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Course Description

Pharmacy

Studying Pharmacy in Germany

An article by Florian Schumann. Cooperation from: Gabriele Meister

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That is what it's about

Pharmacy students learn how drugs are made, how they work, how to make them and what risks users face. Students learn how the human organism works and what makes it sick. It is also about how to present medicines in such a way that they are taken as reliably as possible.

With a degree in pharmacy, you can work not only in pharmacies, but also in the pharmaceutical industry or in drug testing laboratories, or you can go into research. "There are many quality assurance positions in the industry," says Bernd Clement, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of Kiel and chairman of the Pharmaceutical Conference. "There are good opportunities in pharmacies, because there is a shortage of pharmacists in the profession."

This is how the course runs

The standard period of study is eight semesters plus a practical year. Until the First State Examination after the fourth semester, students learn the basics of natural sciences, especially chemistry and biology. Additionally, the curriculum also includes pharmaceutical analytics, pharmaceutical biology and pharmaceutical technology. For the first time, students learn the composition of ointments, creams and suppositories in the field of drug-based teaching and also produce them themselves.

Later in the degree course, the main focus is on the development and effect of drugs. The students deepen their knowledge in the five subject areas of pharmaceutics: Pharmaceutical/medicinal chemistry, pharmaceutical biology, pharmaceutical technology, pharmacology/toxicology and clinical pharmaceutics. During the semester break there are a total of eight weeks of internships, of which at least four weeks are in a pharmacy.

The second state examination is followed by a practical year. It includes six months or more in a pharmacy, the rest of the time can be spent in industry, hospitals, universities or with "Pharmacists without Borders", for example. The third state examination follows. Then, graduates can apply for a licence to be a pharmacist. The Corona pandemic has made it difficult for students, Clement says: Instead of doing hands-on work in the lab themselves, they could only watch online how to conduct experiments. "However, their degree course has not generally been delayed as a result."

Typical questions raised within the subject

  • How does a drug work?
  • When do antibiotics help?
  • What drugs occur naturally?
  • What problems arise when antibodies are used as drugs?
  • What dosage form is most appropriate for a particular drug?
  • What drugs can be combined?
  • When do drugs enter the bloodstream?

The subject suits you,...

... you are interested in natural sciences and would like to combine this with a healing profession. Good knowledge of this helps students get off to a good start, even though lectures like "Chemistry for pharmacists" are offered at the beginning to refresh knowledge from school.

Don't be disappointed if there are no medical issues covered at the beginning: In the first semesters, the basics are established, and later students focus on medications and the treatment of patients. To work in the lab, you must have stamina and be skilled. "Stirring ointments is a bit like cooking: Not everyone can make chocolate mousse, even if everyone has the same recipe in front of them," says Clement. You often must repeat experiments before they work. Almost 70 percent of the students are women, more than in dentistry and medicine.

Is there a numerus clausus?

Pharmacy is subject to nationwide admission restrictions. Most recently, the entrance restriction was in the one grade level range. Recently, it has become possible to apply for pharmacy and medicine at the same time, which tends to increase the demand for pharmacy spots.