The world of education has seen a remarkable transformation with the advent of online learning platforms. Students and professionals from various fields are now able to access high-quality education and certifications from the comfort of their homes. Pharmacy, a field deeply rooted in science and healthcare, is no exception to this trend. In this article, we will explore the possibilities of online pharmacy education, including the best online courses, the feasibility of learning pharmacy online, and the certifications that can help you excel in the pharmaceutical industry.
Whether you’re a practicing pharmacist or considering training to be one, you can access many free pharmacy courses online.
Some of the more basic courses don’t offer any sort of credit, although others provide continuing education credit for licensed pharmacists.
While some courses require you to register for a free account or join a professional association, the courses themselves don’t cost a thing.
Best Free Online Pharmacy Courses
Read on for details about some of the best free online pharmacy courses, many of which also provide continuing education credit.
The learning platform Alison offers at least nine popular pharmacy courses that will teach you about the pharmaceutical industry.
These courses, all of which are free of charge, include:
- Pharmacy Assistant and Technician
- Pharmacy Assistant
- Exam Preparation for PTCB Certification–Pharmacy Technician (CPhT)
- Diploma in Pharmacy Technician
- Community and Institutional Pharmacy
- Pharmacotherapy: Nervous, Sensory, and Genitourinary Systems
- Introduction to Pharmacy Practice
- Basics of Nurse Prescribing
- Understanding Controlled Drug Delivery Devices
Most of these courses can be completed in just a few hours, while diploma courses typically require up to 10 hours of coursework.
While certificates are free on the Alison platform, most of these courses are not approved to provide continuing education (CE) credit.
2. American Pharmacists Association
The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has an extensive library of free continuing education courses available on its website.
You have to register as a member of APhA to gain access to these courses. However, the courses themselves are free.
Courses offered include:
- June 2020 ACIP Immunization Update (one CE hour)
- New Technologies in Influenza Vaccines (one CE hour)
- APhA Quick Quiz: Systemic Racism (0.5 CE hours)
- Adult and Adolescent Immunization Schedules (one CE hour)
All of these courses are accredited and approved for continuing education credit for pharmacists and pharmacy techs.
3. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHSP) has several free CE courses available on its website.
While all of these courses are available to ASHSP members, some are available for free to non-members as well.
CE courses that are free to non-members include:
- AMA/ASHSP Pharmacogenomics Virtual Summit Series: Summit #5: Implementation
- Clinical Decision-Making in Prevention and Management of Clostridioides difficile Infection
- JAK Inhibitors and the Changing Landscape of Atopic Dermatitis and Alopecia Areata Management
- Predicting the Unpredictable: Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape of Immunotherapy and Immune-Related Adverse Event Management
Some of the courses offered on the ASHSP website do not have CE credit associated with them, so read the description carefully.
4. Institute for Safe Medication Practices
The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) offers free webinars that include CE credit for completion.
One such webinar, Top Medication Errors Reported to ISMP in 2020, is approved for 1.25 CE hours for pharmacists and pharmacy techs.
Check the Consulting and Education tab on the ISMP website regularly so you’ll know when new webinars are added.
You don’t have to register or have a membership to watch the webinar. Take the test after completion to be awarded your CE credit.
5. Pharmacy Times
Pharmacy Times has a CE channel on its website with both live and on-demand CE activities, most of which offer one hour of credit.
While on-demand CE activities are usually free, some live activities do have a fee or require travel.
Programs available include:
- The Treatment Landscape and a Review of Approved DOAC Agents
- Introduction to Anticoagulation and the Appropriate Patient
- Empowering Pharmacists to Improve Care for Patients with Myelofibrosis
- Updates and Insights in Managing Anti-Androgen Therapies in Prostate Cancer
You do have to register and create a free account with Pharmacy Times to access these programs and redeem CE credit.
ProCE offers both free and paid CE programs, with more than 400 free courses available.
You do have to sign up for a free ProCE account to access these programs and get CE credit.
Free CE programs include:
- The Role of Pharmacists in Optimizing Treatment for Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- The Value of Effective Patient-Provider Communication When It Comes to PrEP Persistence: A Patient’s Perspective
- Contemporary Use of PARP Inhibitors in Advanced Ovarian Cancer
- Treatment of Skin and Soft-Tissue Infections
ProCE allows you to filter results by content format, credit type, specialty, and topic so you can always find the CE course you need.
7. University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut’s School of Pharmacy offers accredited, peer-reviewed CE content for pharmacists and pharmacy techs.
Some of their content is free, while other programs require payment of a fee. You can filter on the website for free content.
Free CE courses available include:
- Venus and Mars: Helping Women AND Men with Osteoporosis
- Managing COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects
- Immune Mechanisms in Cancer Therapy
- The Mediterranean Diet’s Effect on Health
- Pet Allergies
The university also offers a free, downloadable transcript of course content so you can review it whenever you want.
Is it possible to learn pharmacy online?
The first question that often comes to mind is whether it’s possible to learn pharmacy online. Pharmacy is a complex field that involves a deep understanding of pharmacology, drug interactions, patient care, and the healthcare system. Traditionally, it has been taught through rigorous classroom instruction and hands-on training in laboratories and pharmacies. However, the digital age has opened up new opportunities for remote learning.
Online pharmacy courses have become increasingly popular, with many universities and institutions offering accredited programs. These programs cover a wide range of topics, from the basic principles of pharmacology to clinical pharmacy and pharmaceutical management. They typically use a combination of video lectures, online assignments, and interactive discussion forums to engage students.
One key advantage of online learning is flexibility. Students can access course materials at their convenience, making it easier to balance their studies with work or other responsibilities. Additionally, the online format often allows for self-paced learning, accommodating a variety of learning styles.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that pharmacy is a hands-on profession, and some aspects of it may be challenging to learn online. For example, gaining experience in compounding medications or interacting with patients may require in-person practice. Therefore, while it’s possible to learn the theoretical aspects of pharmacy online, it may be necessary to supplement your education with practical experiences gained through internships or on-campus lab sessions.
Which online course is best for pharmacy?
If you’ve decided to pursue pharmacy education online, you’ll want to know which courses are the best. The choice of the right program largely depends on your career goals, budget, and the specific area of pharmacy that interests you. Here are some reputable online pharmacy programs to consider:
1. University of Florida – Online Pharm.D. Program
This is a fully accredited Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program that allows students to complete the didactic portion of their pharmacy education online. Students must complete experiential training through affiliated pharmacies.
2. University of North Carolina – Online Master of Pharmaceutical Sciences
This program is designed for professionals looking to advance their knowledge in the pharmaceutical industry. It covers various aspects of drug development, regulatory affairs, and pharmaceutical marketing.
3. Coursera – Online Pharmacy Courses
Coursera offers a variety of pharmacy-related courses and specializations, some of which are provided by renowned institutions like the University of London and the University of California, Irvine. These courses are often more affordable and flexible than traditional degree programs.
4. edX – MicroMasters in Pharmaceutical Management
edX offers a MicroMasters program in Pharmaceutical Management that provides a comprehensive understanding of the pharmaceutical industry, including topics like drug development, marketing, and healthcare compliance.
When choosing an online pharmacy course, ensure it is accredited and recognized in your region. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) in the United States is a reputable accreditation agency for pharmacy programs.
Which certification is best for the pharmaceutical industry?
The pharmaceutical industry is vast and diverse, offering numerous career opportunities beyond traditional pharmacy practice. Whether you’re interested in research and development, regulatory affairs, quality control, or pharmaceutical marketing, obtaining the right certification can significantly enhance your career prospects. Some of the best certifications for the pharmaceutical industry include:
1. Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ)
This certification is ideal for individuals interested in quality control and regulatory affairs within the pharmaceutical industry. It demonstrates your expertise in improving healthcare quality and safety.
2. Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC)
Obtaining a RAC certification from the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) can be invaluable for those seeking careers in regulatory affairs, ensuring that products meet global compliance standards.
3. Clinical Research Professional Certification
If you aspire to work in clinical research, certifications such as the Certified Clinical Research Professional (CCRP) or Certified Clinical Research Coordinator (CCRC) can enhance your credibility and job opportunities.
4. Project Management Professional (PMP)
For pharmaceutical project managers, the PMP certification is a valuable asset, demonstrating your skills in leading and managing complex projects in drug development.
Is pharmacy a medical course?
Pharmacy is often associated with the medical field, but it is not a medical course in the traditional sense. Instead, pharmacy is a healthcare profession that focuses on the science and practice of medication management. Pharmacists play a crucial role in ensuring the safe and effective use of medications by patients.
Pharmacy education typically covers a wide range of subjects, including pharmacology, pharmaceutical chemistry, therapeutics, drug interactions, and healthcare systems. Pharmacists are experts in understanding how drugs work, their side effects, and how to optimize treatment plans for patients. They work in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, community pharmacies, research institutions, and the pharmaceutical industry.
FAQs About Free Online Pharmacy Courses and Continuing Education
Keep reading if you want answers to some of the top questions about free online pharmacy courses and continuing education.
Is Free Continuing Education Legit?
Absolutely. There are plenty of professional associations and pharmacy schools that offer free continuing education.
Just make sure the programs you access are accredited and approved by your licensing body and you should be fine.
How Do I Redeem Credit for Free Continuing Education Courses?
Typically, you’ll take a short quiz at the end of the CE course to confirm that you attended and paid attention to the course.
When you pass the quiz, you’ll be given a code with further instructions on how to redeem your credit.
Can I Get CE Credit for Free Pharmacy Courses Online?
Some courses offer free CE credit and others don’t. The course will state up front if CE credit is available for free.
Be careful, because some providers allow you to audit a course for free, but will then charge a fee if you want to redeem CE credit.