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Pharmacology is the scientific study of drugs, including their physical and chemical compositions, cehmical reactions, side effects, and usefulness in treating disorders. The science is generally split into two main branches, research and clinical pharmacology, and there are many different specialized pharmacology jobs available in each branch. Most clinical pharmacologists work in hospitals, medical clinics, and pharmacies. Research pharmacology jobs can be found in private research institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and hospital laboratories. Many professionals from both disciplines choose to become university professors, teaching advanced courses in science and medicine.
Clinical pharmacologists might specialize in toxicology, kinetics, or drug interactions. Experts in kinetics investigate how drugs move through an organism's body. They often study the ways that the body dissolves and absorbs a certain type of chemical substance and how the organism responds. Toxicologists examine the negative effects that drugs or poisons can have on the body, and determine ways to reduce or reverse such effects. Other pharmacologists study drug interactions, determining how a certain medication is made more or less effective by natural bodily chemicals, environmental factors, or other drugs.
In research laboratories, scientists may concentrate on neuropharmacology, pharmacogenetics, biological science, experimental studies, or a number of other specialties. Neuropharmacologists study how various neurotransmitters and chemicals in the brain are affected by certain drugs, while pharmacogeneticists investigate how drugs work differently in different people. Some experts focus on biologically-based substances and their potential applications to health and medicine. Pharmacology jobs in experimental laboratories involve the research and development of new and better drugs. Scientists design experimental drugs and oversee clinical trials to determine their efficacy.
To attain most clinical pharmacology jobs, individuals must hold master's or doctoral degrees in either pharmacology or medicine. Obtaining pharmacology jobs in research typically requires people to have bachelor's degrees in a specific biological science, such as molecular biology or organic chemistry. Advanced research positions and teaching jobs often usually require candidates to receive doctorates in pharmacology or biological science. New clinical and research pharmacologists generally work as interns or assistants for six months to two years before practicing independently.
There is a growing demand for pharmacologists to conduct experimental research on drugs that may be helpful in treating complicated disorders, such as cancer and AIDS. New pharmacologists are trained to operate advanced testing equipment and apply computer programs to their research. As laboratory technology continues to advance, scientists and clinical pharmacologists are often able to conduct research, complete trials and produce helpful medications faster than ever before.
@KoiwiGal - You can definitely travel with a pharmacist job. In fact I think there are quite a few agencies that exist simply to place people in pharmacy jobs where they can travel for a few years. Most of them are within one country, but you can easily get your license to practice between states or in another country.
I have a friend who has managed to go a few places with his degree in pharmacology. He kind of fell into it when he didn't want to be a doctor, but he wouldn't change it now.
This seems like one of the few areas that it is fairly safe to specialize in now. There are so many careers where it is difficult to break into the industry, or where you get a degree and there doesn't seem to be a clear cut path to doing meaningful, well paid work.
I think a lot of the time people do a degree expecting to get a job out of it and it turns out to be a waste of money, because in a lot of jobs the contacts you have and the experience you've gotten over the years is more important.
It's all in who you know. But, nursing, pharmacist jobs, and engineering all seem to be relatively safe in terms of job security. You can probably travel overseas with this kind of qualification as well.
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