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Technically, yes, pharmacists are doctors. At least you have to acquire a PharmD or Dr. of pharmacy to qualify as a practicing pharmacist. But then again, many degrees give several professionals not in the medical field the title of doctor.
Therefore, the “are pharmacists doctors?” question is contextual. In a clinical setting, a pharmacist may decline the doctor’s title.
However, this brings up the pharmacists vs. doctor argument. This post will share the requirements of how to become a doctor if, as a pharmacist, you want to be a doctor in all contexts.
Initially, the word doctor is a derivative of a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), one of the highest attainable academic degrees. Some people will further clarify to medical school students that their doctorate is still entry-level compared to Ph.D.
However, the doctor/physician is who we want to explain our health issues to when we step into the hospital, not a pharmacist.
However, there’s another argument that the pharmacist knows more drugs than the medical doctor. So, would you want to tell a physician your medical challenge, or will you instead tell pharmacists who know all medicine?
This would lead us into a pharmacist vs. doctor discussion where we will treat the similarities and differences between the two professions. We will also treat other matters that will help clarify whether pharmacists are doctors.
Anyone with basic medical career knowledge will readily point out that both professionals provide medical services to patients.
However, does this make them both doctors? What makes medical doctors distinct from pharmacists? So, we’ll treat their differences in this section using key subheadings.
Here are the differences between pharmacists vs doctors:
Doctors are professionals who assess patients, diagnose their medical conditions and determine the suitable treatment for them. Doctors, in most cases, are the patient’s first point of contact on entering the hospital, after the receptionists and hospital clerks.
The doctor is the professional to assess your injury. They determine the severity of injuries and illnesses and specify the conditions that’ll ensure fast and proper healing.
Meanwhile, doctors work in a medical clinic or hospital; their service time includes day, night, and every day of the week.
Pharmacists, on the other hand, ensure that you get the right prescription the doctor asked you to get. They also explain how and when to take your medication so you can recover quickly.
However, in some cases, the pharmacist may also provide some primary medical care like giving flu shots or general health tests. Pharmacists usually work in drug stores or other retail environments. However, you’ll see some in the hospitals.
They may also be open to caring for patients 24 hours a day like a doctor. But the highest they can do is provide general medical advice to the customers they see.
You’ll have to go through years of rigorous studying to become a doctor, after which you still proceed to get a Master’s degree for further specialization. Meanwhile, you go for apprenticeship training under senior doctors following your graduation.
So, after four to six years of earning an undergraduate medical degree, you’ll spend additional years for a Master’s.
You’ll also need to acquire a license. The study duration may differ by country, however, the basic study emphasis remains the same.
On the other hand, while studying pharmacy may be as rigorous as studying medicine, it doesn’t take long to complete. Maybe just four years. To become a pharmacist, you’ll normally study pharmacology, pharmaceutical chemistry, physiology, etc.
In the process, you’ll learn to look for possible drug interactions. This is because you may encounter patients receiving treatments from more than one doctor while practicing.
You’ll have to review the list of drugs on the patient’s file then advise them about what possible warning signs to look for from treatments.
Also, you’ll advise doctors when you see that the patient’s drugs may cause them harm. Your training will, therefore, encompass every medication existing.
The main accreditation body for pharmacists is the Center for Pharmacy Practice Accreditation (CPPA).
They accredit organizations that provide health care, such as pharmacies, and ensure that their quality is up to standard.
However, for physicians or medical doctors, the main accreditation body is the American Medical Association (AMA).
The body promotes public health by ensuring that physicians and health facilities provide quality healthcare to the public.
Your job responsibilities as a doctor will involve getting information from your patients about their health and symptoms.
You’ll also have to update their files, refer them for tests or assessments by other specialists, and give them their diagnosis.
Also, you will have to explain the treatment options available to your patients. One of the requirements to become a good doctor and discharge your role effectively is good cheer. Your expression must convey to your patients that they are okay, even if their condition is bad.
On the other hand, your job responsibility as a pharmacist includes providing general advice about health issues like dieting.
You’ll also have to supervise pharmacy technicians and interns when you work in big organizations that have them. Basically, you’ll be confirming prescriptions and identifying potential complications for the patient’s current prescription.
With a PharmD or Dr of Pharmacy, you start earning big as a pharmacist. The same goes for the medical doctor. Generally, jobs in the medical line are hot and always in demand. With a Dr of Pharmacy, you can earn an average salary of $127,516 annually.
On the other hand, with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) or Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, you can earn an average of $201,860 annually.
Meanwhile, the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the job outlook of pharmacists from now till 2026 to grow by 6%. However, the job outlook for physicians has an estimated growth of 13% and includes family doctors and general practitioners.
From the pharmacist vs doctor analysis, you can see that there are more differences than similarities between the pharmacist and the doctor.
Both of them are in direct contact with the patient, as well as provide general health information to the patient. But the physician is the most likely person a patient will run to when they begin to sense some illness symptoms.
The medical doctor also looks good on both the job salary and career outlook. Besides, they are also the ones who can attach the doctor title to their names anywhere without a flinch of doubt.
It may not seem fair to you that in a conference of medical professionals, you won’t have anyone call you a doctor. Yet, this is some form of justification for the doctor’s length of study.
So, you want to be called doctor all the time? Definitely, you have to set your Dr of Pharmacy aside and embark on the journey to become a doctor.
This is the way to become a doctor. Don’t look at it as a big deal. Several people have taken this path before you. You may even find the journey exciting and enriching. It will add up to your already rich knowledge of medicine.
You can even get scholarships to become a doctor; see our 25 Undergraduate Scholarships For Medical Students 2023.
However, check to be sure you are a problem solver, a leader, and an empathic person. You should also be able to communicate well and be proficient with specialized tools and technology. These are the forefront requirements to become a doctor.
Becoming a doctor is not an easy journey; there are several requirements you must provide or pass. To make this easier for you, we’ll go through these requirements in a couple of steps. Do well to follow these steps.
Like many other careers, getting a bachelor’s degree is the first requirement to become a doctor. To do this, you’ll have to enroll in a medical school.
However, most medical schools are competitive. They seek applicants who have a broad educational background, a solid foundation in the natural sciences, and some clinical experience.
While a specific major is not required, your Dr of Pharmacy may give you an advantage. However, all medical schools need you to complete undergraduate coursework in biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics.
In preparation for medical school, you can get healthcare experience. You may do this by volunteering in hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare settings while still in school.
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Almost all medical schools in the States require you to make the MCAT performance scores. This is the following crucial requirement to become a doctor. You’ll be assessed on biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics for the MCAT.
This standardized examination also assesses your problem-solving, verbal reasoning, and writing skills. If you plan on making medical school, you can take the MCAT up to three times a year.
You won’t get into medical school unless you pass the MCAT.
Oh yes, you’re finally in medical school. The next requirement to become a doctor, however, is to complete medical school. Medical school programs are usually four-year programs.
The first two years will entail classroom and laboratory work, while the last two will involve hands-on experience. You’ll work directly with patients under the supervision of experienced doctors.
Meanwhile, your coursework in medical school will cover topics in pharmacology, pathology, anatomy, and biochemistry.
You see now how your Dr of Pharmacy puts you at an advantage? Additionally, you’ll study the practice of medicine and legal issues related to healthcare.
The clinical experiences, on the other hand, cover various specialty areas, including neurology, radiology, and medicine.
This is mainly done in the third year, giving you a chance to discover the type of residency you prefer to pursue after graduation.
You can start a residency program only when you’ve earned a medical degree. After that, completing your residency program is the following requirement to become a doctor.
The residency program allows you to work directly with patients in a specialty area of medicine. These specialty areas include internal medicine, pediatrics, emergency medicine, psychiatry, and anesthesiology.
If you’ll like to study medicine in India, see the 10 Most Affordable Universities Of Medicine (MBBS) In India
As a resident, you will be responsible for a number of patient care activities such as developing problem lists, performing physical exams, and compiling medical histories. Your residency can last anywhere from three and seven years, depending on your chosen specialty. Can you now see why pharmacists are not doctors?
However, most residents complete their programs in the hospital.
getting a license is one of the most essential requirements to become a doctor. This is because all states in the US require physicians to acquire a license before practicing medicine.
However, you’ll need to graduate from an accredited medical school to qualify for licensure. You must also complete your residency training program and pass several other exams.
One of such exams is The U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). This is a three-step examination you must pass to become an M.D. There is also the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).
You’ll need to take this to become an Osteopathic doctor (D.O). Licensing may differ from state to state so you’ll have to contact their state’s medical board for specific licensing information.
Furthermore, you’ll need to renew your licenses periodically. To do this, however, you’ll have to complete at least 50 hours of continuing education before sitting for the renewal exam. Pretty stressful, right? That’s why pharmacists are not doctors.
Certification is not a compulsory requirement to become a doctor but it increases your employment chances and boosts your earnings. Acquiring further certification will demonstrate that you are an expert in a specific area of medicine.
Meanwhile, certification by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) involves a thorough process of evaluations and assessments.
However, you’ll need to continue your education to acquire further recertification.
A doctor is a licensed medical professional who diagnoses and treats medical conditions, while a pharmacist is a licensed healthcare professional who dispenses medications and provides information about their use.
Yes, a doctor can prescribe medication to diagnose and treat medical conditions.
No, a pharmacist cannot diagnose medical conditions. They can only provide information about medications’ use and potential side effects.
Doctors have a medical degree, typically a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), and complete a residency program. Pharmacists have a Pharm.D. degree and may also complete a residency program.
Are pharmacists doctors? Yes, pharmacists are doctors in technical terms, like an accountant is a doctor for acquiring a doctoral degree in accounting. However, in a congregation of medical practitioners, it won’t be apt to refer to a pharmacist as a doctor even though he has a Dr of Pharmacy.
There are several reasons why the physician is a doctor anywhere and at any time. One such reason is the length of time, and amount of study doctors put in to be able to practice.