Getting into pharmacy school can be one of the most frustrating, exhausting, and if you get in, exhilarating experiences of your life. Applications, recommendations, clinical experience… all of these disparate pieces and more have to be expertly packaged to create the best possible case for yourself before the admissions committees.
And that’s not your only problem. You’ll have to decide whether to apply for a Pharm.D. a Ph.D., or an M.S. degree. You’ll need to research various target schools and make sure you have the minimum requirements. And even once you have them, competition for seats in the top pharmacy programs is tough. But there are tremendous payoffs for your efforts. Pharmacists are a crucial link in the health-care industry, working on everything from patient care to researching and developing new and improved drugs. The fact is, youll be helping patients in an immediately tangible way.
So where do you begin? How do you make yourself more competitive? Well, start by taking a business-likeapproach to pharmacy school admissions. Even with all the various options and programs, there still are basic, key elements to an application package. Doing a little homework can help you organize and build a stellar application package—one that gets you noticed and gets you in.
Let’s take a deeper look into the Pharmacy School Admissions Process.
Is Pharmacy School Right For You?
The decision to become a pharmacist is not one to be taken lightly. You’ll have to commit to a minimum of six years of university, you’ll have a heavy courseload, and once you graduate, you’ll literally be responsible for people’s lives. And you’ll most likely be taking on a considerable financial burden until you graduate.
On the other hand, pharmacy can be incredibly rewarding. If you go into clinical pharmacy, you’ll get to interact with a tremendous variety of people. You’ll be dealing with patients, colleagues, and other health professionals. You’ll be responsible for making sure your patients are getting the optimal drug treatment possible. And if you decide to go into research, you’ll be interacting with highly intelligent colleagues from a wide range of scientific fields. In either case, pharmacists tend to be both well-paid and well-respected—a rare combination.
To be effective and successful, pharmacists must have certain traits that help them with their position. First, and most crucial, they definitely need have the ability to pay attention to detail. Prescriptions can be mistaken, calculations might have crucial mistakes, and Mrs. Smith might be coming in for prescription refills just a little too often… these are just some of the details that you need to notice.
Judgment and dependability are essential for this job as well. Since you’ll have access to potentially dangerous substances, you must have high ethical standards and maintain reliable records. Finally, you’ll have to be knowledgeable about and keep up with the constant stream of new products and medications on the market.
So is it right for you? Ultimately, that’s a decision you have to make. Pharmacy school is a serious time and financial commitment. But if you have specific career goals and apply yourself, the payoff can be extraordinary
Prerequisites to Pharmacy School
With advances in science, technology, and medicine growing by leaps and bounds, it’s a great time to join this growing profession. Most pharmacy programs accept students for their Pharm.D. degree once they’ve completed at least 2 years of undergraduate study, but in reality, you’ll probably have to finish 3, or even have your bachelor’s degree before you can get in to most programs. There are some colleges, on the other hand, that accept students to their pre-pharmacy or pharmacy programs directly from high school.
The requirements you need vary from program to program, but there will obviously be common prerequisites throughout. Math, biology, physics, and chemistry are some of the basics you should be taking if you’re even thinking of applying. The fact is, you’ll probably need to take these courses to do well on the PCAT exam. This exam will be a critical part of your application package, and, since the PCAT covers biology, chemistry, and math, make sure you know the material before you take the test.
Why do you need the courses mentioned above for pharmacy? It’s really quite intuitive. A good pharmacist will need math to measure out prescriptions and calculate dosage strength for individuals of different height and weight, and might also need business math to manage his or her own pharmacy. Biology is necessary to know how drugs will react within the body, and to know what’s wrong in the first place! Chemistry and physics, meanwhile, are needed to understand the behavior of drugs, the ingredients included, and why they react differently under various conditions. Of course, these subjects will be given in pharmacy school itself, but you must understand the basics before you start.
There are some more courses that might be helpful before you start your degree program. Social science courses like English, sociology, psychology, and more can prove helpful in relating to your patients, your co-workers, and other health professionals that you’ll come in contact with throughout your career. In addition, your English classes will no doubt help you score higher on the verbal ability and reading comprehension sections of the PCAT! Doing well in these courses can help you stand out from the crowd of applicants and get into the school of your choice!
There are currently 130 pharmacy schools in the United States. Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (the PSAR), published every year by the Association of American of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), provides comprehensive information on all of these schools.
When it comes to pharmacy school admissions, “doing it by the book” refers to the PSAR. The information provided in this book comes from the schools themselves. The first part of the PSAR includes profiles of all the pharmacy schools in the U.S. The second section includes tables detailing applicant profiles, requirements, programs offered, and more. Every school profiled in the PSAR contains the following entries:
- General Information