Most of society seems to turn its back on felons, and opportunities are difficult to come by after being released from prison. There are resources available even though felons may not believe they can find a job.
Often, felons must look at a different career path which may include returning to school for additional education. While serving their sentence some felons might consider a career in medicine or healthcare. They could explore a career as a pharmacist.
This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a pharmacist.
- What is a Pharmacist?
- What Education/Training Does a Pharmacist Need?
- How Much Does a Pharmacist Earn?
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Recommended Action
What Is a Pharmacist?
A pharmacist is a licensed professional that handles the dispensing of medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, to patients. The primary goal is to provide patients with FDA-approved drugs and other medication.
A pharmacist has a broad knowledge of prescription medicines, including how:
- They work
- To take them
- They might affect people
- They interact with other drugs
A pharmacist works in pharmacies, including those in drug stores and grocery stores. He or she also works in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
A pharmacist typically does the following:
- Fills prescriptions
- Verifies instructions from physicians
- Checks interaction effects of prescriptions
- Instructs patients on taking a prescribed medicine
- Informs patients about potential side effects
- Gives flu shots and other vaccinations
- Works with insurance companies
- Oversees the work of pharmacy technicians
- Keeps medication records
To be successful as a pharmacist someone must have numerous essential skills, including:
- Analytical skills to provide safe medications
- Knowledge of medications
- Communication skills to deal with patients
- Computer skills to use an electronic health record (EHR) system
- Detail-oriented to ensure the accuracy of prescriptions
- Managerial skills to oversee a pharmacy
- Maintaining confidentiality
What Education/Training Does a Pharmacist Need?
In order to become a pharmacist, a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree from an accredited pharmacy program is required. Most pharmacy graduate programs expect at least two years of undergraduate study, although some require a bachelor’s degree.
In 2017, there were 128 Doctor of Pharmacy programs fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Most programs require applicants to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT).
Pharmacy graduate programs are typically four years, though some are three years. An internship or another supervised work experience is usually required as a component of the academic program.
After they finish a pharmacy program, candidates must pass two exams to get a license. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) tests pharmacy skills and knowledge. The Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a state-specific test on pharmacy law is also required.
Pharmacists who administer vaccinations and immunizations need to be certified in most states. States typically use the American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery program as a qualification for certification.
The following classes are typically required during the professional phase of pharmacy education:
- Human anatomy
- Organic chemistry
- Clinical pharmacy skills
- Pharmacy skills lab
- Principles of pharmacology
All students must complete experiential coursework as well. In an internship, they work in community and hospital pharmacies to gain on-site training from practicing pharmacists.
How Much Does a Pharmacist Earn?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there are approximately 323,500 pharmacists in the U.S. The median annual pay for pharmacists was $128,570 in 2021. Earnings increase with experience and vary by location.
Experience will also make a difference in how much a pharmacist earns annually. The area of the country in which a pharmacist works also makes a difference in their earnings. Those on the East or West coast typically earn more than one that works elsewhere.
The job outlook for pharmacists is strong, with a growth of 2% expected between 2021 and 2031, which is slower than average.
An Opportunity for Felons?
A felon can pursue any degree he or she wants. Approximately 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, although there is no standard policy regarding a background check. Any felon that wants to get a degree in preparation for becoming a pharmacist can find a college that will accept him or her. A felon may have difficulty getting accepted into many pharmacy schools, but there are programs that will accept a felon.
Typically, an accredited pharmacy program will conduct a background check on students at various times during their enrollment. Usually, this occurs prior to the beginning term and at least before the experiential portion of the program.
The background check prior to any practicum is due to the regulations set by the practice sites. If this check shows any legal issues, a student may not be allowed to complete the program and will not be eligible to become a pharmacist.
The criminal background check will review a person’s criminal history for the past seven years. These criteria will be included:
- Social Security number validation
- Felony convictions, especially for the sale, possession, or distribution of narcotics or controlled substances
- Misdemeanor convictions against persons (physical or sexual abuse)
- Misdemeanor convictions related to moral turpitude (prostitution, public lewdness/exposure)
- Registration as a sex offender
The state board will review each application on a case-by-case basis and considers the following:
- Nature and severity of the crime
- How recently the crime was committed
- Signs of rehabilitation
- Other related factors like any prior conviction
The board will make a determination for approval or denial for the completion of the practicum and eligibility for licensing after evaluating the entire application and supporting evidence.
It is important to be honest in filling out an application when applying for pharmacy school or licensing as a pharmacist. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.
In order to be successful as a pharmacist, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already viewed with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.
Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a pharmacist. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.
It is a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to become a pharmacist. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding.
Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a pharmacist with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.