In his classic style of writing detailed (almost Wikipedia type articles), Tanmoy now tackles another career option, in the Pharmaceutical industry. In the 2-part series, the first one focusses on the best Pharmacy courses.
Pharmacy is commonly considered as a shop (also known as Medical Store or Chemist) where medicines are being sold or prepared.
In the academic or professional world, Pharmacy is defined as the branch of science that deals with the preparation, doses, dispensing and effects (including safety) of medicines (or medicinal drugs or simply drugs).
In the broad sense, Pharmacy is a marriage between Health Sciences and Chemistry. You could also term it as a Love Triangle that involves Medicine, Biology and Chemistry. Yes, it is as overlapping and inter-related as Bio-Medical Sciences.
A Pharmacist (one who has got sufficient knowledge of Pharmacy or practises Pharmacy) technically should possess more knowledge than a Medical Doctor regarding medicinal drugs – composition (or formulation) of a drug, effects/interaction with the biological system, physical and chemical properties, therapeutic doses, side-effects, interactions with other drugs.
Besides, pharmacists also play an important role in advising and counselling patients, and prescribing medicines. However, pharmacists are not medical doctors – they do not conduct diagnosis and/or surgeries on patients. Globally Pharmacy is considered as noble as the Medical profession, if not more. Read more on What does a Pharmacist do?
It could be a little bit confusing between Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (even I was confused initially). To make things simple – the B.Pharma course is basically a Bachelor program on Pharmaceutical Sciences. You will cover a comprehensive range of major and minor subjects. The major subjects (or modules) are:
Minor subjects or modules will include – Hospital Pharmacy, Clinical Pharmacy, Immunology, Marketing & Business Management, Electronics & Computer Science (or Applications), Engineering Drawing, Engineering Mathematics, Statistics, Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Computational Chemistry – this is not a comprehensive list of minor and elective modules.
Pharmacy – as explained earlier, is a branch of science that deals with preparation and dispensing of medicines. It will be mainly focused towards Clinical and Community Pharmacy. Pharm.D is the preferable course if you wish to get on to this side.
It is a course with duration of 2 years, followed by an internship of 3 months. The eligibility criteria is 10+2 with Physics and Chemistry being mandatory subjects, and any one between Biology and Mathematics.
After successful completion of the Diploma program, one can be employed in a Pharmacy shop. After registering with the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) and/or the State Pharmacy Council, one can also set up his/her own Pharmacy store. The diploma course provides the basic concepts and does not provide any specialization.
Diploma graduates can also get admission into the 2nd year of the Bachelor of Pharmacy program (Lateral Entry). You can have a list of D.Pharm Colleges here.
It is a 4-year undergraduate course with the same entry requirements as D.Pharm. Pharmacy graduates can have several career opportunities in both government and private sectors.
Even if you cannot make it to the top Pharmacy colleges in the country (I am personally not too much in favour of Rankings and Reputation of institutes), please make sure that the college is approved by both PCI and AICTE. For reference of parents and students, here is the list of PCI Approved Degree Colleges.
I did my B.Pharm from Gupta College of Technological Sciences, which might not be the most glamorous or prestigious institute in India. But, it is an institute specialized for Pharmacy education only; and it is approved/recognized by both AICTE and PCI.
Pharm.D is among the latest pharmacy programs, introduced in 2008 by the Indian Government and the PCI. It is a 6-year professional doctoral program in pharmacy, which also includes 1 year of internship or residency.
Entry requirements are similar to D.Pharma and B.Pharma programs. B.Pharma graduates can be admitted in to the 4th year of the Pharm.D program as lateral entry – it will be a 3-year course (Pharm.D Post Baccalaureate), which includes 2 years of studies and 1-year internship or residency. For further details please refer to the Pharm.D FAQs (PCI).
Now students who are in their 10+2 phase might be get confused between B.Pharma and Pharm.D. Pharm.D is strategically designed for those students who want to have a career in hospital, clinical or community pharmacy. The course structure revolves mainly around clinical pharmacy, and is also on par with global standards.
If you wish to pursue a career as a Traditional Pharmacist in India or abroad, then Pharm.D will serve the purpose better. B.Pharma program provides a well-balanced exposure to students who wish to have a career in research, quality control, marketing apart from clinical pharmacy. Here is a nice article on Pharm.D vs B.Pharm.
It is a 2-year Masters program that allows you to specialize in one of the branches of Pharmacy (or rather Pharmaceutical Sciences). Minimum entry requirements will be B.Pharm degree.
I have chosen a few top Pharmacy Colleges based on rankings on various Indian websites, communication with peers and reviewing the course curriculum (as per as my best knowledge). Please be advised that they are not actually in a particular order.
As you can see that the field of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences is very broad. Likewise, the career opportunities after studying Pharmacy is also very wide and open – both in terms of job profiles and job sectors.
The first advantage about studying Pharmacy is that you study variety of subjects. You can have the opportunity to study the fundamental basics of Biology, Chemistry and Physics (to some extent though) besides having a broad overview on applied subjects like Pharmacology, Pharmaceutics, Medicinal Chemistry, Clinical Pharmacy, Biochemistry etc.
The field gives you a good opportunity to understand what interests you. Hence, after graduation you can have multiple career options (jobs and higher studies). During my 10+2 days, I have a knack to pursue a career research work at the interface of biology and chemistry. Hence, I took the decision to study Pharmacy after finishing school.
A majority of B.Pharm (or Pharm.D) students end up in the field of Pharmacy because they could not crack the Medical Entrance Exams or could not get in to one of the top engineering colleges. If you had desire of becoming an Engineer, but you did not end up studying engineering, you can still pursue your underlying passion by having a career in the field of Bio-Medical Engineering.
As a bio-medical engineer, you can do a lot of cool stuff as exciting as in the other fields of engineering. Similarly, if you miss out on becoming a Medical Doctor or Dentist, you can still remain very close to the field by studying Pharmacy.
You can enjoy medical research if you pursue higher studies in any of the branches of Bio-Medical Sciences. If you are among those who are confused whether to go for Engineering or Medicine, then you should consider Pharmacy. As a pharmaceutical scientist, you can have a bit of both worlds.
If you are someone who enjoys counselling and interacting with patients, then Clinical Pharmacy is also there. Government job options like Railway Pharmacist or Drug Controller are also there; although they are competitive but exclusive for Pharmacy graduates.
There are many other career paths and prospects in various industries – Pharmaceutical, Food, FMCG, IT, Healthcare, Academia, Govt. sector etc. But, I will discuss them in details along with current problems and future prospects in the follow up article.
To sum up, Pharmacy is a very exciting field. It is competitive, but career prospects are exciting and rewarding. This is something I am saying from my own experience. Last but not the least, pharmacy is a great field to serve the society and mankind – hence a noble profession as well.