BS in Pharmacy in the Philippines

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Program Overview

The Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy is a four-year college degree intended for people who wants to have a career in the various fields of the pharmaceutical industry. The study of pharmacy focuses on the identification, discovery, isolation, synthesis, and formulation of biologically active compounds for clinical use.

The BS Pharmacy curriculum comprises of 72-units of CHED-mandated general education courses, 30-units essential core subjects, and 90-units professional pharmacy courses presented thru lectures and laboratory classes. The program requires Thesis and Research Project in addition to the Practicum in the three major pharmaceutical areas of internship, namely the community, hospital and manufacturing.

Graduates of BS in Pharmacy are provided with a broad spectrum of training that may lead to employment in a wide range of scientific fields, principally in higher education institutions, community drug stores, hospitals, government agencies, research establishments, public health and in the pharmaceutical industry. They may also choose to continue with Medical education.

Is Pharmacy a profession?

Pharmacy is a profession. A graduate of BS in Pharmacy who passed the Pharmacist Licensure Examination is called a Pharmacist. Pharmacists are trained healthcare professionals who perform various roles in the healthcare industry. They are competent in managing drug stores; in identifying, developing, manufacturing and dispensing of drugs; and in providing pharmaceutical care as well as counseling clients in the proper use of both prescribed and patient chosen medications.

What are the admission requirements for BS Pharmacy?

Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
  • Must be a high school graduate. Those who did not complete high school education may opt to first attend Alternative Learning System (ALS) and pass the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) to qualify for college. However, some universities only offer selected courses for PEPT passers admission.
  • Must passed the college entrance examination
  • Must pass the interview conducted by the college / university admission officer
  • Medical laboratory results and health certificate
  • Good Moral certificate from the previous school (sometimes from enrollees Barangay)
  • Particular ratings in the National Secondary Assessment Test (NSAT)
  • Some schools require particular rating in the National Secondary Assessment Test (NSAT)
  • Some schools require particular high school grade or gross point average

What skills will help you succeed in this course?

  • Ability to carry out basic mathematical and statistical computations
  • Critical, analytical and problem solving skills
  • Adequate technical writing skills
  • Being able to make observations and distinguish small differences between samples and events
  • Objective viewpoint for discerning information and analyzing biases of other people
  • Ability to perform various laboratory tasks independently or as part of a team
  • Effective oral communication abilities

How difficult is this course?

Generally, Pharmacy is a difficult college course. There are a lot of chemistry and pharmaceutical subjects that necessitate hard work, comprehension and memorization. Laboratory discussions and thesis defense require patience, dedication and proficiency in communication. Learning about doses and several clinical procedures involve problem solving and mathematical competencies.

How long does it take to complete BS in Pharmacy in the Philippines?

The BS in Pharmacy program takes 4 years to complete (Note: this may change due to the K-12 integration). The program may be completed in a shorter time in schools that follow the trimestral curriculum.

On the Job training / Internship

CHED mandated a practicum or on-the-job training (OJT) for BS Pharmacy students as a requirement for graduation (see source - section 10). Students will undergo a total of 960 hours of hands-on training to provide them with actual experience in the various fields of pharmacy. 200 hours will be spent for each area of pharmacy, namely the retail (drugstore), clinical (hospital), and manufacturing (pharmaceutical company). The final 360 hours will be allocated to a major internship. This will help the students decide the particular specialization they will pursue and provide them the necessary competencies and skills.

Specializations of BS in Pharmacy:

  • BS in Pharmacy Major in Clinical Pharmacy – focuses with the clinical or hospital aspects of pharmacology, such as giving patient accurate drug information and advising physicians in possible pharmaceutical treatments in specialized areas of practice such as psychiatry, ambulatory care, cardiology, pediatrics, critical care, neurology, etc.
  • BS in Pharmacy major in Community / Retail Pharmacy – deals with concepts, theories, and principles of marketing pharmaceutical products and entrepreneurship of pharmacy business. Aside from health care administration, the course includes pharmaceutical management, business planning, feasibility studies as well as product information, price, promotion and distribution.
  • BS in Pharmacy major in Manufacturing Pharmacy – concentrates on the study of principles, methods and technology involved in the research, development and production of various pharmaceutical products, including the requirements for packaging, equipments and manufacturing facilities.

The Board Exam

A Pharmacy graduate needs to take the Pharmacist Licensure Examination before he/she can practice as a Registered Pharmacist. The examination is conducted by the Board of Pharmacy under the supervision of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC). It is scheduled twice a year, usually in the months of June and January.

The Pharmacist Examination consists of two major divisions: Pharmacy as Science and Pharmacy as Practice.

Pharmacy as Science examination includes subjects such as Pharmaceutical Microbiology, Drug Delivery Systems, Manufacturing Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Biochemistry, Pharmacognosy and Philippine Medicinal Plants.

The scope of Pharmacy as Practice includes Pharmaceutical Calculations, Hospital Pharmacy, Dispensing and Counseling, Jurisprudence and Ethics, Marketing, and Pharmaceutical Administration and Management.

In order to be licensed as a Registered Pharmacist, a candidate must obtain a general weighted average of 75% or over with no ratings of 50% in more than 2 subjects. An examinee with weighted average below 75% but not lower than 70%, with no ratings of 50% in 2 subjects may register as Pharmacy Assistant and can work as such under the supervision of a Registered Pharmacist. A Pharmacy Assistant should pass succeeding Board Exam to become duly Registered Pharmacist. (see source: sections 16 and 17).

Career opportunities for BS Pharmacy graduates

  • Jobs for licensed Pharmacists (board exam passers)

    • Entry Level jobs
      Jobs requiring no prior to minimal level of experience:
      • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative (Med Rep) – are sales people employed by pharmaceutical companies to persuade doctors to prescribe their drugs to patients.
      • Community Pharmacist – works to ensure the correct and safe supply of medical products to the general public while abiding by legal and ethical guidelines; involved in maintaining and improving people's health by providing advice and information and supplying prescription medicines.
      • Hospital Pharmacist – works in a hospital pharmacy service primarily within the public sector; uses specialist knowledge to dispense drugs and advice patients about the medicines they have been prescribed; works collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to devise the most appropriate drug treatment for patients.
      • Regulatory Affairs Officer – ensures the appropriate licensing, marketing and legal compliance of pharmaceutical and medical products such as medicines, chemicals, pesticides, therapeutic devices and other products.
    • Mid-Level Positions
      Require trainings and prior job experience of a few years:
      • Pharmacy Manager – responsible for daily operational functions of the Pharmacy, training and scheduling staff, ensuring compliance with expectations; and developing and monitoring quality improvement processes
      • Process Development Pharmacist – responsible for identifying and developing new procedures for drug and medicine manufacture, as well as implementing process controls to ensure that quality products are manufactured in a reproducible manner.
      • Clinical Research Associate – employed by pharmaceutical companies to run clinical trials to test new or existing drugs for their effectiveness, risks, benefits, and to ensure they are safe to allowed on to the market.
      • Medical Research Scientist – work to develop new, or improve existing drugs, treatments or other medically related products to increase scientific knowledge on topics related to medicine through the use of experiments.
      • Pharmacologist – investigates how drugs and chemicals interact with biological systems; aims to understand how drugs work so they can be used effectively and safely; carries out research to aid drug discovery and development.
    • Advanced Positions
      Require years of extensive experience and practice:
      • Chief Pharmacist – manages and supervise the overall operations of a pharmaceutical company, be it in retail, hospital or in manufacture
      • Higher Education Professors – facilitate learning and carry out research activities in universities and some colleges of further education. They teach academic subjects to undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
      • Environmental Health Practitioners – act as advisers, educators, consultants, managers and enforcement officers, ensuring people are able to live, work and play in safe, healthy environments.
  • Jobs for Non Board Passers:

    • Pharmacy Assistant – helps the Pharmacist in dispensing medicines in community, hospital or in industrial setting
    • Pharmacy Technician – help licensed Pharmacists in performing routine tasks such as counting tablets and labeling bottles to help prepare prescribed medication.
  • Jobs not related to Pharmacy that graduates can apply to

    • Call center agent – answers phone calls and inquiries of clients and provides customer support, usually to people from other countries
    • Administrative Staff – personnel responsible for the organization and management of office duties and tasks; positions that include office secretary, personal assistant and office clerk
    • Freelancer working online – doing online jobs for clients abroad, such as data entry, article writing, SEO, customer support, administrative support etc., which mainly depends on your skills
  • Career Opportunities Abroad

    There is limited demand abroad for Filipinos in Pharmacy-related jobs. Only a handful of job vacancies are available for Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians and Pharmacy Assistants in Gulf countries such as Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar (source).
  • Salary Levels

    In the Philippines, Pharmacists in private and government sector shall receive a starting salary equivalent to Salary Grade Level 15 (source, sec 34) which amounts to about php24,000 to php26,000 a month (source). However, fresh graduates of BS Pharmacy at the entry level actually earn about php8,000 to php13,000 a month, while those who have more experience and work in supervisory positions have a salary range of php15,000 to php20,000 per month (source).

    Salaries for those who work abroad are generally much higher.

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Reviews of BS in Pharmacy graduates:

W. C.
◈ Studied B.S. Pharmacy
◈ At University of the Philippines Manila
◈ Graduated 2009

list bulletAbout my college education:
If you like chemistry mixed with health science, then this is the course for you.
It is interesting because you get to synthesize all sorts of drugs and chemicals! You spend a lot of time in the lab mixing chemicals and looking at what visible reactions occur, test different substances to analyze their purity and content, and even formulate pharmaceutical products such as suspensions, elixirs, creams, etc. In this aspect, you get to unleash your inner child who dreamed of being like scientists you see on TV whenever you do experiments.

Apart from the chemistry part of the course, there is also the health sciences, where you learn about diseases and the different drugs used to treat them. This is where memorization comes into play, because there are a lot of drugs out there! Not often do you get to have the education of a chemical engineer and that of a doctor (when it comes to drugs) , but pharmacy is the perfect blend of these two fields.

Pharmacy forms the transition from the lab (where the drug is made) all the way towards the clinics (where the final intended use of the drug is given to the patient) . Thus it is both enjoyable and challenging.

However, all these cool things about the course do come with a price. Compared to others, pharmacy is a difficult course in general. There's a lot of chemistry and analysis, hard work, dedication, math, and memorization as well.
For my alma mater specifically, the pharmaceutical chemistry subjects are notorious in failing a lot of students. The attrition rate (percentage of students being irregular/delayed bec of failing 1 or more subjects) is quite high. I am not exaggerating, so before choosing UP college of pharmacy as your education, consider it very carefully. Many people had difficulty in the early math subjects, many of the chemistry subjects, and some of the clinical subjects. Failing just one major seasonal subject (offered only once a year) , will get you delayed for 1 year.
This isn't to scare or discourage you from taking this course, but to give you a realistic view.

Nevertheless, after all the struggles and difficulties faced in UP college of pharmacy- if you persevered despite all setbacks and trials- you will come out as an excellent graduate with a high competitive advantage over pharmacy graduates of other college graduates. We've continually had a 100% passing rate in the board exam, with many topnotchers as well. Also, many pharmaceutical companies you apply to would put you in the top of their list because you are a graduate of UP. This is speaking from experience.

list bulletMy current job:
Regulatory associate in a pharmaceutical company

list bulletAm I using what I learned in college:
Definitely! As I mentioned, the environment fosters resourcefulness, to think outside the box (to be an independent thinker) . This is very much needed in the working world, as there are no simple answers to the problems you face in your profession. The education is definitely being applied in terms of drug manufacture and drug information. But I believe the values and skills you learned from the college have a more important contribution. As the course is very difficult in our school, graduating from it will give you perseverance and confidence to face whatever obstacles at work, because you know you already endured "hell" from school and survived.

list bulletHow long did it take to find a job after graduation:
After the board exam, I got a job 2-3 months after the results.

list bulletDo I recommend studying Pharmacy:
Contrary to popular beliefs, pharmacists aren't just sales people behind counters in drug stores. There are many career opportunities - you can work in the lab, company, or hospital. The growth and number of jobs are increasing around the world, not to mention with high compensation such as in the US or Canada.

Pharmacists are enjoying lucrative careers within our country and abroad. There is no shortage of job opportunities, as they are very much in demand. You also get to have a wide variety of career options-being able to apply in manufacturing plants and labs just like a chemist or chemical engineer, but also being able to apply in hospitals in the healthcare profession, and also work in companies such as in sales and regulations.

The salary is high when you work in companies locally, but the salary in drug stores and hospitals locally aren't that high. Abroad is a different story - it is one of the high-paying jobs, comparable to nursing.
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