Advice from those that have taken the path before you.
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Kathy Orear - Registrar and Assistant to the Dean, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy
First of all, pharmacy school is very competitive. In order to get into pharmacy school, you cannot simply take the easy path. To be competitive, you must take upper level courses that best prepare you for success in the pharmacy program. I strongly recommend taking Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and upper level biology and chemistry courses in order to have the background needed for pharmacy school. Even though a degree isn't required for admission, those that are working toward a degree in chemistry or biology certainly have an advantage on the PCAT exam, and do better in courses once they enter pharmacy school.
No matter what pharmacy school you plan to attend, stay in regular contact with that school. I recommend regularly visiting the website to check for updated information.
To be accepted into pharmacy school, you must have a solid PCAT score, a strong GPA, and a background that proves to the committee that you are truly interested in a career in pharmacy. Committees look favorably on students that work in a pharmacy.
Ronnie Norris- Pharmacist, McGehee, AR and member of the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy, and member of the UAMS Admissions Committee
The two major factors that the Admissions Committee will look at are GPA and PCAT scores. If a student has C's in their chemistry and biology, even though they may have a great GPA, they are still going to struggle in pharmacy school. To be competitive, an overall GPA of 3.50 or better is needed. A student also needs to be in the high 70's on the PCAT, and have solid scores on the biology and chemistry sections of that exam. Your overall academic record is considered. There is no mechanism to overlook a bad semester or courses taken early in your college career. Even withdrawals and repeated courses are taken into account to a certain extent. The goal of the College of Pharmacy is to get the best students possible, and with 300 applicants trying for 90 or so positions, they can pretty much do that.
Working in a pharmacy as a Pharm. Tech is a big plus for applicants. It doesn't overcome the other requirements, but can be a big help when you are in the middle of the pack.
Organic chemistry course performance is very often a true indicator of how well a student will perform in pharmacy school. Students who do well in organic chemistry usually do well in pharmacy school, and those that struggle to make a C will usually have a very difficult time in pharmacy school.
Laura Hull - 2005 Graduate of UAM, 2009 Graduate of UAMS College of Pharmacy
Pharmacy school is much more difficult than the pre-pharmacy courses taken in college. I've had to study much harder to make the same grades in the courses at UAMS. Although I received a good background at UAM, I realize that I should have taken a lot more biology. The curriculum at UAMS is very biology intensive. I strongly recommend taking courses like microbiology, genetics, pharmacology, and courses that contain physiology and anatomy*. Courses like zoology, botany, and math have not specifically helped in pharmacy school.
When you get to pharmacy school, plan on studying hard right from the beginning. Your first tests will be given within two or three weeks. Several times, tests have fallen in which multiple tests have been given the same week. If you haven't been keeping up on your studying as you go, it is very difficult to have enough time to get all your studying in.
*(NOTE from Bramlett: Anatomy and Physiology I and II can not fulfill the biology pre-requisites for pharmacy school).
Daniel Bryant - Pharmacist in Fordyce, AR-Graduate of UAMS and UAM
There are two types of courses that you must take to be a successful pharmacist. One are the courses that will be helpful to you when you get to UAMS, and the other are courses that will help you on the PCAT exam. The PCAT exam pretty much asks questions of general knowledge about biology, chemistry, math, and verbal skills. So if you make A's in the Principles of Biology, General Chemistry, College Algebra, and your English courses, you should do okay on the PCAT. Courses like Anatomy and Physiology can be very helpful on the PCAT, even though they can't be used to fill the biology requirement for pharmacy school.
Don't try to just take the minimum courses needed to get into pharmacy school. My advice is to take everything that you can while you are in undergraduate school. Take courses like biochemistry, pharmacology, genetics, and vert. phys. because it will make your transcript look stronger to the committee and it will give you a great foundation for the courses you will take at UAMS. Getting into pharmacy school is more difficult now than it was just 5 years ago. It seems now that many applicants are taking PCAT prep courses, and making high scores. There are more applicants with high GPA's than there were a few years back. The percentage of applicants that have B.S. degrees also increases every year. Don't avoid the tough courses in order to try to save your GPA. Chances are, if you can't do well in the tough courses at UAM, pharmacy school is going to be extremely difficult for you.
Brandy Gartman - Graduate University of Louisiana-Monroe College of Pharmacy
I had always heard that if you studied hard through the week, you had a little time to relax on the weekends. That is not the case. Even though I consider myself a better than average student, I have had to study very hard all the time in order to keep up with everything. Pharmacy school is very difficult. Each class in pharmacy school is as hard as your toughest class as an undergraduate. Take as many courses that relate to pharmacy as you possibly can while in college. It will pay off in the long run.
Howard Hendrickson, Faculty member, UAMS College of Pharmacy
Students who go the extra mile and take the difficult courses in their undergraduate program typically outperform those that took the minimum requirements for acceptance. Students should take Anatomy and Physiology, Quantitative Analysis, and Biochemistry even though they are not specific degree requirements. Not only do these courses look good to the admissions committee, but they are extremely helpful on the PCAT exam. The admissions committee strongly favors candidates who take full load semester with the more difficult courses. Each semester in pharmacy school is 17-19 hours of difficult material. If you aren't prepared for a workload of that magnitude, it can be overwelming.
Lindsey Strong, Harding University College of Pharmacy Student from UAM
I strongly recommend that you take Biochemistry I and II. If you don't have those classes, your first semester is going to be extremely difficult. I had a much easier time with it than most of my classmates and finished with one of the higher grades in the class because Dr. Taylor's class had me well prepared.
Also, I highly recommend everyone to look into pharmacy school at Harding. I love it here. It is very similar to the atmosphere at UAM. You can get to know your teachers personally, and the stress level doesn't seem to be as bad as what I have heard from friends at other pharmacy schools. It's a great program.