Category Archives: PharmD Programs

How to Use PharmD Program’s Unique Directory

As some may already know, our website not only takes contributions from real-life pharmacists and their perspectives, opinions, advice about working as a pharmacist, it also includes a unique pharmacy school directory unlike those offered from other educational websites.  The directory lists available pharmacy school and PharmD programs, along with scores on how easy your walk or commute will be to commercial or landmark locations.  The higher the score, the more walkable it is to the closest stores, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.  This directory may serve as an important tool when deciding how well you will adjust to the school’s location based on its convenience to areas where you could hang out, shop, tour, or just have fun.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use this website more effectively.  First, click on the “Pharmacy Schools” link at the top of the webpage:

 

 

Next, search for a school that you may be interested in.  Here, we will look at a school located in a pretty cool city:  Chicago.

 

 

 

Next, click on the link to the school to arrive at the program’s page:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will notice three separate scores for (1) Walking, (2) Public Transportation, and (3) Biking.  Again, the higher the scores, the easy it may be to walk , to find public transportation, and to bike to notable landmarks or merchants.  These scores may serve you well if you will not be having a car, or if you do not live near the school.  Evidently, the higher the scores, the less likely you will need to worry about getting around town, or finding your own transportation.  If you click on any of the scores, a new webpage will open up in your browser with a map of the school, and more details regarding the relative times using different transportation methods:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clicking the map, will open up the map with a flagged list of area merchants such as coffee shops, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, parks, and many other places.  Needless to say, most may prefer to attend a dream school that offers nearby places of interest where a drive or a walk to buy groceries, or grab a cup of coffee would not expected to be very difficult.

 

 

 

 

When clicking on a specific category, the navigation window on the left will change to a list of businesses or landmarks within the category:

 

 

 

 

These scores on the website should obviously be used with some caution, and only for information purposes only.  You should not base your decision on these scores, and it would be recommended to apply to the school that you desire based on what the school can offer you, whether you can get in and afford it, and whether it would be a good match for you.   The scores offer information about ease of walkability, or how convenient it would be to walk to the nearest merchant.  However, it does not provide any indications on the favorability or satisfaction the location may bring to anyone.  Some areas with high walking or transportation scores could also resemble congested, urban areas with lots of pollution and noise, and higher cost of living.  On the flip-side, schools with lower walking and transit scores may offer an area that is peaceful, quiet, and less-congested.  Take for example the University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Pharmacy which currently has a relatively lower score.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, the school is in Hawaii!  How would you not want to live there if you desire paradise, warm weather, water sports, and the beach?  To each their own, as some people prefer being around crowds, and others may enjoy living in a place that offers a serene and quiet environment.  Therefore, enjoy using the scores for researching information about the location of your schools…or for your own amusement.

Accelerated PharmD or Traditional PharmD?

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:  info@pharmdprograms.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:

  1.  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.

 

 

How Hard Is It To Get Into Pharmacy School?

Each year it seems, getting into pharmacy school becomes more more difficult, with competition becoming so fierce that there appear to be more applicants than there are slots available at pharmacy schools around the country. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, there are now 132 colleges in the U.S. which are fully accredited to offer PharmD degrees to students pursuing a career in the field. 

However, these 132 institutions are short of being able to handle the high number of applicants each year, and that has caused schools to take steps to manage the increased demand. Some new schools have opened, while others have increased capacity at their existing campuses, or have opened satellite schools to accommodate the huge influx of interested students.

This increasing demand isn’t so surprising when you consider that the average annual salary of a pharmacist in the US is reported in excess of $120,000, with salaries on the rise in every region of the United States, according to the most recent salary survey of the position.

However, one factor acting as a something of a break on student interest in pharmacy school is the known debt burden of the average student graduate, which often averages out in the neighborhood of $100,000, depending on the school of attendance. Fortunately, for those who seriously pursue the profession, earnings in excess of that figure are possible annually, so is may be possible student debt can be managed.

Typical requirements for entry into Pharmacy School

While there are variations among specific colleges in the US regarding the requirements for entry into pharmacy school, these requirements tend to be fairly similar across most learning institutions. The first of these requirements is that a student is expected to have completed pre-health studies in high school or college. Other requirements described below are representative of what you can expect from most medical schools offering a PharmD degree.

  • PCAT score – The Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) is a pre-requisite for many of the courses offered at pharmacy school, and a score above 60% will be necessary for entry into any pharmacy school, although a score of 80% or better is often necessary to be competitive with other applicants
  • GPA score – A GPA score of 3.0 or 3.1 is usually the minimum requirement for entry into pharmacy school, but on average, a score of around 3.5 or higher is often necessary for acceptance over other applicants
  • Applicant interview – Very often, applicants to pharmacy school must undergo an interview with the school of their choice, in order to demonstrate communication skills as well as observational, behavioral, analytical, and problem-solving skills
  • Extra-curricular experience – applicants to pharmacy school are often required to have skills necessary for writing research papers, such as gathering information and analyzing it. It is also usually a requirement that applicants accrue a certain number of hours each year with volunteer experience in the community, as a demonstration of interest and commitment to helping others. Leadership experience can be shown through involvement with clubs, organizations, and various groupings in the community and in school, and this is a quality which is highly valued by pharmacy school officials
  • Prerequisite courses – Most often, pharmacy school applicants are required to have taken courses from the areas of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics. The specific courses taken must be discussed with whichever pharmacy school is being applied to, although most favor some kind of biology and chemistry courses.

What it all means

What all this means to prospective students of pharmacy schools is that competition is undoubtedly something to consider, even with new schools opening and others expanding their programs. To have the best chance of being accepted at one of these schools, new students should strive for maximum scores on required evaluations and pre-req courses, and should demonstrate real interest in the extra-curricular activities valued by schools.

Although significant debt may be accrued by those who do complete the full program at an accredited school, the potential for relieving that debt quickly is decent, considering that soon after graduation very respectable salaries are achievable if one lands a job.

Accelerated PharmD Programs

Many potential PharmD candidates may be interested or desire to finish a degree in fewer years than a typical or traditional four-year curriculum. Those that do not have much time to endure a four-year PharmD program could consider a pharmacy school that offers a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in three years. One could expect that an expedited curriculum to include a program that entails many courses, more semesters per year, and also speedy teaching with the goal to cover as much material as possible within four years. Both accelerated three-year and traditional four-year PharmD programs have some pro’s and con’s associated with each.

Earning a degree in less than four years have the obvious benefits of beginning a career early and earning a year’s salary ahead of time. It will also save a year’s time needed to begin one’s life and take care of personal obligations and responsibilities. Some of the disadvantages could include the quality of teaching that may be done too briskly, and possibile omission of much material that would otherwise have been covered within a traditional four-year curriculum. It may also be harder to retain the material covered in the short period of time for retention needed for later examinations or even board examinations. The years during an accelerated program could be rigorous due to the need to finish much material early, and may lead to less time to perform the things in life needed outside of schoolwork. It may also be more competitive to enroll in an accelerated program because of the many applicants who prefer to finish a PharmD program early and begin earning an income.

The pro’s of a traditional four-year PharmD program include the benefits of undergoing a steady-paced and not rushed teaching curriculum. For those that are not in a rush to graduate, or do not have a need to earn a salary and begin their career ahead of time could enjoy the lifestyle benefits of a college student. Networking with graduate colleagues, attending many social events, programs, college functions, and even college sporting events, as well as having more time for the things outside of school may aid in the quality of life during the four years. Some of the con’s of a four-year program are obvious. Four years is a long time. For those who have dependents and need to earn income early, they would have to wait an additional year before competing for a pharmacist position and earn a pharmacist’s salary.

Accelerated pharmacy schools may differ in the time needed to finish. Some may or may not offer programs that accept exceptional students out of high school to include a five-year program. More information about accelerated pharmacy schools could be found by contacting the pharmacy schools that you are interested in and checking to see if they do offer or are expected to offer an accelerated pharmacy school. The best way to do the research of schools that offer these special programs are by emailing them or calling them for the latest current information.

Types of PharmD Programs

PharmD programs vary across the country, and therefore it would be wise for the student to do their due diligence in researching the programs that are available for the schools that they want to apply to. Many potential candidates are confused and wonder what differences exist between pharmacy schools and what opportunities are available. From the information available on the internet and on pharmacy school websites, there exist many diverse types of programs for the future pharmacist. Below are the different curriculums offered from many of these schools.

Traditional 2+4 PharmD Program or 4-Year PharmD Program: Most students are familiar with this format of a PharmD program offered from many pharmacy schools. Students who choose this route complete the required prerequisites (usually a two-year full time course load) before enrolling in the pharmacy school. Of course, those with an undergraduate degree who have already taken the prerequisites could also apply to a pharmacy school.

6-year program after graduation from high school: Some pharmacy schools have PharmD programs which allow exceptional students to apply directly to the pharmacy school from their high school without having to take the prerequisite courses as an undergraduate before applying. This guarantees the student of receiving a PharmD upon successful completion of all required PharmD courses throughout their six years. The first two years are most likely general courses similar to the prerequisite courses taken before enrolling in a traditional PharmD program. Students may or may not have to take the pharmacy college admission tests (PCATs) in these situations (check with the institution).

2+2 PharmD Program: Few pharmacy schools have a different format of the traditional 4-year PharmD program. Whereas most pharmacy schools have three years of in-classroom and laboratory teaching plus one year of experiential educations, the 2+2 PharmD programs have two years of in-class and laboratory teaching and two years of experiential education. This may prepare students who need or prefer more hands on training in the path to becoming a pharmacist.

3-year Accelerated PharmD Program: Many students want to expedite their schooling. Four years is lengthy commitment and may be too long for some people. Those that feel they could handle the rigors of a speedy program could apply to a 3-year accelerated PharmD program (click here for more info).

Dual-Degree PharmD Program: PharmD candidates may be interested in other areas in addition to pharmacy. Dual-degree PharmD programs allow students to learn and obtain both a PharmD degree coupled with another degree that suit their interests. These interests could include paths to a PhD, a Masters of Science degree (MS), or a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). These programs obviously require a disciplined and dedicated student to enroll in a combined program that may require more time and financial investment to complete.

Externship PharmD Program: Before a PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy degree) was established, pharmacists had to obtain a BS (Bachelor of Science) degree in pharmacy and meet certain minimal state board specific apprenticeship hours in order to practice as a pharmacist. Therefore many pharmacists who obtained their degrees and license(s) in the past still have a BS degree instead of a PharmD. Those with BS degrees could obtain their PharmDs by enrolling in a PharmD externship program. These programs are usually a year long and require more clinical practice and training.