A pharmacologist is a medical research scientist who studies new prescriptions in private pharmaceutical settings or in governmental agencies that evaluate the viability of new drugs. If you want to get into this career, you will face significant educational hurdles and will need certain qualities to perform well and enjoy the work.
Some front line jobs in pharmacology are available with degrees in science. However, two doctoral degree programs are common to becoming a pharmacologist -- Ph.D. and Pharm.D. Though you don't typically need a license to work in pharmacology, it often takes around four years to complete your advanced degree. Added to a bachelor's degree, often in science, it can take up to eight years of total education to qualify for a private or public career in this field.
Pharmacologists are scientists and researchers more than medical professionals. They simply research in a medically-related field. Background in math and science are essential to the positions. These skills help set you up for success in conducting lab-based research and recording and analyzing the results. Written and verbal communication skills are also important. Pharmacologists must take thorough notes on study findings for patent applications or in assessing drug effects, such as in a job with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Familiarity with medical lab equipment and tools is also helpful.
In private pharmaceutical companies, pharmacologists work with other scientists and researchers to evaluate chemical compounds and the effects of new medications. This process often involves animal research to observe the impact of the drugs on an animal or a particular part of the body. This research is used to gauge the effectiveness and safety of drugs before the company submits them to the FDA for evaluation. Detailed notes are prepared to support a patent application.
Drug Screening and Education
In other roles, the pharmacologist evaluates the viability and safety of a company's drug before it is presented to the marketplace. The FDA has pharmacologists who conduct testing used to make approval decisions on drugs. FDA evaluators have similar goals of gauging effects and safety. FDA pharmacologists must also note all possible side effects for patient warnings. You may also use your education and experience in pharmacology to teach courses in pharmacology programs.
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