One of the most common question I receive from future pharmacy school students from all over the world is where they can earn an accelerated PharmD degree. This is generally a more rigorous type of PharmD program because students have to condense material from what normally takes 4 years into a 3 year period. You can imagine less breaks between semesters in order to cover more classes in less time. In the traditional model, students can be eligible to apply to pharmacy schools at least two years after high school when completing pre-requisites before even obtaining a bachelor’s degree. They may also apply to pharmacy schools if they already have a bachelor’s degree, but will have to complete the PharmD program in four years. Therefore, the traditional program can be as little as from six (at least 2 years of pre-requisite plus 4 years of pharmacy school), to as long as eight years (4 year bachelor’s degree plus 4 years of pharmacy school) of time spent after high school depending on whether you choose to apply before after meeting pre-requisites (at least 2 years) or after obtaining a bachelor’s degree (at least 4 years). If you graduate within six years after high school, the average person may start practicing as a licensed pharmacist at the age of 24, and at the age of 26 if entering pharmacy school directly after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Both 24 and 26 are relatively very young in the grand scheme of things and in life. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay of a pharmacist is $121,500 in the United States. That is not bad but most new pharmacists out of school could learn less due to lack of experience. The BLS reported the lowest 10% earned approximately $86,790. However, how much you earn also depends on what type of pharmacy career you’re entering. Inexperienced retail pharmacist can start at a pay more than other types of pharmacy careers such as hospital in case money is very important to you. For a graduate in their mid-twenties, this salary can provide a very good quality of life depending on where you live. For example, earning $86,790 may allow you to buy a decent car or home , and pay of your school loans in St. Louis, Missouri or Raleigh, North Carolina…but it may be difficult to save any of it if you live in San Francisco or New York City where the prices for goods, services, and homes are considerably higher, and your dollar may not take you much further (more about your paycheck will be talked about later on). Whatever you have after paying taxes and benefits (insurance, 401 deductions) is what you have leftover to pay for all of your expenses that include rent, mortgage, electricity bills, car, gas, auto insurance, groceries, traveling, eating out, car repairs, gifts, clothes, movies, etc. Not much huh?
Having said that, let’s get back to the discussion between the accelerated and traditional programs. Most of our emails are concerning what schools offer accelerated programs. You can check our list here. We update the list based on our awareness of such a program from notifications or feedback from the public; if you find one that isn’t listed or should be removed from our list, please let us know at: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us. From the inquiries we receive, it seems logical to think that most people want to graduate in a year or so less than the traditional programs. One can only assume, but I think the top reason one may consider this is as follows along with my Pros and Cons for the reason:
- They want to get on with life quicker which requires an income and earning a good living. They want to hurry up and enjoy their lives with their earnings by traveling, buying a house or car, or even helping themselves or family out of a financial problem (loans, mortgage, etc).
Pros: I think this may be the top reason why people want to finish early. This is similar to students who want to finish a bachelor’s degree in less than three years. Money is important, and people need money. I think if you’re in need of money quick so that you can pay off a loan or help a family member out, a year less in pharmacy school will get you started early. The extra year in pharmacy school may not save you too much money (or at all) in tuition costs, but it will save you on the interest on a school loan so that you can start paying it back sooner, and will save you the costs of living (room and board). If you have a spouse and kids, you’ll obviously benefit from graduating a year earlier and earning a paycheck so you can start putting bread on the table.
Cons: Outside of the need to graduate earlier for financial issues or helping out others, If you’re looking to start your life a year early for the sake of enjoying your life and traveling and spending, it may not be worth it in the long run because you’ll most likely never have that pharmacy school experience again where you can learn, network with other pharmacy colleagues and professors, and enjoy being a student without the struggles and stresses that come with life. Life outside of school is considerably harder and more stressful than being a student because of bills, family obligations, mortgages, finding babysitters for your kids, going to work every day for eight hours with maybe two weeks of vacation a year…and this for until you retire in your 60s (unless you win the lottery or receive a generous inheritance). The current retirement age is 67 according to the social security administration in order to receive full social security if you were born on 1960 or later. Assuming you begin work as a pharmacist at the age of 26, you would work for at least 41 years! What is an extra year of school compared to the next 41 years of labor? Is there really a difference between the ages of 26 or 27? Plus those years in an accelerated PharmD program may not be as easy and enjoyable considering your vacations may be shortened, the classes proceed quickly, and most of your time will be dedicated to studies. Unless you have financial issues, and you need to start working sooner to earn an income, I would recommend staying in a traditional pharmacy school program because being a student is a lot more fun, easier, and enjoyable than being a working pharmacist for the next 40+ years. Being a pharmacist isn’t easy…and 40+ years of it can be tough over time. More on what a pharmacist goes though day to day will be talked about in a later post. It also takes more effort to make friends outside of school compared to being in school. Because you work all day and everyday, your free time to build a network of friends becomes increasingly difficult, especially after you start a family due to the lack of time and energy. In school, you are surrounded by so many people all the time and almost every day, and you’re opportunity to make friends and network with others is a lot easier in a school environment. There are also other intangible benefits you may receive while staying in school longer such as participating in pharmacy organizations and other events which will equip you with information, education, and other opportunities.