How to become a pharmacist in Nigeria

Are you interested in knowing how to become a pharmacist in Nigeria? Don’t worry, you are fortunate to have come across this article.

The job of a pharmacist makes the treatment of medics a reality. Pharmacists give medications to ensure that they get the best of treatments through the drugs administered by them; they formulate the drugs and give the right dosage and even guide patients on the right way to use the drugs.

Overview of how to become a pharmacist in Nigeria

That’s why Pharmacists are sacrosanct in the field of health and medicine, especially in a place like Nigeria where the health sector is still developing and yet to reach the standard peak of practice.

It means one has to be an excellent pharmacist in order to make the resources available to go around the population of over two hundred million.

Pharmacists in Nigeria are highly revered as they offer their services to patients with more ease than expected; sometimes, they even play the role of a doctor by helping to and just go ahead to administer treatment to patients who have inadequate funds to meet a doctor; this is depending on the nature of the sickness though.

Choosing to become a pharmacist is a great deal because you intend to join the team of heroes on the health line saving lives every day and helping to recover people from ill-health.

Now, working towards achieving it in Nigeria is another procedure that needs your zeal, passion, and determination to make your dream come true.

Like any other profession, trade, or handwork, one needs to learn so that one can formulae drugs correctly, administer drugs correctly, and even prevent the harmful usage of the drug.

  Taking the Steps to Become A Pharmacist

Hard work and observation are two key ingredients that a becoming pharmacist should possess, this is so because you need to study hard and observes to acquire the needed knowledge.

While learning, ensure to learn smartly for lifelong purposes. Below are guidelines for Education before you become a pharmacist:

  • Attend a Secondary School:

In Nigeria, you start tilting towards your career by offering specific subjects from high or secondary school that relates to your course of study in the university; this is to give the background general knowledge of what is to come in your course of study.

For becoming a pharmacist, while in senior secondary school, it is advised to be in science class, where you can offer subjects like physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, and other science-related subjects.

To proceed into the University in Nigeria, you need to write a Joint Administrative Matriculation Board Examination [JAMB] where you will sit for four subjects; they are chemistry, physics, biology, and English which is a core subject.

  • Get a Degree:

Going into the University takes you a step further into becoming a pharmacist. In Nigeria, the course of study is for five years, whether you choose to attend a public or private University; ensure to attend an institution approved by the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria; they regulate the institutions to ensure that standards are meted out to the public. You can choose to study to acquire a bachelor’s or Doctor of Pharmacy.

It takes five years to earn a bachelor’s degree for administration students who got admitted through Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination [UTME], while for Direct Entry Students, it takes Four Years.

While to earn a doctor’s degree in Pharmacy, it takes six years for UTME students and five years for Direct Entry students; where clinical practice is paramount for students to become skilled in handling patients and their prescriptions.

  • Induction and Internship are the Next:

After earning your degree, the next process is to get your induction, where you get to become a part of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria.

To further your becoming a professional pharmacist is to go for an internship where hands-on experience is acquired and you get to learn from other professionals.

While interning, all the fields of pharmacy have to be visited, hence, if, in an organization where the fields are not complete, you have to revolve around the various fields.

The fields include hospitals, community pharmacies, pharmaceutical industries, academia, pharmacy store regulatory bodies, and others.

In Nigeria, it takes a year to intern to get all the prerequisite knowledge that is needed to add up capacity to become a professional pharmacist.

  • Write Pre-Registration Examination for Pharmacists:

Immediately after the internship, the next step is to get the pre-registration exam done. This is done according to the statute of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria.

The examination is carried out twice a year n Nigeria; one in the month of March, and another in October. The examination is to test the students if they have acquired the necessary knowledge, skills, and standard attitude in the various fields of pharmacy where they have interned and to ensure their practice does not jeopardize the health of the public they are about serving.

Furthermore, the pass mark of the examination is fifty percent; if the cut off mark isn’t met by a student, there is the opportunity to re-write four times, if after the fourth time, and the student still didn’t pass, the student is required to attend a refresher program as laid down by the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria, and then can only take a sitting of examination to pass this stage.

The examination is not meant to ridicule the students or make the process difficult; it is to ensure that the product of pharmacists given to society is excellent and will not harm the public; rather they will dispense their duties for the good of the public.

Students are tested in various aspects; they include pharmaceutical care, supply of medicines, organization and management, public health information, drug production, quality assurance, and others. Knowledge in these fields makes for what qualifies one as a professional pharmacist in Nigeria.

  • Proceed to Serve the Nation:

There is a scheme in Nigeria that entails all Nigerian youths who have acquired a degree to go through, it is to serve the nation.

This was introduced by the then military governor, General Yakubu Gowon in 1973 as a means to rebuild and reconcile the nation after it experienced its civil war.

After pharmacists must have gone through the above processes, they register with The National Youth Service Corps to serve the nation; their primary place of duty is determined by the scheme, not the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, although, most times, they consider the field of study of corps members.

The service is usually between the duration of one year. After service, get a job, and if buoyant enough, start a pharmaceutical retail store business.

Places Where Pharmacists Can Work in Nigeria

The services of professional pharmacists are needed in society, while medical doctors and nurses are doing the job of treating patients, pharmacists are in the act and art of seeing to the production of drugs, giving out quality, prescribing the drugs, and ensuring that dosage given to the patients are used correctly.

There are various fields or places where they can function effectively for the good of the public. Find them below;

  • Pharmacists can Work in a Retail Store: The retail store so far in continuous occurrence has been the largest employer of pharmacists in Nigeria.

The retail Store to get drugs is a fast-selling business and service and people need to get their drugs, most times outside the hospitals because few hospitals have their pharmacy store within; doctors simply prescribe to patients.

In these pharmacy stores, the job of the pharmacist is to interpret the prescription of the doctor and give the patient the right drug.

Well-trained and professional Pharmacists are highly needed in these stores to prevent quackery and wrong drug administration.

One can say the pharmacy stores outnumber hospitals, so pharmacists are needed in these retail stores.

  • Pharmacists can Work in Hospitals: There are some hospitals in Nigeria that situate their pharmacy stores within.

This is common in general hospitals, teaching hospitals, and government hospitals. Here, pharmacists work for hand in glove with the doctors and nurses to give the right dosage to ensure that treatment is effective on the patient.

They are also in charge of the organization and management of the drug store; sometimes, they are in charge of the inventory of the drug store.

  • Pharmacists could work in Research Lab: some pharmacists also work in the research laboratory to make findings on the effectiveness of a drug and to see how better ones can be produced.

Although, pharmacists who choose to work here, need to acquire a certification or more knowledge about the medical laboratories.

This is common in pharmaceutical companies who seek to improve the quality of their products and their effect on patients who use them.

A typical example is the upgrade of chloroquine to cure malaria, in checking the effect, it was improved, now, malaria drugs in Nigeria have more efficient ingredients.

So, if you have an interest in research and have studied to become a pharmacist, you can delve into this field to explore drugs, how they can be improved, and do the good of making society better through your research.

  • A Pharmacist can Work in Military or Government Health Facilities: Some health facilities are owned or controlled by the government, either state or federal, while some are owned by the military.

In these hospitals, pharmacists are also needed for the administration of drugs to their patients. You could apply in one of the two, as the case may be. They most times have their pharmacy stores within the hospital building and operate under an umbrella.

This means that pharmacists will have to work in tandem with the doctors and nurses in the administration of treatment to their patients.

If you find yourself under the employee’s list of the government, then you should be sure to get a pension after thirty-five years of service or after clocking sixty years of age.

  • A Pharmacist can Work in the Academia: To continue to work on building the legacy of Pharmacy and to build more pharmacists, the educational sector has a huge role to play in it, hence, pharmacists are needed to teach becoming pharmacists, if you like to teach and want to become a pharmacist, you still have the opportunity as you can pass the knowledge of pharmacy that you have acquired to other incoming pharmacists.

Pharmacists can work as lecturers in the universities to degree students or in the polytechnics to diploma students of pharmacy.

Either way, you have the opportunity to not just practice, but also to teach aspiring pharmacists to become professionals.

  • A Pharmacist can Work Independently: in Nigeria, it is only a professional pharmacist who is registered with the pharmacy council of Nigeria that can establish a pharmacy store whether retail or wholesale outlet.

This is the business side of pharmacy, whereby individuals or partners who are financially capable of establishing a drug store can start selling drugs to the public.

This must be established according to the standards of the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria for the sake of good public health; drugs must be supplied to the public within the confines of the law.

Here, other pharmacists who are familiar with the terrain of business in pharmacy can help with a consultation to make for a standard pharmacy store.

 Final Words on how to become a pharmacist in Nigeria

Becoming a pharmacist in Nigeria is not as difficult as it seems, it can only be much of a puzzle to those aspiring if they lack interest in the profession and have failed to build one, or they are unable to put in the necessary academic work of studying to know and pass the various test of each level.

Therefore, it is necessary that aspiring pharmacists have an interest in dealing with drugs, and the health of people, if they don’t, they can decide to build interest in it.

Thereafter is to undergo the right processes of offering the right subjects in the secondary school; physics, biology, Chemistry are compulsory science subjects that must be offered.

Apply to institutions that offer pharmacy and are registered with the Pharmacy Council of Nigeria. Intern properly and be faithful to your duties so that you can learn properly and become deft with handling drugs and patients.

In addition, rub minds with other professionals in the field and learn, do the necessary examinations and registrations, then get a job and practice!

Best of luck in your endeavors of becoming a pharmacist, it is a long ride, but it is definitely worth it!


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