What's an Rph? Differences with PharmD

What is an RPh? RPh stands for Registered Pharmacist. Practicing pharmacists are medical professionals who have completed extensive training, education, and testing. Pharmacists must get a doctor of pharmacy degree in order to practice, which allows them to sit for national and state licensure examinations.

Pharmacists apply for and pass tests to acquire their license to practice as registered pharmacists with the RPh designation after finishing education, internships, and any other prerequisites.


An RPh is a licensed pharmacist who focuses on the safety and effective use of medications.

What is an RPh?

A pharmacist gets the professional title of registered pharmacist (RPh) after completing national and state pharmacy board tests. To practice today, all pharmacists must first become registered pharmacists, regardless of their educational background, and they must also hold a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD or Professional Doctorate Degree) degree.

Pharmacists who are licensed to practice work in the following areas:

  • Laboratories for research.
  • Military and government facilities.
  • Hospital pharmacies.
  • Clinics.
  • Retail pharmacies.

What does an RPh do?

An RPh is a pharmacist who specializes in the safe and effective administration of medicines. They do assessments, write prescriptions, and counsel patients using their knowledge of compounded medications, pharmacological actions and interactions, and correct usage. The goal of patient counseling is to:

  • Maximize the medication's effectiveness.
  • Reduce the medication's adverse effects as much as possible.
  • Other medications should be avoided whenever possible.
  • Educate patients on how to properly store and use medications.

Registered pharmacists generally do the following over the course of their day:

  • Vaccinations should be administered.
  • Examine the medication for side effects.
  • Make sure your customers are compatible (allergies).
  • Customers should be informed about their medicines.
  • Pharmacy technicians are under your supervision.
  • Conduct health examinations.
  • Collaboration with insurance companies.


Is RPh different from a PharmD?

The degree acquired via pharmacy school is a PharmD, and the license to practice is an RPh. A doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) is a professional doctoral degree in pharmacy that takes many years to complete. The registered pharmacist (RPh) credential indicates that the person has completed national and state board exams and been awarded a license to practice pharmacy.

Previously, anybody with a bachelor's or master's degree in a qualifying field can sit for the board examinations, but the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) designated PharmD as the entry-level degree in 2000. To practice pharmacy, all pharmacists must register, regardless of their educational background. The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) or any licensing test that preceded the NAPLEX, as well as multi-state or state examinations, is required for a pharmacist to be licensed.

Some pharmacists employ both designations, while others just use one set of letters since the other implies the first. The letters that follow a pharmacist's name are entirely at the pharmacist's discretion.

Examples of differences

Susan Smith, RPh, PharmD

Mike Dore, PharmD

Bryan Shore, RPh

Steps to earn an RPh

Your education is the first step in obtaining a pharmacy license. If this is a job you're interested in, you might start by becoming a pharmacy technician before pursuing licensure. Pharmacists must meet specific educational, training, and experience criteria in order to be registered.

When it comes time to apply, previous experience as a pharmacy technician or in a similar field might be beneficial.

To become a pharmacist, you must first complete the following steps.


Select a dual-degree program

Choose a program that allows you to get both a bachelor's and a master's degree. In a dual-degree program, you obtain your bachelor's degree while also earning your doctorate in pharmacy (a professional degree that acts as a prerequisite for the practice of pharmacy). It's possible that this course will take six to seven years to finish.

Earn a doctorate-only program

Obtain a doctoral degree by enrolling in a doctoral-only program.This program is open to people with a bachelor's degree in chemistry or biology and takes three to four years to finish.

Pass exams

Pass all of your exams. Pass all of the entrance examinations, which include subjects like biological processes and quantitative thinking. Passing grades are determined by individual schools.

Find an internship

Look for an internship. Complete an internship in your state, following the state's regulations, which vary by area.

Take and pass licensing exams

Take and pass the following licensure exams. After you've finished your degree, you'll need to take the two licensure examinations. You'll take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) as well as the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE) or a state-specific exam.

Register to practice as a pharmacist

According to your state's requirements, you must register and acquire your license.

Tips for passing a licensing exam

To become a pharmacist, you must first complete the following steps: According to your state's requirements, you must register and acquire your license.

Study early

The primary test for pharmacists, known as NAPLEX, was developed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). The test consists of 250 multiple-choice and computer-based questions. With planned breaks, the NAPLEX takes six hours to complete. The test is divided into three sections:

  • Drug treatment administration.
  • Medication preparation and administration in a safe manner.
  • Informing people about drugs.

The MPJE is a 120-question multi-state test that takes two and a half hours to complete and is a pass or fail exam.

Develop a study schedule

Allow plenty of time for studying and start at least eight weeks, but no fewer than four weeks, before the exam. Prior knowledge and expertise can allow for a shorter study period (three to six weeks), but it's always a good idea to prepare ahead of time.

You can create a study timetable that breaks down study time into particular sections. You can also experiment with different study methods and locate a study buddy with whom you can try quizzing each other. Look for applications or online tools that allow you to create study timetables and reminders to help you stay on track.

Take practice tests

Take the pre-NAPLEX, an online exam to help you study and familiarize yourself with the subject, by going to NAPLEX. You'll have 140 minutes to answer 100 questions gathered from previous examinations. A report is generated to assist you in identifying areas that require more research.

Learn state requirements

Background checks and verification of internship or postgraduate experience are often required by some states and must be submitted with the application for licensing. Candidates in some states can be required to take extra examinations in specified areas.

States can also offer study aids or practice exams, however, this varies by state. Because the laws and regulations for identifying and handling restricted drugs differ from state to state, familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of your practice state. Also, make sure you're familiar with your state's:

  • Labeling regulations for prescriptions.
  • Forms are used, and there are record-keeping obligations.
  • Requirements or criteria for patient counseling.
  • Requirements for maintaining your driver's license.

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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