How to Become a Pharmacist in Illinois
Becoming a pharmacist in Illinois is an exciting and rewarding career choice. Pharmacists play a vital role in the healthcare system by ensuring the safe and effective use of medications. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy in Illinois, this article will guide you through the necessary steps and provide answers to frequently asked questions.
Step 1: Complete Pre-Pharmacy Requirements
Before applying to a pharmacy school, you must complete the pre-pharmacy requirements. These generally include courses in biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, and humanities. It’s important to check with individual pharmacy schools to ensure you meet their specific prerequisites.
Step 2: Obtain a Pharm.D. Degree
To become a licensed pharmacist in Illinois, you must complete a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited pharmacy school. Pharm.D. programs typically take four years to complete and include coursework in pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, pharmacy law, and clinical rotations.
Illinois is home to several accredited pharmacy schools, including the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, Midwestern University College of Pharmacy, and Chicago State University College of Pharmacy. These schools offer comprehensive pharmacy programs and provide students with ample opportunities for hands-on learning.
Step 3: Complete a Pharmacy Internship
After obtaining a Pharm.D. degree, you must complete a pharmacy internship to gain practical experience. In Illinois, aspiring pharmacists must complete 1,500 hours of supervised practice, which can be fulfilled through a combination of internships and clerkships. It’s important to note that at least 500 hours must be completed in a community pharmacy setting.
Step 4: Pass the NAPLEX and MPJE Exams
Once you have completed your internship, you must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE). The NAPLEX assesses your knowledge and skills in pharmacy practice, while the MPJE evaluates your understanding of pharmacy law and regulations specific to Illinois.
Step 5: Apply for Licensure
After successfully passing the NAPLEX and MPJE exams, you can apply for licensure as a pharmacist in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) oversees the licensure process. You will need to submit an application, provide proof of education, pass a criminal background check, and pay the required fees. Once your application is approved, you will receive your pharmacist license.
Q: How long does it take to become a pharmacist in Illinois?
A: It typically takes a minimum of six to eight years to become a licensed pharmacist in Illinois. This includes completing the pre-pharmacy requirements, obtaining a Pharm.D. degree, completing an internship, and passing the necessary exams.
Q: Can I become a pharmacist with a bachelor’s degree?
A: No, a bachelor’s degree is no longer sufficient to become a pharmacist. Aspiring pharmacists must complete a Pharm.D. degree from an accredited pharmacy school.
Q: Are there any specific GPA requirements for pharmacy school?
A: Each pharmacy school has its own GPA requirements. Generally, a competitive GPA is around 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
Q: What skills are important for a pharmacist?
A: Pharmacists need strong communication, problem-solving, and attention to detail skills. They should also have a solid understanding of pharmaceuticals and the ability to work in a team.
Q: How much do pharmacists in Illinois earn?
A: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for pharmacists in Illinois is around $126,000.
Q: Can pharmacists specialize in a specific area?
A: Yes, pharmacists can pursue specialized areas of practice, such as oncology, pediatrics, or geriatrics. These specialized areas often require additional training and certifications.
Becoming a pharmacist in Illinois requires dedication, hard work, and a passion for healthcare. By following the steps outlined in this article and staying informed about the licensure requirements, you can embark on a fulfilling career as a pharmacist in the state of Illinois.