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The Formula for Becoming a Pharmacist

A look at pharmacy education in the US, and the requirements for foreign-trained pharmacists. Part 33 of our Foreign Student Series. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Two listeners, Youngmin Kim in South Korea and Nestor Gastelo in Peru, would like us to talk about pharmacy education in the United States. This will be the subject today in our Foreign Student Series.

"Pharmacists are health professionals who assist individuals in making the best use of medications." That description comes from the Code of Ethics of the American Pharmacists Association.

The job may include filling doctors' orders and helping people choose medicines that can be sold without a prescription. A pharmacist might also answer questions from patients and work with medical devices and other technologies.

Community pharmacists work in drug stores. Pharmacists are also employed by hospitals and drug companies.

Pharmacists in the United States must meet the professional requirements of the state where they want to work.

Many universities have a college of pharmacy. Since two thousand four, these offer only a doctor of pharmacy degree. The program takes four years.

Students generally enter pharmacy school after two years of general courses. Pharmacy students must be skilled in mathematics and the sciences. They must also take the Pharmacy College Admission Test.

After they earn their degree, they must complete a residency training program in a hospital or other setting. One year is required, but a second year can be added in a specialty area like cancer care or infectious diseases.

After their residency, pharmacists must pass the licensing examination given by their state.

Foreign students who plan to train in the United States and return home should make sure their degree will be recognized there. In the same way, foreign-trained pharmacists who want to work in the United States must be sure that their degree will be recognized here.

Even so, they will have to complete a residency in the United States. For more information, check with the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, at

Foreign-trained pharmacists must also pass a certification process. More information about that is available from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, on the Web at

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. We will have links to these two sites at You can also get the full details from VOA News about the killings Monday at Virginia Tech. I'm Bob Doughty.