Choosing Pharmacy as a Career | General Statistics | Preparing for a Career in Pharmacy | The Admissions Process | Sample Undergraduate Program | Relevant Websites and Resources | Frequently Asked Questions |
Pharmacists are health professionals that are committed to public service. Their job is to serve patients and other health professionals in assuring appropriate use of medications. Responsibilities include interpretation and review of prescription orders, medication record screening and review, and accurate dispensing of medication. Some pharmacists may also purchase and sell hundreds of health-related items, or assist physicians in drug therapy decisions and purchase of all medicines used by the facility. Pharmacists also act as educators in the proper use of drugs for both the public and health practitioners. A pharmacist is trained to understand the physical and chemical properties of drugs and the way they behave in the human body.
Fast Facts (PDF)
Choosing Pharmacy as a Career
The goal of pharmaceutical care is to provide medication services to patients that will cure a disease, reduce or eliminate symptoms, slow or arrest the progression of the disease, prevent the disease, or assist in diagnosing the disease. Pharmacists are professionals committed to the achievement of positive intended outcomes from medication use to improve patients' quality of life.
To be a pharmacist, one must have excellent interpersonal and communication skills and be dedicated to life-long learning. One must also have the ability to read and understand publications in biology, medicine, chemistry, and pharmacy. Pharmacists assume responsibility for human life, and therefore, must have organizational and management skills that provide accuracy, orderliness, and cleanliness. Because pharmacists are entrusted with the storage and distribution of dangerous and habit-forming drugs, their ethics must be unquestionable.
There are many reasons students choose pharmacy as a career:
- Demand for well-qualified pharmacists will continue to rise: Career opportunities are available in community and hospital pharmacies, the military, in pharmaceutical research and manufacturing firms, nursing homes, public service agencies and in colleges and universities.
- Excellent income: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, half of all pharmacists made between $75,720 and $94,850 a year (in 2004).
- Increasing number of females in the profession: The number of women in the profession has been increasing steadily and it is projected the by 2020, 64% of all pharmacists will be female.
- Employment will remain stable in future: Employment growth is centered in chain store expansion, in ambulatory care centers, and in nontraditional practice areas.
To date, there are currently 230,000 licensed pharmacists in the country. Most pharmacists (60%) work in community pharmacies. It is estimated that Americans make over five billion trips a year to pharmacies, and pharmacists get more than two billion inquiries a year from their patients. Pharmacists work with healthy and sick individuals and are increasing their role in the "wellness" movement through counseling and education. Through advances in technology, pharmacists now have more time to educate patients and maintain and monitor patient records.
Pharmacists can also combine their expertise with business by taking on managerial positions in chain pharmacy practices. Pharmacists can follow career paths at the district, regional and corporate levels, and take part in marketing operations, legal affairs, third party programs, and computerization and pharmacy affairs.
With the expansion and changes in health care, pharmacists are also needed in large and small hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, neighborhood health centers and health maintenance organizations. Hospital pharmacy practice includes a number of highly specialized areas, such as drug and poison information, intravenous therapy, nuclear pharmacy, adult medicine, pediatrics, oncology, ambulatory care and psychiatry. About 22% of registered pharmacists work in hospitals and nursing homes.
Additional employment opportunities for pharmacists are by the U.S. Public Health Service, the Armed Forces, the Department of Veteran Affairs, pharmaceutical research, pharmaceutical administration and academics.
As of 2007, there are 100 colleges and schools of pharmacy in the U.S. and in Puerto Rico recognized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Ohio has five pharmacy schools: The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, NEOUCOM, Ohio Northern University, and the University of Toledo. An additional pharmacy school is projected to open at Cedarville University in 2009. Pharmacy school admission statistics can be found at the following links:
- National Statistics - COMING SOON
- Ohio Statistics - COMING SOON
For more information on pharmacy school admission statistics, please research the annual publication "Pharmacy School Admission Requirements" (PSAR) offered online on the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) website at www.aacp.org.
Preparing for a Career in Pharmacy
Does it matter what you major in if you want to pursue pharmacy school? While the answer is "no", the majority of pharmacy students majored in chemistry or biology. Undergraduate course work should include chemistry, biological and physical sciences, English or speech communications, social and behavioral sciences and the humanities. Pharmacy prerequisites do vary by school so it is important for student to be familiar with each individual school they are interested in and keep in contact with the Pre-Health Advisor. All prerequisites should be completed by the end of the fall term prior to enrollment.
All pharmacy colleges operate under one of three plans:
* Due to the high number of applications, many pharmacy institutions give admissions preference to students who have previously earned a bachelor's degree or completed the course prerequisites within the same university.
- At least two years of college education followed by four academic years of professional study
- At least two years of college followed by three calendar years of professional study
- An integrated curriculum for high school students who successfully complete the first 2-years of pre-professional study and are guaranteed admission into the professional pharmacy program
Students successfully completing pharmacy school will be awarded the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). Students must graduate from an accredited Doctor of Pharmacy degree institution in order to be eligible to take the licensure examination of a state board of pharmacy and practice pharmacy in the U.S.
The Admissions Process
Factors Evaluated by Admission Committees:
- Academic Record: the single most important factor in admissions decisions. Committees will evaluate cumulative GPA (average accepted = 3.5) as well as science GPA (average accepted = 3.4), courses completed, academic rigor, and trends in performance. Sometimes class rank (top, middle or near the bottom of the class) is considered, as well as employment and extracurricular activity participation.
- Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT): required or highly recommended by most pharmacy schools. This national exam is administered four times a year (June, August, October, January) and measures verbal and quantitative ability, reading comprehension, and biology and chemistry knowledge. Each pharmacy college/school designates an appropriate examination time(s) and students should visit with the Pre-Health Advisor for additional knowledge of pharmacy school admissions policies
- Evaluation by Recommendation Letters and Applicant Interviews: many pharmacy schools will require evaluation letters from particular individuals, and as of 2007, all pharmacy schools require competitive applicants to visit the campus for an in-person interview.
- Residency Status: Some U.S. pharmacy institutions give preference to in-state (resident) students. Private pharmacy institutions generally offer a greater number of seats for out-of-state and foreign applicants as compared to state-supported, public institutions.
Sample Undergraduate Program
- B.S. Chemistry/pre-pharm - LINK COMING SOON
- B.S. Biology/pre-pharm - LINK COMING SOON
Relevant Websites and Resources
- Pharmacy School Admissions Requirements, sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, provides a complete listing of the 100 pharmacy schools and their application processes. This book can be found online at www.aacp.org.
- PharmCAS application system www.pharmcas.org
- Career Information Specific to a Particular Practice Setting: American Pharmacists Association. www.aphanet.org
- American Society of Health System Pharmacists www.ashp.org
- National Association of Chain Drug Stores www.nacds.org
- National Community Pharmacists Association www.ncpanet.org
- American Society of Consultant Pharmacists www.ascp.com
- National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (licensing information) www.nabp.net
- Program Accreditation Information www.acpe-accredit.org
- www.ExploreHealthCareers.org Sponsored by the American Dental Education Association, it provides information about all health-related occupations.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I apply to pharmacy school?
Application deadlines to pharmacy schools vary and it is important for the applicant to be familiar with each pharmacy school they are interested in. In addition, all applicants should visit the Pre-Health Advisor for assistance. Most application deadlines for pharmacy schools will fall between October 1st and February 1st.
How do I go about applying to pharmacy school?
Almost half of all pharmacy degree programs in the U.S. participate in the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) for admission. Using PharmCAS, applicants complete a single application and submit one set of official transcripts (from each college/university attended) and references to apply to multiple PharmD programs. Many pharmacy schools will also require the applicant to send a supplemental application and fee directly to the institution. Sometimes these deadlines are the same as the PharmCAS deadlines, but usually they are due at a later date. Students must complete all PharmCAS and supplemental requirements before their application will be processed and review. Visit the PharmCAS website (www.pharmcas.org) or see the Pre-Health Advisor for more information.
What is an acceptable PCAT score?
Each pharmacy school is different and enrollment statistics from previous years can generally be found on the programs website. The Pharmacy School Admissions Guide or the Pre-Health Advisor can always be used for assistance and guidance. Applicants are encouraged to be familiar with the format and the subject content of the test before sitting for the test.
Are sample tests or study materials available for the PCAT?
Students also purchase study materials and/or courses to help prepare for the PCAT. Please see the Pre-Health Advisor for literature regarding these materials and courses. It is important to remember that to do well on the PCAT, a considerable amount of time (several weeks to months) should be reserved for studying material on a daily basis.
For more information about the PCAT, visit the website www.pcatweb.info
How many letters of evaluation are required for pharmacy school?
Schools may require applicants to submit 1-3 letters of recommendation from particular individuals (e.g., pharmacist, professor, advisor). Some pharmacy schools require health professions advisors and evaluators to use a school-specific evaluation. Letters of evaluation are submitted electronically through PharmCAS or mailed directly to the application system or school. School-specific information can be found at www.pharmcas.org/docs/ReqTypebySchool.pdf
What is the pharmacy school interview like?
Only applicants that are seriously being considered for matriculation are generally invited for an interview. Applicants with direct exposure or extensive research in pharmacy will be better prepared to respond to questions. Applicants will be rated on communications skills, professionalism, knowledge of the profession, critical thinking skills, and motivation to pursue a career in pharmacy.
For assistance in preparing for the interviewing process, please contact the Pre-Health Advisor or the Career Services office to schedule a mock interview.
What types of extracurricular activities and work experience should I have in order to be a competitive applicant?
- Community service that demonstrates a commitment to helping others and/or increasing awareness of health issues
- Activities that demonstrate your organizational and leadership skills and professional disposition and potential
- Volunteer or paid experience working with patients in a pharmacy or health-related profession is strongly recommended.
"Quality and persistence are far more important than quantity"
When will I find out if I am accepted into pharmacy school?
Pharmacy schools are different when it comes to notifying an applicant of acceptance. It is best to visit the individual program's website, refer to the Pharmacy School Admissions Requirements guide, or visit the Pre-Health Advisor.
Are there any joint degree programs provided with pharmacy?
Some individuals want to pursue an additional degree on top of their PharmD. Some examples of additional degrees are:
- PharmD/DVM: careers working with animals and drug therapy/medications
- PharmD/PhD: careers in academics or pharmaceutical research
- PharmD/MBA: careers in pharmacy administration
- PharmD/MPH: careers in public health (bioterrorism, antibiotic resistance)
Does Wright State have a pre-pharmacy student organization?
Currently, WSU does not have an organized student group specifically geared towards pharmacy. However, pre-pharm students participate in activities sponsored by the pre-med society or pre-health programs. These organization provide mentoring, educational speakers, volunteer and community service, and social activities. Students are welcome to join and those interested should contact the Pre-Health Advisor.