Pharmacy is a career that requires a sound educational background in math and science as well as good communication and social skills. Pharmacy programs vary from college to college, but all pharmacy schools in the nation now only offer a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm. D.) degree. This type of program usually requires at least two years of pre-pharmacy undergraduate study and four years of professional education in the actual pharmacy program. Some pharmacy schools might require additional coursework prior to admission (example here), which make it necessary to do three or four years of pre-pharmacy coursework. Most students from Montana apply to the Skaggs School of Pharmacy at the University of Montana.
It is always a good idea to observe and visit with members of the professional community. Some schools require observing, volunteering or paid work in a practicing pharmacy or health care facility. UM requires a minimum of 20 hours of such exposure. Several pharmacies in the Helena area are happy to host Carroll students as observers. Students may also observe in a hometown pharmacy during the summer. The following attributes of an experience are important:
- opportunity to demonstrate effective interpersonal communication
- opportunity to provide a helping service for clients
- regular supervision of the student and observation of the quality of service provided for clients or patients
- opportunity to demonstrate responsibility, sound judgement, maturity, and dependability
The website for the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) is an excellent resource on educational and career opportunities in pharmacy and provides links to the pharmacy web pages for every U.S. school of pharmacy.
To quote the AACP: “If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding career within the health professions, consider pharmacy. Be sure that your academic background provides a solid foundation for the pharmacy curriculum, and take the time to investigate the variety of pharmacy programs that are available to you.”
Successful Applicant Profile
Successful applicant profiles, which indicate the number of applications received, number of admitted students, demographic information, average GPA, and other information, are available on pharmacy school web sites. See the profile for the University of Montana (UM).
Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT)
A standardized test such as the PCAT (or the GRE in a few cases) may also be required for admission. The subject areas of the PCAT are biology, chemistry, quantitative ability, reading comprehension, writing and verbal ability. The test is now computer-based and is given in the summer fall and winter. UM requires the PCAT test, and for admission to the 2018 entering class, the exam must be compiled by the last 2017 testing dates (shown below). The average score of admitted UM applicants in 2016 was at the 62nd percentile. For more information, visit their website at http://pcatweb.info.
PCAT Testing Dates for 2018 Applicants
- 2017: September 7-8, October 23-31, November 1-3
- 2018: January 3-4 (too late for application to the University of Montana)