Do you have a passion for healthcare coupled with solid IT and communication skills? If so, you might excel in a career as a pharmacy informaticist.
In this guide, we will explain what a pharmacy informaticist does, how much you could earn if you go into pharmacy informatics, and the steps to launching a career in this field.
What is Pharmacy Informatics?
To explain what a pharmacy informaticist is, let’s take a look at the definition from HIMSS:
“The scientific field that focuses on medication-related data and knowledge within the continuum of healthcare systems—including its acquisition, storage, analysis, use and dissemination—in the delivery of optimal medication-related patient care and health outcomes.”
ASHP provides an even simpler definition:
“Pharmacy informaticists interface information technology and medication use to improve safety, efficiency and patient care.”
The exact duties a pharmacy informaticist does depends on that person’s individual specialization. But here are some examples of common pharmacy informatics duties:
- Entering data on patients and their medications into computer systems.
- Tracking inventories of medications.
- Tracking how medications are being prescribed and used.
- Maintaining and improving the health information systems used by pharmacies.
- Analyzing the data input by other pharmacy informatics workers.
- Training other healthcare professionals to use the health information systems.
The work of pharmacy informaticistshelps to prevent errors, maintain and improve patient safety, and coordinate care.
As a pharmacy informaticist, you will have the satisfaction of knowing the work you are doing is making a difference both for patients and for your fellow healthcare workers.
How Much Can You Earn as a Pharmacy Informaticist?
To find out information about the pharmacy informaticist salary, we can have a look at the data provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The role of pharmacy informaticist falls within the category of medical records specialists. According to the BLS, the median annual wage for medical records specialists in May 2021 was $46,660.
The BLS also lists what the highest and lowest paid medical records specialists are making. The bottom 10% take home less than $29,430. The top percent are making over $74,200.
It appears that the pharmacy informatics specialization may in itself qualify you to be one of those top earners.
According to Glass Door, the average salary for a pharmacist informatics worker is $117,893, plus an additional $10,275 in the form of bonuses, profit sharing, and other extra benefits.
Are Pharmacy Informaticists in Demand?
The next thing you are probably wondering is how likely it is you will find employment as a pharmacy informaticist.
For insights into demand, we can also turn to the BLS, which provides job outlook data on the category of medical records specialists.
The BLS states that this field is growing at a rate of 7%. That covers the span of time between 2021 and 2031, and represents average growth.
How to Become a Pharmacy Informaticist
Now that you know some reasons why you might want to become a pharmacy informaticist, let’s talk about how you can get started in this career.
1. Qualify for a PharmD program.
To become a pharmacy informaticist, you are going to need a degree in pharmacy. Before you can get that, you need to qualify for a PharmD program. That is going to require a bachelor’s degree, preferable in pharmaceutical studies. It does not necessarily have to be, however; an IT degree may also be suitable.
That said, the PharmD program you wish to enter is going to have specific prerequisites. Make sure that the educational course you are choosing for your undergrad degree is going to allow you to complete them. That could entail taking a lot of highly specific electives if your major is something other than pharmaceutical studies.
After you have your finished earning your bachelor’s degree, you will have to take the PCAT, which stands for “Pharmacy College Admissions Test.” It will take you around three and a half hours.
If your scores are high enough and the admissions board at the school of your choice is satisfied with your academic performance to date, they may admit you into their PharmD program.
2. Earn a PharmD degree.
Now, you need to complete the PharmD program itself. This is where you will learn most of the specialized knowledge and skills needed to work in a pharmaceutical setting. This type of degree program typically spans four years.
What if there is a health informatics degree program available at the same school? Some institutions may make it easy for you to combine the two. Check into this option, as it will give you the most comprehensive possible education.
3. Finish your residency.
Next comes a step that may be a bit tricky, depending on the residency programs that are available at the time that you want to get started.
Ideally, you need to complete the following residency programs, each lasting a year:
- Postgraduate year 1 (PGY1)
- Postgraduate year 2 (PGY2)
Both of these residency programs are specific to working in a pharmaceutical niche. The second focuses on informatics.
The problem is that sometimes, you might not be able to locate a residency for an informaticist working in a pharmaceutical setting.
You are not necessarily stuck; some people do manage to launch their pharmaceutical informatics careers without two years of residencies.
That said, it may be challenging, and it might depend on having specialized skills others do not and a job opening that happens to cater to those skills.
For instance, maybe you earned an IT degree earlier in your education, and know programming languages that are in high demand which other candidates lack.
That edge might make you a competitive enough candidate to get started in a specific job role without the experience from the residencies.
4. Get your license and certifications.
Finally, it is time to apply for your license and certifications. Start by scheduling your NAPLEX, which stands for “North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam.” It takes six hours to complete.
You also will need to take the MPJE, which is the two-and-a-half-hour “Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam.” With passing scores on the MPJE and NAPLEX, you can get your license and start practicing in your field.
Certifications are optional after you get your license, but they can help you stand out when you are applying for jobs. So, consider applying for a few of those as well to improve your prospects.
Start Your Career in Pharmacy Informatics Today
Pharmacy informatics is a growing field that gives you an opportunity to earn a solid salary while using your technical abilities to improve care and safety in the pharmacy field.
Are you ready to embark on your journey toward becoming a pharmacy informaticist?