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How Do I Become a Clinical Pharmacologist?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden

Clinical pharmacology is a subfield of pharmacology, the study of drugs and medicine, which is specifically targeted at how drugs are used in a clinical setting. In general, to become a clinical pharmacologist, an individual must have an advanced graduate degree, usually a doctorate, in pharmacology or in a related field such as biology. It is important to note that pharmacologists receive drastically different training than pharmacists do, as pharmacists are trained to work in pharmacies while clinical pharmacologists are trained to work in laboratories. In order to become a clinical pharmacologist, one must study life sciences in college and in graduate school and should try to gain some work experience through internships or laboratory assistant work.

The path that one takes to become a clinical pharmacologist could begin as early as high school. One who knows he wants to go into science or medicine should make a point of doing well in science courses in high school. Doing well early in one's education can result in opportunities for better education and work later on.


In college, an individual who wants to become a clinical pharmacologist should study something related to the life sciences. Some schools actually offer a pharmacology major. In most cases, however, a student who wants to become a clinical pharmacologist should probably study biology with an emphasis on research. Taking and doing well in a wide array of biology classes is essential for getting into a good graduate program for clinical pharmacology. Taking accelerated or intensive courses, if one's school offers them, is often a good way to distinguish oneself during undergraduate education.

Trying to get an internship or laboratory assistant job while studying as an undergraduate is also important for someone who wants to become a clinical pharmacologist. Such work can help a student decide with greater certainty if he wants to pursue such a career path. Furthermore, having that experience can be helpful for getting into good graduate schools and for getting future work. Some students are even able to get their names on published research papers during their time as undergraduates.

Graduate school is the next step for one who wants to become a clinical pharmacologist. During this time, one chooses a particular research focus that he finds to be interesting and conducts research while taking advanced classes. Upon completion of graduate school, which usually involves writing a dissertation, the new graduate may begin professional work as a clinical pharmacologist.

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