Category Archives: PharmD Preparation

PharmCAS: Pharmacy School Application Process

What is PharmCAS?

PharmCAS is an application that allows students interested in PharmD Programs to complete a single application sent to multiple pharmacy schools for those schools that utilize the PharmCAS application system.  You may have to check the requirements of your school to ensure they use PharmCAS, in addition to other needs the school may require. Applicants for the course must meet all the requirements in order to complete the application. Some of these requirements may include the following:

  • Completing the appropriate pre-requisites required to apply for pharmacy school.
  • Earning the minimum required cumulative grade point average.
  • Having attended an accredited two or four year institution.
  • Meeting all requirements for the course equivalences.

How do you use PharmCAS?

To use the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS), create your PharmCAS account. Read and understand all the PharmCAS instructions before applying for your desired PharmD Program. Go through the online step-to-step checklist to see what’s needed.

The PharmCAS office requires you to submit all your official transcripts to consider your application. Find the PharmCAS Transcript Request Form in the PharmCAS website. It allows you to arrange all your transcripts and upload them before the deadline. If you don’t want your application processing delayed, submit all your transcripts in time.

Schools that use PharmCAS are available in the directory. You may want to choose a school that’s close to your residence. Choose a pharmacy school that suits your choice of environment, courses offered and other school-specific requirements. Some schools have additional requirements, besides the basic ones for every PharmCAS applicant. For instance, some require you to present TOEFL and PCAT test scores to PharmCAS directly. When choosing your pharmacy school, check out for all the additional requirements and submit all the requirements as outlined on their websites.

PharmCAS fees and deadlines

  • Fees:

Once you’ve submitted your PharmCAS application, you need to complete payments. PharmCAS accepts the following payment options:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Money order

Cash, personal checks and money orders that cannot be drawn from U.S banks are rejected.

Payments differ depending on the number of schools you want to consider your PharmCAS application. As the number of schools increases, the fee payable increases as enlisted on the fee schedule. It’s prudent to send your payments in time. PharmCAS does not process applications that have not cleared payments.

If you want to withdraw your application, keep in mind that you’ll not be refunded the application fee. All application fees are non-refundable.

  • Deadlines:

You must submit your application before the deadlines as stipulated by each pharmacy school. In case you miss your school’s deadline, contact your pharmacy degree program for an extension. PharmCAS does not extend deadlines for applicants. It only processes late applications when notified by the school’s degree program.

How do I attend interview if my application is successful?

Interview dates are scheduled and reported differently according to each school’s degree program. Visit the school directory to find the interview dates notification. If you have issues with application denial, contact your pharmD program. PharmCAS is not involved in setting criteria for accepting or rejecting applications.

Possible reasons why your application was rejected

If you have followed all the instructions when applying for your Pharm.D. Program, you’ll probably be picked for an interview. Here are common mistakes that could make your application ineligible:

  • Failing to make the necessary payments.
  • Attempting to create a new application while the current is under review.
  • When plagiarism has been detected in your personal statement.
  • Submitting the wrong essay in your application.
  • If caught having violated the Code of Conduct violation policy.
  • Failing to submit one or more test scores, if required so by your pharmacy school.
  • Failing to contact your school degree program after missing a deadline.

To learn more or keep up with changes about the PharmCAS application, please visit their website at:  http://www.pharmcas.org/.

PCAT Courses or Self-Study?

When preparing for the PCATs, otherwise known as the pharmacy college admission tests, students may weigh the benefits of taking a pharmacy standardized review courses offered from several institutions with the risks of investing a considerable amount of money. PCATs are required by most accredited pharmacy schools in the United States, and are an important gauge for pharmacy schools of the student’s knowledge of fundamental science principles needed to succeed in the profession. Therefore, potential PharmD candidates should take time to plan out their PCAT study schedule prior to taking the exam in order to achieve a score acceptable for admission committees. Therefore, students will have do to decide whether they plan on studying on their own with the cumulative study materials and notes acquired while taking pre-pharmacy courses, purchasing PCAT review books, or registering for PCAT preparatory courses offered by various institutions; of course, they have the option to do all of the above.

Self-study or independent study in preparation for the PCATs is obviously an economically agreeable approach as this requires little investment financially with the exception of purchasing PCAT prep books. Still, books are usually a lot cheaper than registering for a comprehensive review course. Students could take many different approaches for preparing independent of a review course. Students who are very disciplined could set a schedule of PCAT study time well in advance of the actual PCAT exam. Consistency of maintaining the study time is important; students may forget the material covered previously after long gaps between study sessions. Students could also use study notes or course notes taken from prerequisite courses to review material that could be found on the PCATs. They may choose to look over material that they may not be particularly strong in, and decide then to focus more time in those subjects. Many colleges and universities may have pre-pharmacy clubs or organizations for students to join. These clubs may provide information about the PCATs, helpful study tips, and other relevant helpful information linked to pharmacy schools. These groups are also a good way to network with other potential pharmacy school candidates, and possibly even pharmacy student or pharmacist mentors. Pre-pharmacy clubs may also allow students to collaborate within PCAT prep study groups.

PCAT review books are available from various publishers, and can be purchased online or within bookstores. Although review books may not contain the entirety of information covered in prerequisite courses due to its condensed size, they organize study material in an organized and nice format, especially for those that do not or have not kept study materials. It is a good idea to use review books in addition to looking back on courses takens from prerequisite courses on subjects the student may not be particularly strong in.
PCAT review books with many practice exams are something to look for when purchasing a PCAT book.

Signing up for preparatory courses may be expensive, but for some people they are a better fit for their style of learning. Many students prefer an instructor reviewing the fine points of PCAT preparation and need direction on how to study and what to study. They may also prefer the classroom format which allows for direct face to face discussion and immediate question and answers. It is also a good idea for the student to review their own materials from courses taken previously for subjects that they may be help in. The PCAT review instructor may be available for additional help.

Hiring a tutor can be very expensive. However, tutors will provide the students with one-on-one assistance and could probably better pinpoint the individual student’s weaknesses more so than a classroom instructor.

Some pharmacy schools may offer review courses as well as information for potential pharmacy school candidates. This is a valuable bonus for those that live near pharmacy schools. Regardless of all the aforementioned study methods, it is the individual student’s responsibility to study hard, study consistently, and study well in advance in order to better prepare themselves for the PCAT exam.

Pharmacist Skills

Many people ask what it takes to be a good pharmacist.  Pharmacists who love their profession, and are passionate about serving customers/patients whether it is within the community setting or a hospital, and have the drive to keep evolving their skill set and learn new things may have the “right stuff.”  Similar to many other jobs, if one dislikes/detests their job and dreads going to work every day, then the person might not be the most motivated to excel in their specialty, and less likely to be a good representative of their chosen occupation for other future career seekers.  Passion, enjoyment, and motivation are few of the key ingredients needed for a long  and successful career as a pharmacist regardless of the type of pharmacy setting.

Pharmacists also need to proficient in certain academic subjects that are part of their everyday usage at the workplace.  Subjects such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, and physiology heavily influence the study of pharmacy and its applications.  Mathematics is highly emphasized in pharmacy school, and is essential for patient safety as pharmacists will need to be accurate with duties such as pharmaceutical recipe calculations, measuring medication dosages, mixing the correct amount of ingredients, and dispensing the correct quantity of medications.  Chemistry, biology, and physiology enables a pharmacist to understand the medication effects on the human body and vice versa.  The complexities that involve taking multiple medications and its interactions with each other and the human body are courses that are usually part of the pharmacy school curriculum.

Good pharmacists should be able to communicate with people well as pharmacists are usually the first point of contact or support for questions relating to medications for patients, doctors, and nurses.  Being able to educate the public and answer questions are an essential responsibility and opportunity for pharmacists to represent their field as the drug information specialists.  Pharmacists educate patients on the correct way to take the medications, side effects to expect, cost, and encouraging them to always take the medication as prescribed (compliance).  Pharmacists are also present to answer drug information questions for doctors and nurses regarding proper dosages, preparation instructions, drug availability, and alternative options if the drugs prescribed are not available.

Good attitude is recommended in the workplace.  The job of a pharmacist could get stressful with hoards of orders, issues with incorrectly written orders, insurance claim issues, telephone calls, talking to customers, etc.  Having the right composure, patience, and attitude will go far in this field.  No one likes approaching grumpy pharmacists and doing business with them, especially when there are other pharmacies around the corner to transfer prescriptions to.  Good customer service with a smile will be remembered by customers, however irascible some may be.

Pharmacists who are always on the “cutting edge” will always be a step ahead of their peers.  In order to stay ahead of the pack, pharmacists should join or register as members with their local or national pharmacy organizations where they will have opportunities to attend interesting continuing education seminars, network with other practicing pharmacists, and be eligible for other educational opportunities not available to the public.  Also, subscribing to pharmacist publications and periodicals will provide the pharmacist with consistently new educational material delivered to the home or workplace.

There are many solutions and steps to becoming a solid pharmacist.  Strong proficiencies in the basic sciences and mathematics will provide a sound foundation for the future pharmacist.  The passion to serve the public, and the love of the profession will enable most pharmacists to motivate themselves to improve their skills and knowledge each day for the betterment of serving the community.

Applying to Pharmacy School

For those of you who are planning to get ready for the application process of PharmD programs, this may be a time to get started with the planning and preparations. There are many items to consider, and making sure that you dot all of you i’s and t’s is essential for a smooth application experience. The first thing to consider is whether you have the prerequisites to apply to the pharmacy schools of your choice such as general course requirements. You would want to obtain a list of all the pharmacy schools that you desire to go to or are interested in. Just peruse through our website or directory to search by city or state. You could also read this article about the different types of programs that are available to you. After you have narrowed down your list, check each program’s website as to the requirements needed such as prerequisite courses, PCATs, documentation and transcript records, recommendation letters, application fees, PharmCas registrations, personal statements or essays, etc. Not all programs have the same requirements, so doing your due diligence is essential. Make a note of all the deadlines to submit all application materials, as well as registering for the PCATs if required by your selected pharmacy schools. A checklist of all requirements for each school will assist you to avoid any steps that are missing. Even contacting the programs via email or phone may answer some specific questions that you may have. Contacting those that will recommend you to the pharmacy schools, and attest to your character and performance is something to take care of immediately. After you begin the application process by registering and submitting all required fees, and sending all documentation, you would definitely want to prepare to study for your PCATs or the pharmacy college admission tests. Studying for these examinations may require some time depending on the individual and experience with the material from previous courses taken. Purchasing exam preparation guides or taking preparation courses could better help prepare those that need a structured guide or plan. Many of these courses have ‘mock’ tests for pharmacy school candidates to adapt to the testing environment before the actual test. Although preparatory courses may be expensive, it is up to the individual and their study methods to know whether a course is needed. Many people feel a preparation book is sufficient, and take the practice exams on their own that are provided in the study guide. Some pharmacy schools even provide PCAT preparation sessions, so this may be an excellent resource to take up if offered. You could read more about the PCATs here. After all of the requirements of the application process are met for each of the schools, and all information and documentation have been sent, the only remaining items may be to take the PCAT exam itself, as well as making sure the prerequisite courses will have been successfully completed before enrollment. Getting a good score on the PCATs is essential in order to better compete for a seat in the next PharmD class. A well written personal statement with no grammatical or spelling errors is also needed. Thus begins the start of the PharmD application process. There are more things to consider such as verifying whether your application is complete, and nothing has been omitted for each of the pharmacy schools being applied to, as well as having the PCAT scores sent to each school. If offered an interview, this is good news as an interview is usually an indicator that the school is interested in your qualities. Preparing for the interview process is another matter, a bridge that could be crossed once given an interview offer.

Is Pharmacy School Hard?

Students who may be interested or are preparing to enter pharmacy school may be asking the question, “is pharmacy school hard?” I guess this all depends on the work ethics and aptitude of each individual. The PharmD curriculum is typically designed to a be four year program: three years of didactic teaching and one year of clerkships (rotations). Most often, when they ask this question, they are referring to the didactic portions. Each PharmD program may be different, some programs could be tougher than others. The level of difficulty for each PharmD program is generally based on the following factors: the student’s work ethic, difficulty of pharmacy course instructors, and the PharmD program itself.

Getting into a PharmD program requires a student to have the ‘right’ stuff. Students who are accepted obviously have the aptitude and X-factor to successfully complete the PharmD curriculum in the eyes of their admissions committee. Therefore, the only ingredient needed is a consistent work ethic to study hard in order to meet the passing requirements each year in the program.

Many people know from experience that some instructors or teachers are tougher than others. The curriculum designed by the instructor may be difficult for some, maybe due to tougher examinations, shorter intervals between exams, or projects that may be added on to their courses. Some students may have a more difficult time in understanding how an instructor teaches a course, and some instructors may be poor teachers.

PharmD programs may vary in their level of difficulty. This usually, but not always, mirrors the level of difficulty with the PharmD programs admission process. Nationally ranked universities such as Harvard and Yale are obviously tougher on admissions than many other universities or colleges. Although PharmD programs are ranked, and may not necessarily have the same variance in admission acceptance rates as national college rankings, many PharmD programs may still differ in level of difficulty.

In summary, there are many variables to know whether a pharmacy school is hard or not. Probably the most important factor depends on the student. The work ethic of the student is extremely important to know whether a program may be difficult or not. Of course, some students may appear ‘smarter’ than others by not having to work as hard and still do well in their courses. However, most if not all students, whether born with ‘genius’ genes or not, have to work hard every year in any PharmD program.