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Pharmacists, who play a key role in helping people get well and stay healthy, are in great demand. Jobs in all sectors of this field are increasing. In a listing of the 100 Best Jobs of 2013, U.S. News & World Report ranks the profession third based on the growth opportunities, pay and job satisfaction it offers.

This is an excellent career choice for a people who excel in science and math, have strong analytical and communications skills, are detail oriented, dem- onstrate clear independent judgment and are motivated to continue learning throughout their lives. At Hood College, students can prepare for entry into a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program by completing required and recommended courses in the sciences and liberal arts. Hood's faculty members and health professions adviser work with students to develop a course of studies that prepares them for success on the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) and in pharmacy school, as well as in selecting and applying to graduate programs.

Academic Options

Pharmacy and other health professions schools prefer students with a broad liberal education; the ability to think, read and write critically; and evidence of strength in the sciences—all of which a Hood education will provide. This academic path also equips students to pursue advanced degrees in other health professions—from medicine to dentistry to clini- cal laboratory science.

Hood's core curriculum gives students in every major an understanding of the humanities, sciences and arts. It also builds skills in critical and ana- lytical thinking, writing and speaking. Core requirements include courses in areas many PharmD programs recommend: social and behavioral sci- ences, sociology, business and economics, statistics, psychology and public speaking.

Students may major in any field, although most Hood students aspiring to careers as pharmacists choose chemistry, biology or biochemistry. These majors offer a broad-based curriculum that includes classroom, laboratory and field experiences, and that emphasizes hands-on learning. All classes and labs are taught by experienced faculty, not graduate assistants, and use the same sophisticated equipment encountered in graduate school and the workplace.

Whichever major students choose, Hood's science departments provide the opportunity to take the courses required for admission to pharmacy graduate programs: calculus, human anatomy and physiology, general physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, general biol- ogy and microbiology.

Hood also offers the following recommended courses: genetics, cellular biology, molecular biology, developmental biology, advanced human anatomy and physiology. In addition, students can take other Hood courses relevant to pharmacy, such as nutrition, virology, immunology, mechanisms of infectious disease and psychopharmacology.

Opportunities for Practical Experience

Internship opportunities in the sciences are plentiful since some of the nation's top research and biotechnology firms and government agencies have laboratories near Hood's campus. Hood students have interned at the National Cancer Institute at Frederick, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Schering- Plough Pharmaceuticals.

Many Hood students aiming to become pharmacists gain practical expe- rience in nearby pharmacies, through internships or part-time employ- ment. Faculty members, the health professions adviser and Hood's career center staff work with students to find opportunities that match their interests and also help them navigate the complicated process of applying to pharmacy schools.

On campus, Hood has honor society chapters in both biology and chemistry. The Free Radicals, the student chapter of the American Chemical Society, offers field trips, presentations and other activities. The Health Professions Advisory Committee also offers programs and panels.

Success of Hood Graduates

Their close interaction with students interested in the health professions enables Hood faculty members to write compelling letters of recommen- dation—an important factor in pharmacy school admission decisions. Recent Hood graduates have enrolled in PharmD programs at such institutions as the University of Maryland, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Shenandoah University. Alumni are retail store phar- macists in Georgia and Maryland; hospital pharmacists in California, Pennsylvania and West Virginia; and specialists in pharmacology/toxicol- ogy at the National Cancer Institute.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that jobs for phar- macists will increase 25 percent by 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. According to the BLS, the median annual pay in 2010 for pharmacists (experienced as well as entry-level) was $111,570. Most are employed in pharmacies or drug stores (43 percent) and in hospitals (23 percent). Others work in nursing homes, managed care organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, academic research and teaching, medical and scientific publishing, trade and professional associations, government agencies and consulting.

Resources for More Information About Careers

The Pharmacy College Application Service (, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, pro- vides information about opportunities in the profession, PharmD degree requirements, and links to accredited schools and colleges of pharmacy in the U.S. provides information about pharmacy and other health professions, including education programs, financial aid resources, specialized learning opportunities and current issues in health care.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 edition ( Pharmacists.htm) provides an overview of jobs in this field and the employment outlook for the com- ing decade.

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