Jump to main page content
Purdue signature

College of Pharmacy

Profession of Pharmacy

Pharmacists work closely with the physician, other health professionals and the patient to help assure appropriate use of an ever-increasing spectrum of effective medications. A particular emphasis is educating and motivating patients with respect to the management of their drug therapy as related to their particular medical condition. Overall, the pharmacist is expected to provide pharmaceutical care that helps ensure that drug therapy is appropriate, safe, effective for the condition being treated and cost effective.

During the coming years, the trend toward the pharmacist being a provider of a wide range of pharmacy services will continue to be enhanced, especially in view of rapid advances in biotechnology and the use of technology. The pharmacist uses available patient data, information sources, monitoring processes and interpretive skills toward achieving the goals of optimal use and optimal outcomes from patients’ medications.

The pharmacy profession provides opportunities for pharmacists in hospital pharmacy, community pharmacy (chain or independently owned), home health care, long-term care (e.g., nursing homes), nuclear pharmacy, pharmaceutical industry (including areas of research, drug development, clinical trials, quality control, production, marketing and regulatory affairs) and specialty clinical practice areas (e.g., cardiology, cancer chemotherapy, nutritional support, drug information, pharmacokinetics, geriatrics, pediatrics and others).

The professional curriculum leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) provides the educational background to allow students to enter any of the practice areas of pharmacy. The curriculum also prepares a student to enter advanced study leading to the M.S. or Ph.D. degree in one of the pharmaceutical sciences (e.g., clinical pharmacy, medicinal chemistry, pharmacognosy, pharmacology, toxicology, physical pharmacy, industrial pharmacy, pharmacokinetics or pharmacy administration), and post-graduate residency programs in general or specialty practice areas.

Academic Honesty

Within a professional school, such as the College of Pharmacy, demonstrated academic honesty under the pressures of a rigorous program must be considered one of the foundations of personal and professional character. Pharmacists are called upon regularly to exercise competent judgment based on intellectual abilities and honesty. The pharmacist’s license confers that responsibility, and our school — in certifying graduates for licensure examination — attests to that competency and honesty. For this reason, it is important for students in the school to maintain scrupulous honesty in all academic matters.

Requirements for Entry into the Profession of Pharmacy


To become a licensed pharmacist, it is necessary to meet certain requirements of education and experience. Graduation from an accredited school of pharmacy is required in all states.

Return to top


Practical experience in a pharmacy, before licensure as a pharmacist, is required by all states. Indiana — and most other states — requires that a person be registered or certified as an intern or extern by the Board of Pharmacy in the state where the practical experience is served, at the time the experience is served. Indiana law requires that a candidate for registration as an intern: 1) be a high school graduate and 2) be enrolled in a pharmacy curriculum at an accredited school or college of pharmacy. In Indiana, experience hours can be served in one of two ways, as follows.

First, the internship experience can be served in a pharmacy of the student’s choice on an employment basis, for which the student is compensated. These hours will be accepted only if they are served during periods of vacation from school, not evenings or weekends during the semester. If this method is used, the candidate for licensure must serve a total of 1,040 hours of pharmacy experience, at least 520 hours of which must be served after graduation from an accredited school or college of pharmacy.

The second method for serving practical experience requires that a student successfully complete a structured program (of no fewer than 520 hours) during the pharmacy school curriculum. Clerkship differs from internship in several significant ways: 1) clerkship is served while enrolled in a school of pharmacy and is supervised by the school; 2) clerkship does not create an employer/employee relationship so that the student need not be compensated (ACPE accreditation standards do not allow the students to be compensated); and 3) academic credit is granted for program completion as well as practical experience credit established with the Board of Pharmacy.

The school-supervised clerkship program became a requirement for graduation from the Purdue College of Pharmacy beginning with the class of 1975. Today, pharmacy students participate in both Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE), during the first three years of the professional program, and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE), during the final calendar year of the professional program. These experiences are of suitable intensity, breadth and duration to support achievement of many of the college's stated outcome ability goals. Many of the outcome ability goals not addressed in some of the didactic courses during the first three professional years are stressed and assessed during these experiences.

The Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences program at Purdue University was developed in response to the accreditation standards set forth by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) to provide early experiential learning opportunities for pharmacy students throughout the curriculum. Students explore the concept of professionalism, develop practice skills, explore a variety of career opportunities and gain hands-on experience with patients in the delivery of holistic pharmaceutical care. Multiple opportunities for reflection and group discussion are provided throughout the IPPE program.

The advanced pharmacy practice experiences are satisfied during the final calendar year of the Pharm.D. program when the student completes a series of required and elective clerkships over a 40-week period (1,600 hours). These experiences are designed to allow students to apply what they have learned in the didactic curriculum to the patient-care setting and to practice those skills necessary for making the transition into professional practice.

All students complete required institutional pharmacy-based clerkships, community pharmacy-based clerkships, inpatient direct-patient care clerkships, ambulatory patient care clerkships plus a series of elective clerkships in a variety of settings. Each of the clerkship experiences is supervised by one of the college’s faculty or a licensed professional selected by the Office of Experiential Learning.

The final year of the professional program has been approved by the Indiana Board of Pharmacy to satisfy the entire licensure requirement for practical experience in Indiana.

Because changes in state requirements for licensure can occur at any time, it is prudent for the candidate to check with the Indiana Board of Pharmacy or the Office of Experiential Learning in the College of Pharmacy for the requirements that apply.

Other states’ requirements vary greatly, however, with many states requiring 1,500 to 2,000 hours (one full year) of experience. States’ boards of pharmacy generally will accept the Purdue clerkship and apply those hours toward partial satisfaction of their experience requirements; some will accept the clerkship as satisfying the entire requirement. Students who desire licensure as pharmacists in states other than Indiana are urged to investigate the requirements for such licensure early in their pharmacy school careers.

Return to top


After graduation from a school or college of pharmacy and after completing the state-required practical experience requirements, a graduate must successfully complete a licensing examination given by the state licensing board, usually the state’s board of pharmacy. The license granted by a state entitles the pharmacist to practice pharmacy in that state only. A pharmacist may simultaneously hold licenses to practice in as many states as desired. License to practice pharmacy may be gained in other states by transfer from one state of licensure to another state by making application to the state and meeting its requirements. The requirements vary from state to state but commonly include successful completion of an examination in that state’s pharmacy law. The transfer does not cancel the original license.

A few states will not accept transfer within the first year of licensure in another state. In Indiana, the pharmacist’s license must be renewed on a biennial basis. To be eligible for license renewal in Indiana, a pharmacist must earn no fewer than 30 hours of acceptable continuing professional education credit during that biennium.

A pharmacist’s license to practice is a privilege and is subject to discipline by the state board of pharmacy for cause. Causes for discipline are clearly spelled out in Indiana statutes. Sanctions that the board of pharmacy may impose include reprimand, censure, probation (with conditions), suspension (with loss of the privilege with no right to practice for a period of time) and, in the most egregious cases, revocation (permanent loss of license with no right to reapply for a new license for a period of seven years). The board of pharmacy has broad discretionary powers in disciplinary matters.

Return to top