This is an overview of what will be expected of students planning to enter a pharmacy program in the U.S. Each school will have slightly different requirements, but most expect that you will have completed your pre-health studies at a school in the United States.
The Pharmacy College Admission Test is required by many pharmacy classes. Each school has a minimum required score on the PCAT, which is measured in percentiles (0% to 100% of what other students have achieved) To be competitive, a minimum score in the 60th percentile should be achieved. Many schools accept only students who have received a score in the 80th percentile.
While you may complete your degree in any major you desire, you are required to have taken specific classes including 1 year (8 credits) of general chemistry with laboratories (2 credits), 1 year of organic chemistry with laboratories, 1 year of calculus, 1 year of physics with laboratories, 1 semester (4 credits) of Human anatomy, 1 semester of human physiology, 1 semester of professional/technical writing and 1 semester of microbiology. We recommend that students major in Biology or Chemistry in order to best prepare themselves for what they will be expected to know in medical school.
The typical required class numbers at SUU are:
BIOL 1610, 1615, 1620, 1625;
CHEM 1210, 1215, 1220, 1225 2310, 2315, 2320, 2325;
MATH 1050, 1060, 1210;
and PHYS 2010, 2015, 2020, and 2025.
A score of 3.1 (B average) is generally considered the lowest Grade Point Average a pharmacy school accepts. The average student entering pharmacy school has a GPA of 3.5 to 3.7 on a 4 point scale.
Applicants to pharmacy school will have to pass an interview with the prospective school. This interview may last up to two hours and will test your ability to communicate well with others as well as your problem solving, observational, analytical and behavioral attributes. In short, you will need to convince the interviewer that you are the kind of person who will become a successful health professional.
Medical schools expect you to have had experience working in a pharmacy environment. A common requirement is 60 hours shadowing or working as a pharmacy tech during your pre-health years of study. You should also plan on completing at least 50 hours of patient contact through volunteering or employment in a hospital, assisted care facility, clinic, or similar organization. The programs of MPI will help you to arrange local opportunities for all of this.
Future health professionals need to be leaders in their professional and everyday communities. These experiences can be accomplished through participation in clubs, religious organizations and campus entities. Pharmacy schools want to see that you are a 'people-person,' able to work well with others. Leadership experience that requires you to coordinate and be closely involved with other people will develop and demonstrate this ability.
A pharmacist must be a researcher, able to gather information and draw conclusions. You will need to have experience writing research papers and participating in research conferences. All students of MPI are guided through the process of obtaining sufficient research experience.
As a health professional, you will need not only to know the people you will serve, you must also demonstrate an interest in making their lives better. There is no better way to gain experience and show you care about others than through volunteer work. There are unlimited opportunities to serve others in the community of SUU. Many pharmacy schools ask for 45 hours of volunteer work per year.
Expressing yourself in English can be difficult enough without having to worry about medically specific vocabulary, and yet, this is something all international health students will have to deal with. To succeed, you will need to develop the ability to convey ideas clearly and to understand others, including patients who may come from extremely different backgrounds from your own. Language is only one piece of this puzzle. You will need a working knowledge of cultures, symbols and non-verbal communication as well. Through practice and specialized education, you will obtain all the skills necessary to communicate with those around you.
Many schools ask for three separate letters of recommendation from a professor, supervisor or someone else you have worked for. These letters should attest to your good moral character and work ethic. MPI's mentors and instructors are good sources of these letters, as they will have worked closely with you, as well as people and groups you have served through volunteer work.
With your application for pharmacy school, you will likely need to include an essay describing the personal attributes that will make you a valued member of the student body of the school and an asset to the pharmaceutical community. It should describe the experiences that have helped develop you as a person and that have led you to apply to pharmacy school. It can include your thoughts, goals and strengths, as well as areas you feel you need to improve.