How to get started learning what you need to know about becoming a pharmacist:
- Review the Pharmacy is Right for Me resources on the PHARMCAS website
- Subscribe to the Pharm4Me youtube channel
- Explore and commit to completing the listed experiences on the Pre-Pharmacy Major Map
- Read the VCU Bulletin for students interested in Pharmacy
- Vault Guides – A sample of careers in healthcare. Each guide gives, among other valuable information, an overview of the job and entry-level requirements
- Explore the career summary for a pharmacist on O*Net Online
- Use VCU’s online community, VCU LINK, which connects students, alumni and friends of the university for career advice, industry contacts and meaningful professional relationships
Students with an interest in preparing for pharmacy school must declare an academic major while also indicating a pre-pharmacy advising track.
The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program requires at least 2-years of specific undergraduate college study followed by 4-academic years (or 3-calendar years) of professional pharmacy study.
The majority of programs accept students into the professional pharmacy degree program after the completion of the college course prerequisites. The majority of students enter a pharmacy program with 3 or more years of college experience. Some pharmacy admission offices require or give preference to applicants who have previously earned a baccalaureate (B.S./B.A.) degree. Individuals who hold a bachelor’s degree must still complete the full 4-academic years (or 3-calendar) years of pharmacy study.
Science and non-science courses required for pharmacy school
General biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, human anatomy, human physiology, microbiology and biochemistry are required science prerequisites for admission to pharmacy school.
English composition, calculus, statistics and speech are non-science prerequisites required for pharmacy school.
Other courses, including cell biology, genetics and immunology, human physiology lab and medical microbiology lab, though not required, are strongly recommended for pre-pharmacy students.
What kind of curriculum should I follow?
Not all the courses listed below may be required by all schools, and some schools may require other courses not included in this sample. For a full list of Pharmacy Prerequisites please visit the Preparation for the study of Pharmacy bulletin.
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How do I apply for admission to Pharmacy School
The PharmCAS application cycle begins in mid July, early decision deadlines are September whereas the first regular application deadlines are in November and the last application deadline being in March.
More than 80% of all pharmacy programs require applicants to submit scores from a standardized test known as the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). To determine which Pharm.D programs require the PCAT, review Table 9 of the PSAR handbook. Minimum PCAT scores may be required for admission consideration.
If invited, you should be prepared to discuss why you have chosen to pursue a career in the pharmacy profession and how you perceive the role of the pharmacist in health care. Those who have researched and gained direct exposure to the profession will be better prepared to respond to the interview questions. During these interviews, you may be rated on your oral skills, how you present yourself and interact in a group, your knowledge of the profession of pharmacy, your ability to solve problems, and your motivation to pursue a career in pharmacy.
What's on the PCAT?
There are six content areas measured by the PCAT in seven separate subtests:
- The Verbal Ability section measures general, non-scientific word knowledge and usage using analogies and sentence completion.
- The Biology section measures knowledge of the principles and concepts of basic biology, including general biology, microbiology, and human anatomy and physiology.
- The Reading Comprehension section measures ability to comprehend, analyze and evaluate reading passages on science-related topics.
- The Quantitative Ability section measures skills in mathematical processes and the ability to reason through and understand quantitative concepts and relationships, including applications of algebra, geometry, probability and statistics, pre-calculus and calculus.
- The Chemistry section measures knowledge of principles and concepts of inorganic and elementary organic chemistry.
- The written Essay sections measure conventions of language skills in terms of sentence formation, usage and mechanics. One is included as an experimental item.
All of the writing prompts state a problem involving a health issue, a science issue, or a social, cultural or political issue. Examinees are asked to present a solution to the problem in their essays. They are scored on how well they write an essay that is a sufficient length to adequately explain a solution to the problem.
Important Qualities of a Pharmacist
- EXPERT: someone who is knowledgeable, smart, clinically competent, and provides evidence-based care. Patients are looking for an expert to communicate information in a way they can understand and apply to their medication and how this will impact their health.
- PROFESSIONAL: someone who collaborates with others, takes a leadership role in patient advocacy, and has high integrity.
- SOLID WORK ETHIC: someone who is hardworking, detail-oriented, accurate, and results-oriented
- STRONG MORAL CHARACTER: displays honesty, takes responsibility for the patient’s medication/pharmacy care, is mature, and is supportive of questions through the information-giving process to meet the patient’s needs and preferences.