommendation: It is recommended that you have letters of recommendation to include with your application. Requirements for letters of recommendation vary from school to school, be sure to check with the schools you are planning on applying to verify. More info about letters of recommendation can be found on the PharmCAS site.

You should verify specific recommendation requirements with each school. Emory’s Career Center offers a Credentials File to collect letters of recommendation that will be sent to the appropriate professional schools (if they accept composite letters). 

Personal Statement: The PHMO offers personal statement workshops on particular dates during the semester. Check the PHMO newsletter for upcoming events. Once you complete a draft of your personal statement, you may submit your draft to the Career Center Document Critique Service for feedback.