The different types of pharmacy required courses include math, humanities, and social and general sciences, drugs, communications, business, safety and sanitation and ethics. Internships are standard, as well. Although pharmacists require a lengthier and more in-depth educational path than pharmacy technicians, both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians pursue these kinds of coursework.
To be admitted into a graduate pharmacy program, an individual first takes courses such as biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology and calculus. Aspiring pharmacists also complete study in the humanities and social sciences, which includes classes such as speech, English, and economics. Pharmacists take these types of courses at both the high school and college levels, but because an undergraduate degree is not required for pharmacy technicians, those in pharmacy technician programs might not study these subjects beyond introductory courses.
The main job of pharmacy workers in the traditional retail setting is to distribute necessary medications. Pharmacists in research or clinical settings also might be involved in drug development. Pharmacy required courses thus also include basic pharmacy terminology and the study of the names, uses, actions and interactions of drugs, including those in topical products and herbal remedies. These classes show pharmacy workers what medications are appropriate for given conditions and when the pharmacy workers should administer them. Courses in calculations or biological statistics give pharmacy workers the ability to go through the mathematics necessary to fill prescriptions properly and understand the fine line between effective dosing and overdosing.
Other pharmacy required courses both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians complete include pharmaceutical techniques, safety and sanitation, ethics and law. Techniques courses teach practical skills such as analysis, which are applicable for tasks such as comparing medications and drug processing. Safety and sanitation classes teach workers how to keep the pharmacy clean in compliance with jurisdiction regulations, as well as how to handle drugs and avoid prescription errors. Ethics discusses the moral dilemmas that might arise in pharmacy work, such as how to get medications to those who cannot afford it or whether pharmaceutical companies should be forced to cap pricing. Law courses explain the regulations in place for drugs and pharmacy work.
Pharmacists also may take business classes as part of their pharmacy required courses. These classes help the pharmacists manage the pharmacy, explaining how to perform tasks such as marketing, tracking time cards, ordering stock, keeping records, and securing information and drugs. Pharmacy technicians, who are not in a position of authority within the pharmacy, typically do not have to take these types of classes, but they might find courses such as record-keeping and inventory valuable, as much of the everyday administrative support of the pharmacy falls to the technicians.
Both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians should take classes in communications. Pharmacists find these courses useful because they have to interact with physicians or drug development companies regularly, being clear about what the patient needs or what problems are present. The way pharmacists handle tasks such as marketing and vendor processing also influences the efficiency and revenue of the pharmacy. For those at the technician level, communications are most important for interacting with the customer face-to-face, ringing up medications at the register, answering basic questions and guiding customers to products in other areas of the pharmacy or surrounding store.
Going through one or more internships is standard for a pharmacist. These are advanced-level pharmacy required courses or positions that allow the pharmacist to learn his trade under the guidance of a licensed pharmacist. The pharmacist may intern each summer during pharmacy school, or he might intern for one year at the end of his program, depending on the school. Technicians do not do internships, but they complete on-the-job training of three to 12 months.