Are Pharmacists Doctors? What Can I Do To Become A “Dr.”

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 who are not in the medical field the doctor title.

Therefore, the “are pharmacists doctors?” question is a contextual one. In a clinical setting, a pharmacist may decline the doctor 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.

Who is A Doctor?

Originally, the word doctor is a derivative of a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), which is 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 when we step into the hospital and not a pharmacist.

However, there’s another argument that the pharmacist knows more drugs than the medical doctor. So, would you want to actually tell a physician your medical challenge or you will rather 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 treat other matters as well that will help clarify whether pharmacists are doctors.

Differences Between Pharmacist and Doctor

Anyone with a basic knowledge of the medical career will point out with ease that both professionals provide medical services to patients.

However, does this make them both doctors? What actually makes medical doctors distinct from pharmacists? So, we’ll treat their differences in this section using some key subheadings.

Here are the pharmacists vs doctor differences:

Definition of Pharmacist Vs Doctor:

Doctors are professionals who assess patients, diagnose their medical conditions and determine the suitable course of 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, and their service time includes day, night, and every day of the week.

Pharmacists, on the other hand, ensure that you get the right prescription you were asked by the doctor to get. They also explain to you how and when to take your medication so that you can recover quickly.

However, in some cases, the pharmacist may also provide some basic 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.

Education of Pharmacist Vs Doctor:

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 your 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.

RELATED:  Medicine Postgraduate Scholarship at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) for Developing Countries 2018

On the other hand, while studying pharmacy may be as rigorous as studying medicine, it doesn’t so long to complete. Maybe just four years. You’ll normally study pharmacology, pharmaceutical chemistry, physiology, etc., to become a pharmacist.

In the process, you’ll learn to look for possible drug interactions. This is because while practicing, you may encounter patients receiving treatments from more than one doctor.

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.

Accreditation of Pharmacy Vs Doctor:

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.

Responsibilities of Pharmacists Vs Doctors:

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 as well as 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.

Salaries of Pharmacists Vs Doctors:

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 jobs and are 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.

How Can I Become a Doctor?

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.

RELATED:  Harvard Business School Need-Based Scholarships

You can even get scholarships to become a doctor, see our 25 Undergraduate Scholarships For Medical Students 2021.

However, check to be sure that 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.

Step By Step Guide to Become a Doctor

To become 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.

First Step: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Like many other careers, the first requirement to become a doctor is to get a bachelor’s degree.  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 require you to complete undergraduate coursework in biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics.

See Also: World Scholarship Forum: Top Medical Schools in the World 2021

In preparation for medical school, you can go get a healthcare experience. You may do this by volunteering in hospitals, clinics or other healthcare settings while still in school.

Second Step: Take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT)

Almost all medical schools in the States require you to make the MCAT performance scores. This is the next crucial requirement to become a doctor. For the MCAT, you’ll be assessed on biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics.

This standardized examination also assesses your problem solving, verbal reasoning, and writing skills. If you plan on making a 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.

Third Step: Earn a Medical Degree

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 years will involve hands-on experience. You’ll work directly with patients under the supervision of experienced doctors.

See Also: APPLY NOW: MBBS in the USA for International Students 2020-2021

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, covers a variety of specialty areas, including neurology, radiology, and medicine.

This is mainly done in the third year, and it gives you the chance to discover the type of residency you’ll prefer to pursue after graduation.

Fourth Step: Complete a Residency Program

You get to start a residency program only when you’ve earned a medical degree. After that, completing your residency program is the next requirement to become a doctor.

The residency program gives you the opportunity to work directly with patients in a specialty area of medicine. Some of these specialty areas are 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.

Fifth Step: Get a License

getting a license is one of the most important requirements to become a doctor. This is because all states in the US require physicians to acquire a license before practicing medicine.

RELATED:  Funded Stanford University Draper Hills Summer Fellowship Program 2018

You’ll need to graduate from an accredited medical school, however, 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 be different from state to state so you’ll have to contact their state’s medical board for specific licensing information.

Furthermore, you’ll need to periodically renew your licenses. 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.

Final Step: Get Certified to Advance Career

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 education to be able to acquire further recertification.

In Conclusion:

Are pharmacists doctors? Yes, pharmacists are doctors in technical terms, the same way 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.

Thus, if you would like to attach the doctor’s title to your name and take it with you everywhere you go, you’ll have to follow through our requirements on how to become a doctor.

We Also Recommend:

Are Pharmacists Doctors: Frequently Asked Questions


The Pharm.D. is a professional degree similar to a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). The Doctor of Pharmacy degree (often abbreviated Pharm.D. or PharmD) is required to sit for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX).  The NAPLEX is one component of the licensure process required to practice as a pharmacist. As a doctorate, it represents the increasing responsibility pharmacists have in health care systems and the high trust Americans have in pharmacists. After earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and passing licensure examinations, College of Pharmacy graduates can practice pharmacy anywhere in the country.


It takes about three to four years of undergraduate pre-professional (prerequisite) coursework, followed by four academic years in the professional program. Most students need four years to complete their prerequisite courses. Thus, it usually takes eight years of college study to earn a Pharm.D. and become a pharmacist. 


The Doctor of Pharmacy program is for people who want to work as pharmacists. The Ph.D. program is intended for people interested in careers in research.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average Pharmacist salary is $120,270 annually. The highest-paid Pharmacists earn more than $157,950 per year, and even the lowest-paid Pharmacists are paid $87,120.

Comments are closed.

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission.

You May Also Like