You’ve done some soul searching. You’ve weighed all your options. And now, you’re convinced that you’d like to explore a career in pharmacy. Well, coming to this decision is only the first step. The next big step is selecting the best pharmacy school for you. You’ll most likely be enrolled in a program for 4-6 years, so it’s important that your school of choice caters to both your personal interests and your academic needs.
Much like choosing just the right undergrad program, this is a very intimate, and sometimes intimidating task. To help, we’ve asked pharmacy school students to provide their advice for finding the best pharmacy school, with hopes of making this process a little bit easier for you. Read below for the most popular pieces of advice.
Do Your Research
Do your due diligence and research in selecting the pharmacy school that is right for you. You’ll be investing a lot of your time and energy into attending pharmacy school, so it’s important that the return on your investment will be worth it! Look into the research opportunities, licensure pass rate, job placement statistics, and the curriculum structure offered, as these are all important factors to explore before making a commitment. If you know students or current professors at any of the schools that you’re looking to apply to, reach out to them for candid feedback on their experiences. Their responses can prove helpful in providing you with information that you may not be able to find through a Google search or in a pamphlet.
After taking the aforementioned steps, be sure to write down any remaining questions you may have to ask during your interview. Not only do interviews serve as an opportunity to present yourself as an exceptional candidate, but also as a time to ask students, faculty, and alumni about their current/past experiences, how you can increase your chances of admission, and much more.
Shadow Your Dream School
After completing your research, ideally, you will want to visit the campus of your number one choice to ensure that the pharmacy school is a right fit and feel for you. Bethany Von Hoff, a current student at the University of Minnesota’s College of Pharmacy, reflects on her selection process and offers some advice on the experience, “I had read about a lot of pharmacy schools online and talked to people that had gone to the schools, but until you actually visit the school and see it for yourself, it’s really hard to know where you want to go.” Don’t underestimate the power of a school visit. Having a more informed opinion will ensure that you’re making the best choice for you!
Oftentimes, the best option is right under your nose. There are excellent pharmacy school options all across the country, which means that you can attend a school close to your hometown, near (or at) the institution where you received your undergraduate degree, or even in the city where you’ve always dreamed of settling down in. Additionally, the resources in the area around your pharmacy school can double the opportunities available to you while in school.
Michael Murphy, another pharmacy school student interviewed, shares, “I’ve always been a Buckeye. It’s the heart of a city that I love so much and a place that has always felt like home. With the endless opportunities available at the Wexner Medical Center, and James Comprehensive Cancer Hospital, and faculty that are leaders in the profession, I knew that The Ohio State University was a perfect fit for me.” What can be taken away form Murphy’s anecdote is the true value in the location of a school. In addition to the school’s culture and academic programs, location can make all the difference in the world when it comes to enjoying your time at the school you choose.
Ensure Accessibility to a Strong Alumni Network
Believe it or not, when you attend pharmacy school you’re not only gaining access to the current network of students, but also the alumni network. It’s important to ensure that your pharmacy school invests in opportunities to connect current students with alumni, as these individuals can be crucial to expanding job and research opportunities following pharmacy school.
I’m sure you remember this important unspoken factor while you were in undergrad. Well, the same applies to pharmacy school! When gearing yourself to enter an industry that is as niche as the pharmaceutical industry, it can help to have a strong network of supporters and potential mentors who can guide you throughout your career.
At the end of the day, this choice comes down to what your interests and what your needs are. Relying on advice from mentors, friends, and family is always encouraged, but keep in mind that they aren’t the ones who will be dedicating the next 4-6 years of their life to whichever school you decide to attend, you will. So make it count! Do your research, visit those top choices, make sure it’s in a city you’ll enjoy, and be sure that the support system is strong enough for your career goals. You may be surprised by how far a little extra effort can take you in this process. There’s always going to another school with characteristics that you may find more appealing, but remember, this isn’t about finding the school that is the “best” in every way, shape, and form, but rather about finding the pharmacy school that is the best for you!