How Do I Start a Career in Medical Pharmacology?

Maggie J. Hall
Maggie J. Hall
Courses in medical microbiology may be required to start a career in medical pharmacology.
Courses in medical microbiology may be required to start a career in medical pharmacology.

To prepare for a career in medical pharmacology, students must complete four years of high school and up to eight years in college and graduate school. The field requires completion of many science classes and advanced math. After completing prerequisite courses, students then progress to the actual field of study,admission to which is usually quite competitive. After high school, students generally enter an undergraduate program in preparation for graduate studies.

Starting a career in medical pharmacology may begin in high school by taking algebra, geometry, and trigonometry classes. The field is also heavily science-based, and students can prepare by taking biology, chemistry, and physics classes. Many universities suggest that students strive to maintain high grade point averages and that they take honors classes when possible. Many colleges select candidates based on Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) scores, and doing well on SAT tests opens the door to possible scholarship programs.

Colleges and universities generally have a curriculum for students, but it can vary from school to school. It usually requires students to obtain 120 credit hours for graduation. Acquiring a bachelor's degree in medical pharmacology requires two years of prerequisite classes that include statistics, biology, chemistry, and possibly anatomy and physiology. Students may also be required to take bacteriology, genetics, and molecular biology. Some schools also mandate that students take medical microbiology and advanced microbiology. By the third and fourth years, the curriculum includes pharmaceutical sciences.

After achieving a Bachelor of Science degree, students generally continue schooling for another four years to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacology degree or a pharmacological sciences Ph.D. The Doctor of Pharmacology curriculum requires pharmacological biochemistry and medical chemistry, both consisting of lecture classes with accompanying labs. Graduate students also learn about drug action and delivery and are required to take three to four courses in pharmacology and pharmacotherapy. In the fourth year, students complete 35 hours of clerkships, or internships, which provide medical pharmacology training.

Students interested in obtaining a pharmacological sciences Ph.D delve into three separate pharmaceutical science classes, pharmacokinetics and cellular signal transduction mechanics. Chemistry, organic chemistry and quantum chemistry are also part of the curriculum. Eventually, students choose to enter a specific field of study. These fields include drug action, drug delivery systems, or drug discovery and the classes required for each specialty. The Ph.D program also lasts four years.

Graduate students may pursue a medical pharmacology career in research pharmacology, where scientists create medications and treatments for particular diseases and work in hospitals or government facilities. Graduates may choose to work as clinical pharmacologists in medical facilities or a private business. They might also find medical pharmacology jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, which may lead to managing a biomedical facility. Individuals can also choose teaching careers, travel as consultants, or employment as quality control officers.

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    • Courses in medical microbiology may be required to start a career in medical pharmacology.
      Courses in medical microbiology may be required to start a career in medical pharmacology.