Category Archives: Pharmacy Schools

Dual Degree Program: MD and PharmD

 

 

 

 

 

The Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy currently offers a dual degree program for both the Doctor of Medicine (MD) and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) in addition to several other dual degree programs such as PharmD / PhD, PharmD / MPH and PharmD / MBA.  Although, many pharmacy schools offer dual degree programs, this may be one of the first to offer some sort of pathway for an MD in addition to a PharmD.  According to the website’s current description for the program, only “enrolled” PharmD students are eligible to apply; they may apply during the Fall of their second or third professional years (P2/P3).  Once accepted, they may enter medical school after successfully finishing their PharmD program.  This is important to note because one feature many people may look for in a dual degree program is the reduced time it would take to receive both degrees at once as opposed to applying and obtaining each degree separately.  As a result, there appears to be no advantage in saving time;  it seems one would have to finish both the MD and PharmD programs in the same length of time as it would have taken to finish the MD and PharmD separately assuming the applicant enrolls into the programs sequentially.

Now let’s review the time required to be a full-fledged MD/PharmD with a few examples:

Applicant A:  Two years of pre-professional studies + four years of professional PharmD program + four years of MD program + three to fives years of residency + year(s) fellowship (depending on specialty).

Total aggregate time spent obtaining both degrees and finishing residency after a high school diploma:  At least 13 years to 15 years or more (depending on fellowship/specialty).

Applicant B:  The second type of applicant would already have a bachelor’s degree which would have taken around four years to complete, and would have to apply to pharmacy school which would generally take another four years…plus four more years of medical school.  Applying to the MD / PharmD dual degree program would mean they would have to commit to at least 15 to 17 or more years of school and training after a high school  diploma before finishing residency, and even more if pursuing a fellowship/specialty.

Assuming the average age of a high school graduate is eighteen years of age, a person finishing a MD / PharmD program and residency would probably be around 31 to 33 years of age assuming no entry into a fellowship.

Such a person finishing years of rigorous schooling should be congratulated; it is a difficult task to accomplish even one professional degree.  But before one can bask in the glory of their dual titles, with the benefit of adding extra letters on their resumes and business cards along with their names, it would be prudent to review the pro’s and con’s of such a program, as each person’s life situation will vary.  Here are some factors to consider:

Pros:

Opportunities:  The dual title will surely grant more job opportunities…more so in leadership roles which may garner higher incomes.

Knowledge:  Someone with both an MD and PharmD would surely know a good deal about pharmacology and its applications in the clinical settings.

Prestige:  Having both degrees will draw prestige…as you may be part of a very limited pool of specialists holding both degrees.

Skip the MCATs:  No need to study for this tough exam if admitted into the program.  However, your grades, extra-curricular activities, leadership qualities, and other accomplishments and experience will probably be more scrutinized.

Cons:

Time horizon:  Having back-to-back degrees and training will require more time, which could affect your social life.  An eighteen year old will probably be in their mid-thirties before they can capture their full income potential.

Finances:  Staying in school longer while being financed by high interest loans could lead to an enormous amount of debt which may take years to pay back unless you come from wealth.  One would have to obtain a job after residency (or fellowship) that pays well enough to justify the time expended to earn both degrees.  Adding to these expenses for a typical mid-thirty year old something:  compounding interests on the loan, family expenses (e.g. wedding, children, mortgage, cars, etc).

Job placement:  A dual MD / PharmD graduate should probably pursue something related to both where both knowledge and skills could be best utilized…otherwise what would be the point in wasting all the time and money? This may narrow the job searches to teaching professions or medical research and drug companies.  Also, if accepting a position that could have been obtained with only one degree or the other (e.g. MD or PharmD), such as a pharmacist or as a general doctor, or even a doctor specializing in gastroenterology who may not need a PharmD, the cost-benefit for pursuing a dual-degree program with respect to time and money may not be worth it.  Why go to medical school if you’re going to end up working in a hospital as a pharmacist?  Or why pursue a fellowship in transplant surgery when you could without having a PharmD?

The above are only a few factors to consider for the future applicant.  Of course to each their own, as one’s preferences and dreams are different from the next.  Each person will need to evaluate in their own way on whether such a program with its costs and benefits fit their goals in life.

How To Get The Most Out Of Pharmacy School


If you could do it all over again…what would you do?

When asked this question, there is one recommendation many seasoned pharmacists agree on: to participate in more extracurricular activities such as clubs and organizations. Networking, socializing, making friends is important, and joining clubs, organizations, and participating in activities may be the easiest and preferred way to accomplish this.  This will be very important for the rest of your life, and perhaps in your career. In the real world, it is much more difficult to make the time to go out and socialize and make new friends, build new relationships after you are immersed in the cycle of life which includes getting married, finding a job, learning the new job, starting a family, and raising your children, etc. Having the time to hang out with your friends, or go out and make new ones will be difficult as you start getting older, and worrying about how to find a babysitter, what to cook, or who will pick up the kids from daycare. By the time your daily routine is over after managing your children, shopping for groceries, cooking and cleaning, you may be too tired to do anything else but to lay on your couch, and watch your television shows…and falling asleep. Your few years in pharmacy may seem overwhelming in the beginning, but it will fly by really quickly, and compared to all of the unexpected stresses you’ll encounter after pharmacy school, it will be a piece of cake. You may never see most of your classmates again, and despite the long hours studying for those tough exams, you’ll probably never have it as easy life compared to when you’re still in school. Therefore, aside from focusing solely on your studies, try to make an effort to smile and make new friends by participating in activities, clubs, organizations, and attending other social events. There will be many opportunities in pharmacy school, and taking advantage of it will be to your benefit, especially since you’re paying a lot of tuition for it.

There are many organizations and activities available for pharmacy students such joining an organization focused on the student pharmacist, a state pharmacist, national hospital pharmacist, health professional, professional pharmacy fraternity/sorority, religion-based pharmacy, community service associations or organizations, pharmacy school government, special pharmacy school committees, and so on. Pharmacy schools may offer various social events such as dance nights, charity auctions, volunteering opportunities, social events with other health professional schools (medical, nursing, dental), events to a baseball game, or even a college sporting event. In fact, this is something you could inquire about during your visit to the pharmacy school(s) from senior pharmacy students, to know what programs or organizations are offered at the school, and which clubs they recommend joining. Networking through these events and organizations is also another great way to get job referrals, and meet new employers, and learn about the trade. Remember, you’ll never be this young again to enjoy the student life, so it is a good idea to make the most out of your short time in school. People skills and the understanding of how to socialize and network will probably be one of the most important assets you possess as you move up the career ladder. Who knows…you may even find your future wife or husband this way, and it is probably a lot easier to meet a potential new spouse in school compared to dating websites and apps, or in life beyond school where your time outside of work is limited. Therefore, make the most of your pharmacy school experience. Study hard…but make sure you also build new relationships.

Strategies to manage pharmacy school workload

The first year of pharmacy school could be very overwhelming at first. Remember, this isn’t the typical undergraduate program. This is a professional graduate program, and the career path to becoming an legitimate pharmacist in this country. With course after course, the first year students may be inundated with class projects, group activities, club/organization activities, class assignments, and even early exams depending on the professor. Many students may even have part-time jobs or internships in addition to their school work. So how does one manage their time in a way that they could best be in a position to succeed? Well, first of all you could be assured that you are not alone, and that all of your peers are going through the same pressures and struggles as anyone else. Upperclassmen have also gone through the same course loads and I’m sure are doing fine. Here are some tips or strategies to better manage your time.

For those that have part-time jobs, you may want to consider adjusting your work hours to allow enough time for you to succeed in your coursework or have time to rest. There are obviously many of you that know how to do everything well even with much school work and long work hours. But for those that need time to study and partake in group activities at school, may want to consider looking at their work hours if it is getting in the way of scoring a good grade on an exam or a project. You could always ask to readjust your hours once you are able to manage the rigors of pharmacy school life.

Set a schedule and time to preview and review your study materials in order to best prepare for classes and to avoid ‘cramming’ for an exam at the last minute. You may have more than four or five classes at a time, so set some time within each day, or days within a week to study each of the subjects. Previewing the material before the lecture will allow quicker understanding of the material when it is presented by the lecturer. Reviewing the material will allow better retention of the material.

For those that participate in so many activities that it is almost impossible to have enough allotted time to study or spend time on projects may want to consider whether the benefits of partaking in those activities outweigh the risks of performing substandard on an exam or a project.

If the struggles of pharmacy school life are affecting you emotionally or mentally, you should take some time to relax or even schedule an appointment with your school mentor or counselor who could offer suggestions on how to cope with those struggles.

For those that need help with understanding the complex material presented in class, perhaps you should join a study group or seek tutoring services on those subjects. Study groups are a great way to meet and get to know your peers, and who could also offer study tips that you may not be aware of. Many schools also offer tutoring centers, matching you with upperclassmen who are well versed in the subject matter. If these services are offered, taking advantage of them are great bonus for you and your success.

After a few weeks or maybe months, most people will become well adjusted to the often hectic life of the pharmacy school student. As you learn more and gain experience, you may develop your own system to gauge when you should study, how much time you need to study, as well as when and how much you are able to participate in extracurricular activities and set some time to relax and rest.

Pharmacy Schools Spotlight: University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy

The University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy is a relatively new program that began in 2007. It has been listed in the U.S. News and World Report pharmacy school rankings recently, and looks to be a very promising new institution in training the next generation of pharmacists on the Pacific islands. The ‘Walkscore’ of 28 should be taken as a grain of salt as the score usually reflects on the proximity of commercial businesses (restaurants, entertainment, coffee shops, etc), not a marker of the competitiveness of the program, or taking into account the beauty of the scenery – which should be given a 100. The pharmacy school is located on a beautiful island nearby the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, the Hilo International Airport, and surrounded by several Forest Reserves. The island itself is also the easternmost of the Hawaiian islands. Needless to say, the location is the vacation and honeymoon destination for many; an opportunity to pursue a respectable profession on an island of paradise may sound appealing to many. However, one should expect to study hard in this new pharmacy school. The PharmD program offers a traditional four year program in the pharmaceutical sciences, and according to their website, is looking forward to moving into a new state-of-the-art permanent building in the future.

To learn more about the program:
University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy
200 W. Kawili St., Hilo, HI 96720-4091
Tel: (808) 933-2909

Preparation for Pharmacy School Interviews

So you got an interview for pharmacy school – congratulations! Obviously, the pharmacy school have found your qualifications on paper impressive enough to grant you an interview, and want to know more about you face to face. Interviews could cause worry and anxiety in any potential pharmacy school candidate, but preparation is key to performing well and impressing the interviewers. Depending on the pharmacy school, interviewers could be selected from those members who may be part of the admissions committee, administrative staff, faculty members, or even current pharmacy students. Since interviewers could all have biases based on their own experiences and personality, and also different perspectives on what they deem fit in a student to be accepted into the program, the pharmacy school candidate will need to prepare for anything that could be asked, in addition to understanding the basic principles for interview preparation, not too much different from a job interview.

Appearances say many things, and first impressions are very important. It is customary to dress appropriately in business attire and looking presentable. Posture before, during, and after the interview, especially when seated on a chair during the interview process, is crucial. Never slouch when seated as this gives off bad vibes and an air of carelessness or arrogance. Greeting the interviewer with a nice handshake and a genuine smile is a given. Remember, your interview may not be just the face to face with the interviewers; it is the entire process from when you walk on to the pharmacy school campus and until you leave. You never know who may be observing you; from the volunteers who guide you through the process, to the administrative personnel in the room where you are seated and waiting to be interviewed, and to those who are serving breakfast or lunch if food is provided throughout the day. If there is a social event in place on the agenda, remember to be personable and social…not sitting in the back or in the corner alone by yourself. Interviewers want to see how you get along with your peers, as well as the conversations involved. Be personable, friendly, and sharp. You probably want to veer away from polarizing conversation topics.

As for the dreaded interview itself, one cannot possibly know exactly what will be asked. Remember to research the school well to understand the program, the structure of the curriculum, and the school’s history; this could probably be found on the school’s website. Those that really want to be a pharmacist, and really know the profession well from experience as a pharmacy technician or volunteer shouldn’t fret too much if asked questions about the work or lifestyle of a pharmacist. For those that do not know the profession well, maybe it is time to get some exposure to the life of a pharmacy employee before committing four years of schooling and tuition expenditures to validate if this is what you really want. There are some general questions that are common during interviews that one could prepare for, just as one would for medical school or a PhD program. Interviewers probably want to know what kind of person you are, why you want to be a pharmacist, your future plans, and about your life experiences; they will ask you questions that will better gauge your fit for their program. Most pharmacy students have great scores on paper, and they want to know if there is more to a candidate than a bookworm lifestyle. Think of what sets one person apart from others? Think of experiences a candidate holds prior to applying to pharmacy school, leadership qualities, service in many organizations, etc.

Practicing general questions in front of a mirror or your friends and family could assist you in familiarizing yourself with the interview process. This could allow you to see the facial expressions that your interviewers will look at, and whether you speak confidently or mumble words when answering questions in front of friends or family. Think of questions that you would ask a pharmacy student. Some questions could be:

Why do you want to be a pharmacist?
What kind of a pharmacist do you want to be and why (hospital, retail, industry, specialty)?
What experiences do you have working in pharmacy?
Why do you want to bo to this pharmacy school compared to others?
If there is one thing in your life you would like to do over, what would it be?
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years?
What is the last book you read? Your favorite book, movie, TV show?
What do you do for fun, hobbies?
What leadership experiences do you have?
What would you do in this _______ situation ?
What do you know about this pharmacy school program and what it offers?
What do you offer? Why should we accept you?

Just as in many things in life and work, practice and preparation, amiable personality, and conveying a genuine desire to be a pharmacist could take the candidate one step further onto the road to pharmacy school.