PHARMACY

Pharmacists must understand the use, clinical effects, and composition of drugs, including their chemical, biological, and physical properties. The goal of pharmacy care is to maximize positive health care outcomes and improve patients’ quality of life with minimum risk. Pharmacists may work in healthcare settings (hospital, nursing home, clinic, etc.) or in retail settings.

You must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from an accredited pharmacy institution and pass a state licensure exam. It is possible to enter a PharmD program upon completion of prerequisites before earning an undergraduate degree, but many PharmD programs prefer or require applicants to have a BA or BS first.

Profession Overview

Profession Overview


Pharmacists typically do the following:

  • Fill prescriptions, verifying instructions from physicians on the proper amounts of medication to give to patients
  • Check whether prescriptions will interact negatively with other drugs that a patient is taking or any medical conditions the patient has
  • Instruct patients on how and when to take a prescribed medicine and inform them about potential side effects they may experience from taking the medicine
  • Give flu shots and, in most states, other vaccinations
  • Advise patients about general health topics, such as diet, exercise, and managing stress, and on other issues, such as what equipment or supplies would be best to treat a health problem
  • Complete insurance forms and work with insurance companies to ensure that patients get the medicines they need
  • Oversee the work of pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in training (interns)
  • Keep records and do other administrative tasks
  • Teach other healthcare practitioners about proper medication therapies for patients

Important Qualities:

  • Analytical skills: Pharmacists must provide safe medications efficiently. To do this, they must be able to evaluate a patient’s needs and the prescriber’s orders, and have extensive knowledge of the effects and appropriate circumstances for giving out a specific medication.
  • Communication skills: Pharmacists frequently offer advice to patients. They might need to explain how to take a medicine, for example, and what its side effects are. They also need to offer clear direction to pharmacy technicians and interns.
  • Computer skills: Pharmacists need computer skills to use any electronic health record (EHR) systems that their organization has adopted.
  • Detail oriented: Pharmacists are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the prescriptions they fill. They must be able to find the information that they need to make decisions about what medications are appropriate for each patient, because improper use of medication can pose serious health risks.
  • Managerial skills: Pharmacists—particularly those who run a retail pharmacy—must have good managerial skills, including the ability to manage inventory and oversee a staff.

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook Pharmacists

Learn more about Pharmacy:

Admissions Criteria

Admissions Criteria


Coursework

This is a list of common pre-pharmacy requirements and the Kalamazoo College course equivalents. The course prerequisites vary across programs. This list does not include all courses that may be required by pharmacy schools. Additionally, schools have differing policies for accepting AP/IB credits to fulfill prerequisites. Students are responsible for verifying the prerequisite coursework and policies of the schools to which they plan to apply. Helpful resources include the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR), and individual school websites.

BIOL 123 while this course is not a pharmacy school requirement, BIOL 123 is strongly recommended to first-year students, as it includes physiology and is required for the Biology major.

** BIOL 222 and *** BIOL 376 may not meet the admissions criteria of your intended program. If the program you are preparing for has prerequisites that K College doesn’t offer, most commonly human anatomy and physiology, you may take them at Western Michigan University under our inter-institutional enrollment arrangement. Please contact the Registrar’s office a K College for the policy, procedure, and forms. This is done on a space-available basis so plan ahead and make your arrangements early. The cost is included in your K tuition and the grades will appear on your K transcript and be calculated into your K GPA.

GPA and Extracurricular Experience

The average GPA of matriculants to PharmD programs was a 3.3 (PharmCAS Report) for the 2018-2019 cycle. Schools vary widely in the minimum PCAT score they will consider, so consult individual program information for specifics. Many schools also encourage or require that applicants have paid or volunteer experience working with patients in a pharmacy or health-related setting. The AACP’s FAQs about Pharmacy Admissions provides additional information that may be of interest.

Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)

Most PharmD programs require the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT).  Students should read through all information on the PCAT website prior to submitting an application to test. Not all pharmacy schools require the PCAT.

Length: 4 hours

Sections: Five sections:

  • Writing
  • Biological Processes
  • Chemical Processes
  • Critical Reading, and
  • Quantitative Reasoning

Scores: Scores range from 200-600.

Cost: The registration fee is $210 which includes the exam and scores sent to the three recipients you verify during registration (PharmCAS counts as 1 recipient). Sending scores to additional non-PharmCAS schools after registration will cost $20 for each recipient.

PCAT Prep Resources: There are a variety of PCAT prep resources, each differing in both cost and teaching style.

School Selection

School Selection


Number of schools: Students typically apply to between 5-8 pharmacy schools.

Factors to consider:

  • Admission requirements: The prerequisite coursework and clinical experience requirements vary widely between each Pharm.D. program. Determine where you’re eligible to apply based on the coursework/clinical work you’ve completed or will complete before matriculation.
  • Location: Urban vs. rural setting, proximity to family, recreational opportunities, cost of living, etc.
  • Mission Statements: You should look for schools with mission statements that fit with your own goals.
  • Curriculum: Seek out information about the curriculum and consider how it fits with your learning style.
  • Cost: Consider tuition and type of financial aid available

Additional resources for school selection:

Application Overview

Application Overview


Application Timing

Most pharmacy degree programs in the U.S. participate in the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) for admission. Designed for first-year professional pharmacy degree applicants, PharmCAS offers a simple, efficient process to apply to multiple colleges and schools of pharmacy using a single web-based application. The PharmCAS application opens in July for enrollment in the following year. School deadlines vary from September (for early decision) to November 1st through March 1st. PharmCAS provides detailed information on the application process.

Applications for PharmCAS are reviewed on a rolling basis. We recommend applying as early in the cycle as possible. 

Primary Applications

Pharmacy Primary Application:

  • Centralized Application Service: PharmCAS – Pharmacy College Application Service
  • Number of Participating Schools: Approximately 125 pharmacy schools participate in PharmCAS.
  • Cost: $175 which includes one pharmacy school designation. Each additional school is $55.
  • Fee Assistance? A limited number fee waivers are available through the PharmCAS Fee Assistance Program, which covers the PharmCAS fees and 1 school. Waivers are granted on a first-come, first-serve basis so it’s best to apply early.
  • Personal Statement Prompt: “Your Personal Essay should address why you selected pharmacy as a career and how the Doctor of Pharmacy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you achieve your goals.” – 4,500 character limit
  • Application Timing: Students will apply in the summer of the year preceding their planned matriculation. The PharmCAS application cycle opens in July.
  • Resources:

Secondary Applications

The PharmCAS web application is only one step in the pharmacy admissions process. Pharm.D. programs may also require you to submit a secondary application or supplemental information. Required information may include a high school transcript, photo, fee, additional essays, and possibly other information. Some schools may send secondaries to applicants after reviewing their primary application, while others post secondary materials on their website for all applicants to submit. Review the individual school requirements on the PharmCAS School Directory to determine which programs require secondary materials and how they want the materials to be submitted. If a pharmacy school sends a you a secondary after review of your primary application, a 2-week turnaround is recommended for submitting the secondary application. 

Recommendation Letters

Pharmacy schools typically require between 3-4 recommendation letters. At least one of your letters be from a science faculty member and one be from a PI or research supervisor (if you participated in research). Some programs may require a letter from a pharmacist. The other letters should be made up of professional references who can write compellingly about your personal qualities that will contribute to a successful career in pharmacy. Students should check each school’s requirements to ensure you have the required letters. PharmCAS will accept up to 4 recommendation letters.

Interviews

The interview is one of the most important elements in the healthcare professions application process. When a school invites you to an interview, they are indicating an interest in selecting you for their school based on your application. The interview gives both of you the opportunity to exchange information to determine if you are a good “fit” for each other.

Pharmacy schools require personal interviews with applicants to assess qualities such as self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and ability to overcome challenges. Be prepared to discuss why you wish to pursue a career in pharmacy and the experiences that have motivated you. 

What to Expect at a Pharmacy School Interview

The interview is one of the most important elements in the healthcare professions application process. When a school invites you to an interview, they are indicating an interest in selecting you for their school based on your application. The interview gives both of you the opportunity to exchange information to determine if you are a good “fit” for each other.

Pharmacy schools require personal interviews with applicants to assess qualities such as self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and ability to overcome challenges. Be prepared to discuss why you wish to pursue a career in pharmacy and the experiences that have motivated you. 

How to Prepare

Your interview prep should be different based on the type of interview the school employs. In general, you should always:

  • Review your application materials (including activities log, personal statement, and essays) and be prepared to discuss them in detail.
  • Brush up on current events in healthcare and in your profession specifically.
  • Research the school. Do an in-depth review of the school’s website and any additional materials you have. Remember, the interview is your chance to show them why you are a good fit for that particular program.

Resources

  • Review individual school websites – most programs provide details on their interview process