Pre-Pharmacy Preparation at UH Mānoa
(Text compiled from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy website: www.aacp.org, Pharmacy School Admission Requirements 2011-2012; the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy website: http://pharmacy.uhh.hawaii.edu, the UHHilo website: www.hilo.hawaii.edu and the Harcourt Assessment PCAT Candidate Information booklet, and the UHM 2012-2013 Catalog.)
Hawai'i Pharm.D. Program: UH Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy
Pharmacists specialize in the composition and interaction of drugs, including their physiological effects on humans. Traditionally, pharmacists dispense medications, but as the primary source of information on both prescription and over-the-counter medications, they also serve as a link between physician and patient. Pharmacists often decide on the form of medication, check for drug interactions, verify appropriate drug dosages and schedules, and advise patients in the proper use of medications. The ability to communicate effectively is critical, as pharmacists must be able to communicate with physicians in professional, scientific language as well as with patients in lay terms.
Pharmacists are employed in a multitude of public and private settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, HMOs, government agencies, pharmaceutical corporations, and forensic medical labs.
Pharmacists hold Pharm.D., or Doctorate of Pharmacy, degrees. Related careers include Pharmacy Technician or Assistant at the Associates level, and Pharmacology, a drug research specialty for medical doctors (M.D.s or M.D./Ph.D.s).
Completing a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree requires 5 – 8 years of education:
Undergraduate Preparation (~ 2-3 years) or Bachelors Degree (~ 4 years);
Pharmacy School (4 academic years or 3 calendar years); and
The Pharm.D. program requires a minimum of 2 years of pre-professional undergraduate coursework. Although it is possible to transfer to a Pharm.D. program after 2 to 2 ½ years of pre-professional undergraduate coursework, a Bachelors degree can make you more competitive for admission and will provide you more options if you later decide to change careers. Students transferring into a Pharm.D. program before completing a Bachelors may be required to complete the Bachelors as part of the Pharm.D. program.
Many schools offer joint degree programs that may extend the number of years required. Examples include Pharm.D./Ph.D. to combine pharmacy with research or teaching; Pharm.D./M.P.H to combine with public health; Pharm.D./J.D. to combine with law; and Pharm.D./M.B.A. to combine with business administration, which is particularly helpful for those planning to open their own pharmacy.
The four-year Pharm.D. program typically consists of three years of course work followed by one year of clinical internship, which leads in turn to licensing exams.
Licensing is conducted by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and licensing exams include the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE).
After graduating from pharmacy school, increasing numbers of students are seeking residency training in institutional or community practice or other specialty areas. Residency is sometimes a requirement for employment in hospitals or as clinical faculty at pharmacy schools.
All students—both those completing a Bachelors degree and those planning to transfer into pharmacy school before completing a Bachelors degree—must complete all of their school’s “prerequisites,” i.e., courses required to get into pharmacy school. Remember that prerequisites vary from school to school, so you must research which prerequisites you will need. Prerequisites can be found in the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR); a copy is available in PAC and online.
The following UHM courses are commonly required for admission to pharmacy schools:
|BIOL 171/171Lab & 172/172Lab||Introductory Biology I & II w/ Labs|
|CHEM 161/161Lab & 162/162Lab||General Chemistry I & II w/ Labs|
|CHEM 272/272L & 273/273Lab||Organic Chemistry I & II w/ Labs|
|PHYS 151/151Lab (& 152/152Lab)||General Physics I (& II) w/ Labs|
|MATH 215 (& 216)
or MATH 241 (& 242)
|Applied Calculus I (& II)
or Calculus I (& II)
|ENG 100 & 200||English Composition I & II|
|ECON 130 or 131||Microeconomics or Macroeconomics|
|COMG 151 or 251||Speech or Public Speaking|
|ECON 321 or PSY/SOCS 225||Statistics|
(or MICR 130/140L)
|Biology of Microorganisms w/ Lab|
(or General Microbiology w/ Lab)
|PHYL 301/301L & 302/302L
(or PHYL 141/141L & 142/142L)
|Human Anatomy and Physiology w/ Lab|
Additional requirements may include courses such as biochemistry and additional social sciences or humanities.
Tuition, as high as it is, rarely covers the cost of educating a pharmacy student, which means that each new student represents a large investment by the school. Schools need to be certain that the students they accept will be capable of completing the academic curriculum and are likely to become good pharmacists.
Are you capable of completing the pharmacy curriculum?
Pharmacy school admissions committees are looking for students who have:
- Completed the prerequisites;
- A high overall GPA;
- A high science/math GPA;
- Performed well on the PCAT; and
- Balanced their course load so it is challenging yet realistic.
Are you likely to become a good pharmacist?
Admissions committees look for students who have:
- Experience in the field and with what pharmacy entails;
- Excellent oral and written communication skills;
- Strong letters of evaluation or recommendation
- High ethical and moral standards and a conscientious work ethic;
- Demonstrated maturity (judgment, responsibility, dependability);
- Demonstrated empathy, compassion, and a commitment to public service;
- A broad liberal arts education that includes the humanities and social sciences; and
- A well-rounded life that balances academics, community service, social activities, and personal interests (hobbies, skills, sports, etc.).
The University of Hawai’i at Hilo College of Pharmacy (www.hilo.hawaii.edu), which opened in 2007 and graduated its first class in spring 2011, is the only accredited pharmacy program in Hawai’i.
In the U.S. and Canada, there are over 100 public and private pharmacy schools, each one unique in its mission, philosophy, criteria, and strengths. It is critical for students to research and choose the programs to which they plan to apply as early as possible. The most important part of choosing prospective schools is finding a good match between applicant and school.
To find schools that are good a fit for you (PAC peer advisors can help with this process):
- Assess your individual strengths and weaknesses, your professional interests, learning style, and personality;
- Start with a list of all schools you would consider attending, which usually includes all 100+ schools;
- Using the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR), create your “Long List” by omitting the schools that do not match your professional interests, learning style, and personality (PAC offers a list of 7 factors to consider, found here: Choosing a School Handout);
- Once you have your PCAT scores, create your “Short List” by categorizing the schools into ‘Reach’, ‘Match’, and ‘Safety’, ranking the schools by preference, and finally choosing how many schools you can afford to apply to;
If possible, visit the schools to see their facilities, talk to Admissions Directors, and chat with students.
Most Pharmacy Schools require a standardized test called the Pharmacy College Admissions Test, or PCAT*. Tables in the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR) identify which schools require the PCAT.
Overview: Most pharmacy colleges require applicants to take a standardized test called the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)*. The PCAT assesses your knowledge and skills in Biology, Chemistry, Quantitative Ability, Verbal Ability, Reading Comprehension, and Writing. The test requires ~5 hours to complete, and entails ~240 multiple choice questions and two 30-minute essays. The PCAT is now administered in a computer-based format, and is offered about nine times each year, in July, September, and January.
Scoring: The five sections are scored on a scale ranging from 200-600, 600 being the highest; writing samples are assigned on a scale of 0 to 5, 5 being the highest.
Preparation: Your most important preparation for the PCAT is your undergraduate courses (not only the prerequisites for pharmacy school), many of which sharpen your writing and verbal reasoning skills. Remember that your verbal ability, reading comprehension, and written skills are the most difficult to improve.
*A few pharmacy schools require the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Testing Assessment (ACT) for admission.
PAC offers a more detailed summary of the PCAT here: PCAT Exam Breakdown Sheet
There are three general steps in applying to pharmacy schools: the primary application, the secondary application, and the interview.
1. Primary applications must be submitted through the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS), which is a centralized application process. Once the application is complete, PharmCAS forwards it to whichever schools the student has designated.
*To apply to schools that do not use PharmCAS, visit the school’s website or contact the Admissions Office directly for information and applications. Contact information for all U.S. and Canadian Pharmacy schools can be found in the Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR).
2. Secondary applications are specific to individual pharmacy schools, which send them to applicants after receiving the PharmCAS application. Some but not all schools screen applicants before sending secondary applications. Secondary applications commonly request additional information, essays, and letters of recommendation.
3. Interviews: After reviewing applicants’ complete application packet (including both primary and secondary applications), pharmacy schools invite promising applicants to interview. Applicants are responsible for all costs of interviewing, including airfare, lodging, professional attire, and meals.
- The more you know about a school, the better your chances of being accepted.
- Answers to many questions about applying are available in the PSAR.
- Contact individual schools’ Admissions Offices to find out how they handle:
- Advanced placement (AP) credits
- International Baccalaureate (IB) credits
- College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits
- Military Credits
- Courses taken at a community college
- Courses taken for credit/no credit instead of a grade
- Residency issues
- Time limits for old science courses
- Non-U.S. coursework
UHMānoa’s Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center (PAC) has reference books, lists of volunteer opportunities, academic planning worksheets, and one-on-one advising by peers who can help you prepare for and apply to pharmacy schools.
|UHM’s Pre-Pharmacy Association (PPA)||www2.hawaii.edu/~ppa
|American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)||www.aacp.org|
|American Pharmacy Association (APhA) Career Pathways Online Assessment Tool||https://apha.enetrix.com/pls/aphap/!apha_pathways.welcome|
|Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT)||www.pcatweb.info|
|Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS)||www.pharmcas.org|
|Medical Professions Admission Guide: Strategy
for Success by NAAHP
|Available in PAC|
|Pharmacy School Admission Requirements (PSAR)||Available in PAC
Or online at www.aacp.org
Click on: “Resources”
“Admissions” (under Is Pharmacy for You)
Pharmacy School Admission Requirements
|Preparing for Graduate School by the Honors Program||http://preparingforgraduateschool.weebly.com/|