Is a Pharmacist a Doctor? [Here’s What You Don’t Know]

A pharmacist is not the same as a doctor and in this article, I will discuss everything you need to know about the two professing and most especially their similarities and differences.

The debate of whether a pharmacist is a doctor or not has been going on for a long, long time.

At the center of this argument is whether a pharmacy should also double as an advanced practice provider, paving a path to full practice authority as doctors/ physicians.

The results are far from convincing, but that hasn’t stopped many people from jumping into the discussion.

To answer this question and clarify every issue surrounding if a pharmacist is a doctor, we’ll first have to dive into the meaning behind both words and proceed from there.

So read on to learn more.

Who is a Pharmacist?

Pharmacists are more like chemists who prepare medicines from the medications dispensed by doctors.

As per their education and training, pharmacists can’t provide medical advice or diagnose patients. They generally assist in filling prescriptions and advise clients about the medications they give out.

Pharmacists may also provide counseling about other aspects of health care and wellness including nutrition or diet, exercise, vitamins and supplements, disease prevention, and risk reduction strategies for chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

Who is a Doctor?

A doctor is a medical professional who diagnoses and treats illnesses and injuries. Doctors are qualified to practice medicine after completing medical school, undertaking a residency program, and passing numerous exams.

A doctor’s job is to help people feel better and stay healthy. They can work in a wide range of specialties such as family medicine, neurology, internal medicine, psychiatry, and pediatrics.

In addition to treating patients, doctors also conduct research and develop new treatments for diseases such as cancer or heart disease.

What are the Differences Between a Pharmacist and a Doctor?

Pharmacists are often confused with doctors, although there are some key differences. Now that we have defined the two professions and made clear a pharmacist is not a doctor, let’s see on a broader level the difference between them.

I will be differentiating the two based on the following points;

  • Course of study
  • Diagnosing or prescribing medicines
  • Prescribing and dispensing medicines
  • Conducting tests on patients to diagnose illnesses

1. Course of Study

A pharmacist takes a shorter course of study while a doctor takes a longer course of study. Pharmacists complete three to four years of undergraduate education and then four academic years in the professional program, followed by one year of internship.

Doctors on the other hand must go through four years of undergraduate education and then four years in medical school, followed by three or more years of residency training.

2. Diagnosing or Prescribing Medicines

A pharmacist does not deal with diagnosing or prescribing medicines. A pharmacist’s role is limited to dispensing medications and advising patients on their use.

Doctors diagnose illnesses by conducting tests on patients, such as blood work or imaging scans, then prescribe medications based on those results.

Pharmacists may also order blood tests for patients but do not interpret test results or prescribe medication without doctor approval. But pharmacists may administer injections or immunizations if they are trained on how to do so properly.

3. Conducting Tests on Patients to Diagnose Illnesses

A doctor conducts tests on patients to diagnose illnesses, whereas a pharmacist is restricted from directly examining patients.

Doctors are also licensed to carry out surgery on patients, but pharmacists cannot perform surgery on humans nor prescribe drugs that have not been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

4. Prescribing and Dispensing Medicines

While doctors are qualified to give advice on their own or prescribe medicines, pharmacists are trained to dispense medicine only when instructed.

So, a doctor prescribes medicines, and a pharmacist helps the doctor in dispensing medicine to the patient.

Due to this, pharmacists follow the direction of doctors most time. They provide advice on how to use medicines safely and effectively, as well as provide information on how to improve your health by making lifestyle changes.

What are the Similarities Between a Pharmacist and a Doctor?

Both pharmacists and doctors have earned degrees from accredited colleges or universities.

Pharmacists have completed four years of college at a minimum before beginning their undergraduate studies in pharmacy school; doctors have completed four years of college before beginning medical school.

Therefore, they both require four years of postgraduate training to become board-certified in their specialties.

Both professions require licensure in most states, though there may be some differences depending on where you live.

In addition, both professions must be certified by the American Board of Pharmacy Specialties (ABPS) if they wish to practice as specialists in pharmacy or medicine.

Lastly, both pharmacists and doctors practice in healthcare centers like hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies.

Both work with patients to treat their medical conditions. They may also prescribe medications to their patients as part of their treatment plans, which they must monitor closely.

Is a pharmacist a Doctor: FAQs

How many years does it take to become a doctor?

To become a doctor, you must go through a four-year undergraduate study, followed by another four years in medical school and then three to seven years in a residency program.

So, in total, it takes between 10 to 14 years to become a fully licensed doctor.

How many years does it take to become a pharmacist?

With pre-professional (prerequisite) courses for three to four years at the undergraduate level, followed by four academic years in the professional program, earning a Pharm. D. normally requires eight years of undergraduate study.

Which higher, a pharmacist or a doctor?

One is not higher than the other. Even though pharmacists often follow instructions from doctors, they both have their respective roles to play in saving lives and making sure everyone lives a healthy life.

Do doctors earn more than pharmacists?

Yes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacists’ median annual salary is $128,090, while the median annual salary of doctors is $213,270. 

Is a pharmacist a Doctor: Conclusion

Finally, Is a pharmacist a doctor? No, they are both medical professions but have different roles in the field.

Pharmacists are licensed to sell and distribute medicines and advice patients on the management of their condition. 

Doctors, on the other hand, are medical professionals who specialize in treating patients with either physical or psychological conditions.

They rely on years of study to achieve their medical degrees and then successfully pass a registration exam before they can practice medicine.

However, both pharmacists and doctors are expected to uphold ethical standards when dealing with their clients, including confidentiality requirements such as keeping private information confidential unless permission is given for its release.

I hope you found this article helpful. You should check out what you can do with a Healthcare Administration Degree and also Health Science Degree.

Thanks for reading.