A pharmacist (PharmD) is a healthcare professional who is responsible for dispensing medications and providing pharmaceutical care to patients. Pharmacists play a crucial role in the healthcare system by ensuring the safe and effective use of medications and promoting optimal patient outcomes. They work in various settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical industry, research institutions, and regulatory bodies.

Why Pharmacy May be Right for You

Here are some key aspects of the pharmacist profession:

  • Medication dispensing: Pharmacists are trained to accurately and safely dispense prescription medications according to a healthcare professional's prescription. They review the prescription for accuracy, check for potential drug interactions or allergies, and provide appropriate dosage instructions to patients. 

  • Medication management and counseling: Pharmacists play a crucial role in medication management. They collaborate with healthcare providers to ensure appropriate medication selection, dosing, and administration. 

  • Patient care and counseling: Pharmacists work directly with patients to provide medication-related counseling and address their questions or concerns. They assess patients' health conditions, medication histories, and potential drug interactions to optimize therapy outcomes. 

  • Medication safety and quality assurance: Pharmacists play a critical role in ensuring medication safety. They monitor for potential drug interactions, adverse drug reactions, and medication errors. 

  • Collaborative healthcare team member: Pharmacists work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals. They participate in interdisciplinary teams to develop and implement treatment plans, provide medication expertise, and contribute to patient care decisions. 

  • Health promotion and disease prevention: Pharmacists play an active role in promoting health and disease prevention. They provide education and counseling on topics such as immunizations, smoking cessation, healthy lifestyles, and chronic disease management. Pharmacists may conduct health screenings, monitor and manage chronic conditions, and provide guidance on medication adherence to help patients achieve optimal health outcomes.

  • Pharmaceutical research and drug development: Some pharmacists are involved in pharmaceutical research, working in academic institutions or the pharmaceutical industry. They contribute to the development and testing of new medications, evaluate drug efficacy and safety, and participate in clinical trials. 

Academic Preparation

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) provides a comprehensive spreadsheet of all prerequisites required by programs. While it varies by program, here is a general outline of requirements:

General Biology I Lecture/Lab BIOL 105 & 105L 4
General Biology II Lecture/Lab BIOL 106 & 106L 4
General Chemistry I Lecture/Lab CHEM 111/112 3/1
General Chemistry II Lecture/Lab CHEM 113/114 3/1
Organic Chemistry I Lecture/Lab CHEM 230/232 3/1
Organic Chemistry II Lecture/Lab CHEM 231/234 4/1
Intro to Physics I Lecture/Lab PHYS 100/100L 4
Intro to Physics II Lecture/Lab PHYS 101/101L 4
Physiology (Mammalian or Human) BIO 115 4
General Psychology PSYCH 101 4
Statistics Course  Any Department 3-4
Calculus Course MATH 109 4
Other programs may require anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, economics and other courses. It is important to look at the schools you are interested in for their specific requirements. Here are links to requirements for PharmD programs highly desired by USF applicants: 


All pre-pharmacy students should have some experience with a pharmacist, even if it is only shadowing. 

To gain pre-pharmacy experience, you can take the following steps:

  • Volunteer or work in a pharmacy setting: Seek opportunities to volunteer or work in a pharmacy, such as a community pharmacy or hospital pharmacy. Contact local pharmacies and inquire about volunteer positions or pharmacy technician roles. This experience will provide you with firsthand exposure to pharmacy operations, medication dispensing, and patient interactions.

  • Job shadowing: Reach out to pharmacists in your community and request to shadow them. Shadowing allows you to observe pharmacists in their day-to-day activities, understand their responsibilities, and gain insights into the profession. Shadowing experiences can help you make informed decisions about pursuing a career in pharmacy.

  • Pharmacy technician certification: Consider becoming a certified pharmacy technician (CPhT). While certification requirements vary by region, obtaining certification can enhance your chances of securing pharmacy-related employment or volunteer positions. Pharmacy technician roles provide valuable experience in medication dispensing, inventory management, and customer service within a pharmacy setting.

  • Research opportunities: Explore research opportunities in pharmaceutical sciences or related fields. Contact professors at USF or UCSF to inquire about potential research projects or assistant positions. Participating in research can provide insight into the development, testing, and evaluation of medications and contribute to your understanding of the scientific aspects of pharmacy.

  • Health-related volunteer work: Engage in volunteer work related to healthcare or patient care. Consider opportunities in hospitals, clinics, or community health organizations. Although not directly pharmacy-specific, these experiences can provide exposure to healthcare settings, patient interactions, and interdisciplinary teamwork

  • Community involvement: Engage in community service activities to demonstrate you are willing and ready to serve others. 

Application Components