How to Become a Pharmacist in India

If you’re someone who loves the combination of science, healthcare, technology, research, and computer technology, then you might find the field of pharmacy exciting. Pharmacy as a discipline is versatile and dynamic in nature. Generally, people believe that pharmacists can only work in chemist shops, dispensaries, and medical stores. However, this is not true.

In this piece, I will attempt to throw some light on Pharmacy as a career, the academic path to pursue it, and its scope in India.

Pharmacy as a Career

Pharmacy, to define precisely, is the science and technique of preparing, researching, and distributing medicinal drugs. Pharmacy as a career instructs one about how to prepare medicines, and recommend dosages that patients should receive so that they can recover from their illness, or remain healthy. Pharmacy is a recession-proof career which offers excellent salary potential, great benefits, flexibility, and opportunity for growth. The scope of pharmacy today includes global healthcare which has given rise to clinical research, medicinal manufacturing, and marketing, for improvement or maintenance of a patient’s quality of life and provides them with drug information.

Who is a Pharmacist?

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals responsible for ensuring that people derive maximum therapeutic benefit from their medicinal treatment. A pharmacist’s role is not restricted to merely buying and selling of medicines. They are involved in clinical and drug research, and in many cultures & countries also diagnose injuries & illnesses. A pharmacist should have scientific aptitude, be a continuous learner and keep attention to details.

How to Become a Pharmacist in India

Pharmaceutical education includes a blend of theory, practical classes and examinations, and compulsory industrial/ hospital/ community training of varying periods depending upon the course selected. To make a career in pharmacy, one needs to stay updated with the information regarding medicines.

Well, if Pharmacy is the career which you’re looking forward to, then here is a quick guide to pursuing a career in this field.

Step 1- Take the Science Stream in your 10+2

You can take any combination of subjects – Physics Chemistry Biology (PCB), Physics Chemistry Mathematics (PCM) or Physics Chemistry Biology Mathematics (PCBM).

Step 2- Pursue Undergraduate Education in Pharmacy

You can pursue any of the courses listed below after 10+2 from science stream. These courses differ in terms of their course duration, curriculum, opportunities, and degree.

1. Diploma in Pharmacy

If you wish to open up your own drug store and practice pharmacy in India, you should at least have a diploma in pharmacy which is a two-year duration course with a minimum requirement of 10+2 with science stream. Also, students pursuing diploma can get lateral entry to 2nd year in Bachelor’s of Pharmacy on the basis of merit.

Some of the top colleges for the diploma in pharmacy are:

  • Jamia Hamdard University (Delhi)
  • Bundelkhand University (Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh)
  • MET Institute of Pharmacy (Mumbai)
  • Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Research (Delhi)

Admission to these universities happens through Interview/ Entrance Test conducted by the respective universities.

2. Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy (B.Pharm)

A Bachelor’s education in pharmacy is must if you wish to work in the pharmaceutical industries such as Sun Pharmaceutical, Lupin Ltd, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories etc. The course structure of bachelors’ degree includes academic and practical training in the pharmaceutical industry environment.

Some of the top institutes are:

  • Jamia Hamdard University (Delhi)
  • Bundelkhand University (Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh)
  • Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Research (Delhi)
  • Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Rohilkhand University (Uttar Pradesh)
  • MET Institute of Pharmacy (Mumbai)
  • Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Manipal)
  • University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Chandigarh)
  • Bombay College of Pharmacy (Mumbai)

Admissions to these universities happen through entrance exams such as All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT), All India Manipal University Online Entrance Test (MU-OET), Panjab University Common Entrance Test (P.U. CET) etc.

3. Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D)

One can also pursue Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D) which is a six-year course after 10+2 which includes five years of clinical and community-based theoretical study, with ward rounds and a one-year internship in hospitals. Students who are pursuing Bachelors in Pharmacy can take lateral entry direct to the 4th year of Pharm.D on the merit basis.

Some of the top institutes providing Pharm.D are:

  • VELS University (Chennai)
  • Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara University (Mysore, Karnataka)
  • Smt. Sarojini Ramulamma College of Pharmacy (Andhra Pradesh)

Admission to these universities happens through the norms of Pharmacy Council of India (PCI).

Step 3- Pursue Postgraduate Education in Pharmacy

You can pursue any of the course listed below as your post-graduate option. Both of them will help you specialize and gain understanding in one or two subjects. These courses differ in terms of their curriculum, research opportunities, and degree.

1. Master’s Degree in Pharmacy (M.Pharm)

A candidate who has completed his/her Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy is eligible to do Masters in Pharmacy. Someone who has completed their Master’s in Pharmacy has an advantage over pharmacy graduates in Research and Development. A few scholarships and other financial assistance in the field of Pharmacy are also given. Also, one needs to select one out of the ten specializations to pursue their master’s education in.

The specializations are:

  • Pharmaceutics: It is the discipline of pharmacy that deals with the process of turning drugs into medicines.
  • Pharmaceutical Analysis: The branch of practical chemistry that involves a series of processes for identification, determination, and purification of a substance. It separates the components of a mixture and determines the structure of various chemical compounds.
  • Pharmacology: It is the study of medicines and drugs including their action, their use, and their effects on the body.
  • Pharmaceutical Biotechnology: In this field, principles of biotechnology are applied to the development of drugs and medicines.
  • Pharmacy Practice: This includes making and distribute medicines, and it modern services related to healthcare, including clinical services, reviewing medications for safety and providing drug information.
  • Industrial Pharmacy: This involves manufacturing, development, marketing, and distribution of drug/medicinal products including quality assurance of these activities.
  • Pharmacognosy: It is the branch of knowledge concerned with medicinal drugs obtained from various plants or other natural resources.
  • Pharmaceutical Chemistry: This field deals with the composition and preparation of chemical compounds which are used in medical diagnoses and therapies.
  • Regulatory Affairs: This area focuses on safety and efficiency of products in areas like veterinary medicines, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, medical devices, agrochemicals, cosmetics, and complementary medicines.
  • Quality Assurance: The focus is to maintain the desired level of quality in the products and the process of delivery.

Some of the top institutes for a Master’s in Pharmacy are:

  • Jamia Hamdard University (Delhi)
  • Bundelkhand University (Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh)
  • Delhi Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences & Research (Delhi)
  • Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Rohilkhand University (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Birla Institute of Technology (Mesra, Ranchi)
  • Jadavpur University (Kolkata)

Admissions to these universities happen through the Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT)

2. Doctor of Pharmacy (Post-Baccalaureate)

This program functions as a bridge between traditional B.Pharm and regular Pharm.D by advancing professional skills and career options in clinical practice and research. The duration of the program is 2 years plus 1 year of internship. The minimum eligibility to pursue Doctor of Pharmacy (Post-Baccalaureate) is Bachelors in Pharmacy from an approved institution.

Some of the top colleges are:

  • Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Manipal)
  • The Oxford College of Pharmacy (Bangalore)
  • PSG College of Pharmacy (Coimbatore)

Admission to these universities happens through Interview/ Entrance Test conducted by respective colleges.

Step 4- Pursue Ph.D. in Pharmacy

While this is an optional step, it is highly beneficial for people looking to build a career in research.

Students who wish to pursue a Doctorate in Pharmacy (Ph.D.) should have a strong inclination towards research. The minimum eligibility for Ph.D. is Masters in Pharmacy. The duration of the program is minimum 3 years.

Ph.D. programs follow an integrated approach to learning. In addition to coursework and thesis research, students are made to join journal clubs, seminars, publish research articles and participate in student-student and student-faculty interactions.

Some of the top institutes for carrying out a Ph.D. in Pharmacy are:

  • Jamia Hamdard University (Delhi)
  • University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Chandigarh)
  • Jagadguru Sri Shivarathreeshwara University (Mysore, Karnataka)

Admission to these universities happens through Interview/ Entrance Test conducted by respective colleges.

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