Senior Care Pharmacists


Education and Training Requirements

High School

You can start preparing for this career while you are in high school. Begin by taking a college preparatory curriculum. Be sure to take four years of math courses, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, and four years of science, including biology, chemistry, and physics. Take computer science classes so that you are comfortable working with computers, and English classes to develop your research and writing skills. You may also want to take business classes to learn management skills and business basics. Other courses you should take include history, government, a foreign language, and a social science, such as psychology.

Postsecondary Training

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education is the accrediting organization for professional programs in pharmacy that offer the doctor of pharmacy (Pharm.D.), which, since 2005, has completely replaced the bachelor's of science degrees in pharmacy (B.Pharm.). The B.Pharm. degree, and all bachelor's programs in this field, have been terminated. If you want to become a pharmacist, you should plan on getting the doctorate degree, which generally takes six years to complete.

Your first year or two of study does not take place in a school of pharmacy but rather in a general college setting where you will complete pre-pharmacy classes. Studies typically include chemistry, organic chemistry, biology, physics, calculus, statistics, anatomy, English, and social science classes, such as psychology or sociology. After completing this undergraduate work, you will need to gain admission to a school of pharmacy. If you are attending a large university that has a school of pharmacy, you may want to apply there. You may also apply for admission to schools of pharmacy that are not part of your undergraduate school. In addition to completing pre-pharmacy course work, some pharmacy schools require applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admission Test (P-CAT) to be considered for admission.

Once you are in pharmacy school, you will take courses such as the principles of pharmacology, biochemistry, pharmacy law and ethics, and pharmaceutical care. Because geriatric pharmacy is a growing field, more and more schools are offering courses with a focus on the elderly and their pharmaceutical care needs. In addition, your education should include an internship, sometimes known as a clerkship, in which you work under the supervision of a professional pharmacist. When deciding on a school to attend, it is advisable that you consult the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education's listing of accredited professional programs of colleges and schools of pharmacy at

Other Education or Training

Senior care pharmacists need to complete continuing education (CE) on a regular basis to maintain their certification or licensing, as required by their state. Continuing education may be done through correspondence (written responses to educational material, usually done online) or by attending conferences, workshops, and seminars that are offered by professional associations such as the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Some states may also require CE in particular disease topics and treatments.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The Board of Pharmacy Specialties offers voluntary certification to pharmacists who serve geriatric populations. To become certified, pharmacists must currently be a licensed pharmacist, have a minimum of two years of experience as a licensed pharmacist, and pass a written exam that focuses on geriatric pharmacy practice. Those who pass receive the designation of certified geriatric pharmacist. While this is a voluntary certification, professionals in the field highly recommend obtaining it as a demonstration of your specialized skills and knowledge. The Board of Pharmacy Specialties also provides certification.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories require practicing pharmacists to be licensed. To become licensed, candidates must have graduated from an accredited pharmacy program, completed an internship under a licensed pharmacist, and passed their state's board examination.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience (an internship, part-time job, etc.) in a pharmacy at a senior care facility will provide a useful introduction to the field. 

Naturally, senior care pharmacists need to be detail-oriented as well as organized. They also need strong communication and people skills since they interact with doctors, nurses, other health professionals, elderly people who are ill, and sometimes an elderly person's family as well. They must be able to work professionally and often patiently when explaining what a medicine will do, how to take it, when to take it, and so on. Senior care pharmacists should also enjoy being around older people and want to help them. These pharmacists must be committed to a lifetime of learning because the field of medicine continues to grow, making new treatments and new methods of treatment available.