What does a pharmacist do?
Pharmacists are first and foremost medication specialists who aim to prevent, manage, and cure disease. Pharmacists are becoming a more integral part of the health care team as they counsel patients on new drugs seen on TV, medication side effects, and how to store and dispose of unused medications safely. Many patients ask their pharmacist about changes in their health as they pick up their regular prescription before they seek the counsel of a physician. Most of us might first think of the retail pharmacist who fills our prescriptions, but in fact pharmacists work in many settings, including hospice, home care, poison control centers, and hospitals. They also may choose to work in specialty areas usually within the hospital setting for critical care, infectious disease, oncology, surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, and veterinary pharmacy. Pharmacists are currently in great demand and will be for the foreseeable future.
How long will it take to obtain my Pharmacy degree and what is the curriculum like?
The Doctor of Pharmacy programs are typically three years in length, and intended for college graduates who do not have a bachelor's degree in pharmacy. During the first two years, you take courses in physiology, pharmaceutics, medicinal chemistry, biopharmacy, pharmacology, and pharmacy practice management. During the last year students do rotations in a variety of outpatient and inpatient settings. During the program, you will take the board examinations to become a licensed pharmacist.
Matthew Collier, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology
BDK Science Center 207
What courses should I take at Wittenberg to prepare for pharmacy school?
Many pharmacy schools require the following prerequisite courses:
- 1 year of General Biology (170 and 180)
- 1 semester of Microbiology
- 1 semester of Human Anatomy and Physiology
- 1 year of General Chemistry (121 and 162)
- 1 year of Organic Chemistry (201 and 302)
- 1 semester of Analytical Chemistry
- 1 year of Physics (201 and 202 or 280)
- 1 year of Math (including one calculus course 131 or 201)
Check the prerequisites of the schools you are interested in carefully, as they vary greatly between programs. Other required coursework might include:
- 1 semester of Speech/Public speaking
- 1-2 semesters of English (101 and another English A course)
- 1 semester of Economics
What major should I pursue at Wittenberg if I am interested in pharmacy?
You can choose any of Wittenberg's 20+ majors if you apply to pharmacy program upon graduation from Wittenberg as long as you take the prerequisite courses required by the schools to which you apply. As far as the pharmacy schools are concerned, they do not put much emphasis into whether you graduate with a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree - that choice is yours. Look at the prerequisite requirements for the schools that you are interested in and the degree requirements for your major to determine which degree is the best match for you.
Do I need to have medically related hours when applying to pharmacy schools?
Yes. While most pharmacy programs do not have specific minimum requirements for number of paid or volunteer hours spent in the medical field, they do appreciate your efforts to gain a more hands-on understanding of the field through shadowing or volunteer experiences. Many of our students have been hired as pharmacy technicians and get paid as they gain pharmaceutical experience. Volunteering for 2-3 hours each week during the semester is also a good way to demonstrate to the schools your loyalty and commitment to the profession at a time when they know you are already busy.
Is it important that I participate in extracurricular activities while at Wittenberg?
Yes. While the schools do not require a specific number of extracurricular activities or leadership positions, they look for both in your application materials. They consider how many years you spent with each organization and how involved you appear to be with each one (e.g., leadership roles). The schools use your experiences in this area to better understand your ability to socially interact with others, your leadership potential, and your time management skills. They seek to recruit well-rounded individuals who can successfully balance a heavy academic load with medically related experience and extracurricular activities. If successful, they infer that you will rise to the challenge of their academic program when you have fewer non-academic commitments.
How can I locate the pharmacy program that is best for me?
Start early. Pharmacy schools have not agreed on one standard set of prerequisite requirements. Therefore, you should start to identify 8-10 schools of potential interest before registering for classes in the spring of your SOPHOMORE YEAR. The courses listed above are common to many pharmacy schools, but there may be additional requirements for the schools you are interested in. Prerequisites can vary widely from one program to another.
Do research. Go to the schools' websites and make a table of courses required, average GPA of their incoming class, and number of hours in a medical setting (if any). These will give you some idea of where you need to be academically when you graduate from Wittenberg, and the courses you need to take inside your major and in the general education program to make you a good candidate for that particular set of pharmacy schools. Schools consider both your science GPA and your cumulative GPA, so it is not wise to prioritize your grades in science courses over those taken for your general education requirements.
Summarize your findings.Create a sample table of school information assuming all require general biology and general chemistry. Add a column for each different course as you encounter them as prerequisites at your schools of interest.
|Human A&P||Micro||Nutrition||Psych||Analytical Chemistry||Avg. GPA||Pharmacy hours|
Evaluate your findings. Match your cumulative GPA and PCAT scores with the averages for the last incoming class at each school. Look for data that report on the percentage of students that have passed the board exams.
Always apply to the school(s) in the state where your parents are living and paying taxes. You have the best chance to get into the public school in that state, and the tuition at your in-state school is much less than at a private or out-of-state public school. Apply to the public and/or private pharmacy schools in your home state. Consider applying to between 3 and 5 pharmacy schools.
How and when should I apply to pharmacy schools?
- If you intend to go directly from Wittenberg to pharmacy school, apply to the schools of your choice by the end of October of your senior year.
- Take the PCAT during the summer between your junior and senior year (see below).
- Apply to the pharmacy schools of your choice using PharmCAS (www.pharmcas.org). (Details provided below.)
- Typically, schools will require official transcripts and three letters of evaluation sent on your behalf in addition to their application materials. It is best to have at least one faculty member and one medical professional send letters to the pharmacy school, but be sure to follow the directions for each school.
- Some pharmacy schools do not require on campus interviews, but many do. It is in your best interest to arrange a visit with the schools that you are interested in, however, to better evaluate their faculty, facilities, and students in order to determine which schools are a good match for you.
- Wait for the results of your application after the interview (if you had one) to find out if you have been accepted, wait listed, or rejected by that particular school.
- You are at a disadvantage if you opt to take the PCAT late or submit your materials late in the cycle - applications are often considered as they arrive, not after the deadline. Complete and send your materials in a timely manner.
What is the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)?
The PCAT is a 4.5 hour test that is given at specific testing centers in January, June, and October each year. It is composed of 280 multiple choice questions and one essay. Because this is a content based test, you should have taken General Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Math, and Physics prior to taking this examination. There are several subtests, each of which is timed separately:
- Verbal ability: measures general word knowledge and usage. Utilizes analogies and sentence completion.
- Biology: measures principles of basic biology, including general biology, microbiology, and human anatomy and physiology.
- Reading Comprehension: measures ability to comprehend, analyze, and evaluate reading passages on science-related topics.
- Quantitative Ability: measures ability to reason through and understand quantitative concepts and relationships, including application of algebra, geometry, probability and statistics, pre-calculus, and calculus.
- Chemistry: measures knowledge of principles in inorganic and organic chemistry.
For more information about the PCAT or to register online, visit www.pcatweb.info
Do I need to go through the Pre-Health Professions Committee when applying?
No. Pharmacy schools do not require its applicants to have a composite letter of evaluation that is generated by Wittenberg's Pre-Health Professions committee. Instead, you will usually be required to have three letters of evaluation submitted directly to the schools on your behalf. When choosing your evaluators, consider asking at least one pharmacist and one faculty member, but be sure to follow the specific directions for each school to which you apply.
Do I need to coordinate my application through a service?
Yes. The Pharmacy Central Application Service (PharmCAS: www.pharmcas.org)
is a nonprofit, centralized service to facilitate the process of applying to participating pharmacy schools. PharmCAS benefits the applicant by collecting, coordinating, and processing all transcripts and other application materials for the pharmacy schools. Most of these schools will not allow direct applications - you must use PharmCAS. The applicant completes the PharmCAS application, and PharmCAS will send copies of your application to each pharmacy school you specified on the application.
Do you have any tips for preparing an attractive application?
Filling out applications for professional schools can be difficult and tedious, but require your best effort. Applications must be filled out completely and correctly or they will be returned to you. Having your application returned for further information delays contact with the admissions offices of your target schools. Pay particular attention to the required personal statement. Have someone assess your essay (i.e. Career Center staff, Writing Center, etc.). Remember that you are trying to "sell yourself" to an admissions committee. Irrelevant details, poor sentence and paragraph structure, incorrect grammar, misspelling, typographical errors, etc. detract from the image you wish to create as their ideal candidate.
Which Pharmacy schools have Wittenberg students been accepted to in the last 10 years?
A few years ago, most students interested in Pharmacy matriculated to a 6 years undergraduate pharmacy program. Due to changes in the degree requirements in the past couple of years, Wittenberg is attracting more students interested in Pharmacy and placing them into graduate programs at:
- Lake Erie College of Pharmacy
- The Ohio State University
- University of Cincinnati