Pharmacy is one of the most sought-after courses in Nigerian universities. It is a profession concerned with the art and science of preparing and dispensing medications and the provision of drug-related information to the public.
Pharmacists dispense medications prescribed by physicians and other healthcare professionals and offer expertise in the safe use of prescription and non-prescription medication. They advise physicians and other health practitioners about drug selection, dosages, and interactions.
Pharmacists supervise drug production and ensure that manufactured drugs meet the requirements as specified in the official compendium and conventional requirements before they are supplied to patients from pharmaceutical manufacturers. They oversee and supervise drug supply chain and ensure that the supply of drugs is within the law.
Does this sound like the type of work you would enjoy and be successful at? Here is a step by step guide on how to become a Pharmacist in Nigeria.
Step 1: Get Required Certifications
To become a pharmacist in Nigeria, you will need to earn a Bachelor of Pharmacy (B. Pharm.) or Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from a college of pharmacy that is accredited by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria. To obtain a B. Pharm certificate, prospective pharmacists are required to undergo pharmacy undergraduate training that lasts for five (5) years for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) candidates and four (4) years for Direct Entry applicants in any of the approved universities offering pharmacy in Nigeria. This is a little bit different from Pharm. D. program which lasts for six (6) years for UTME candidates and five (5) years for Direct Entry applicants.
While Pharm.D. focuses on clinical practice and allows the student to get a hands-on experience while working as a pharmacist, B. Pharm. is more research-oriented and focuses on the manufacture of drugs and what new discoveries can be made in this field.
Upon graduation from a pharmacy school, successful candidates will be inducted into the noble profession by the Pharmacist Council of Nigeria (PCN). The provisional registration of fresh graduates commences during the induction (oath-taking) ceremony. At this stage, the joy of studying pharmacy sets in but it is not the end but just the beginning of another level of your journey to becoming a pharmacist.
Step 2: Internship Program
After induction into the profession, you are expected to undergo a compulsory twelve-month internship program where you will practise as a pharmacist under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. Here, you will learn a lot more about the profession and have an opportunity to relate with other professionals.
Internship training experience can be acquired in diverse practice settings and it should reflect the current changing roles of the pharmacist; noting that pharmaceutical care is the current philosophy of practice. Where a practice setting does not offer all the aspects of the required experience, arrangements are usually made for split-site or rotational training experience.
Pharmacy graduates can do their internship programs in the following practice settings:
- Hospitals – Tertiary and Secondary Health Facilities
- Community Pharmacies (rotation required)
- Pharmaceutical industry (rotation required)
- Regulatory Agencies (rotation required)
- Academia (rotation required)
You can check out our article on “Current List of PCN Accredited Internship Training Centres for Pharmacy Graduates”
Step 3: Pre-registration Exam for Pharmacists
It is no longer news that the Governing Council of PCN at its 39th Regular Meeting of May 21, 2015, has approved the Report of the Ad hoc Committee on Pre- Registration Examination for fresh pharmacy graduates who have completed the one-year mandatory internship training prior to seeking full registration to practice in Nigeria. The objective of the pre-registration examination is to ascertain that those who have undertaken the internship training programme have acquired the requisite knowledge, attitudes and skills to practise pharmacy in Nigeria without endangering Public Health.
The examination holds twice a year, March and October and the pass mark is 50%. Candidates are eligible to sit for the examination to a maximum of four (4) attempts, upon the payment of prescribed fee and fulfilment of other conditions. Candidates who were unable to make it after four attempts are required to undergo a refresher program as may be prescribed by PCN before making one (1) more attempt.
Candidates are assessed in the following areas
- Pharmaceutical Care (Patient Focus) – Establishing Professional Relationship with Patients; Collecting Patient-Specific Objective and Subject Data; Evaluating Data to Identify Drug Therapy Problems; Patient & Drug-Focused Interventions; Outcome Assessment; and Documentation.
- Supply of Medicines (Product Focus) – Compounding of Medicines; Dispensing of Medicines and Information; and Monitoring/ Evaluation.
- Public Health (Population Focus) – Health Promotion; Health information & Education; Disease Prevention in Populations.
- Organization & Management (System Focus) – Budget & Health Care Financing; Human Resource Management; Quality Management; Conflict Management; Logistics & Supply Chain Management; Workplace Management.
- Professional/ Personal Management (Practice Focus) – Communication Skills; Continuing Professional Development; Legal & Regulatory Practice; Professional & Ethical Practice; Research in Workplace; Self- Management.
- Drug Production & Quality Assurance (Product Focus) – Unit Operations for Manufacturing Sterile and Non-Sterile Pharmaceuticals, current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP), Standard Operating Procedures.
Step 4: National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)
The National Youth Service Corp is another compulsory phase in your journey to becoming a Pharmacist in Nigeria. It is a scheme set up by the Nigerian government under decree No.24 of 22nd May 1973 in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war. This is known as national service year.
During the one-year national service year, you are expected to serve your fatherland. The state where you are posted to and your place of primary assignment are not determined by PCN but by NYSC. Once you are done with NYSC, you are free to practice in any field of pharmacy and in any part of the country.
Now that you have read how to become a pharmacist in 4 steps, check out our articles on basic admission requirements for studying pharmacy in Nigeria, accredited universities for pharmacy programmes in Nigeria, pharmacy curriculum and core courses of pharmacy, career opportunities for pharmacists in Nigeria, procedure for registration of pharmacists in Nigeria and pharmacist’s salary.
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