Tony Guerra, PharmD
Tony Guerra, PharmD
Tony Guerra, PharmD, is chair, instructor, and pre-pharmacy advisor at Des Moines Area Community College's Pharmacy Technician program and Pharmacy Podcast Network Co-Host. He's Tony_PharmD on Twitter and TonyPharmD on YouTube providing Top 200 drugs and pronunciation help to over 4,500 followers with over 1 million views. His two audiobooks Memorizing Pharmacology: A Relaxed Approach and How to Pronounce Drug Names: A Visual Approach to Preventing Medication Errors are Amazon bestsellers. He graduated from Iowa State University with a BA in English and the University of Maryland with his PharmD.

What Pharmacy School Applicants Can Expect This Fall

JULY 29, 2016
Although the number of pharmacy school applicants may have slightly decreased in the past 5 years, the surge in pharmacy schools has made admissions a priority.

That doesn’t mean getting in will be easy academically; grade point averages (GPAs) have only decreased a few hundredths of a point in that time. However, earning a higher PCAT score and demonstrating other strong success characteristics could give applicants more choices this admissions season.
 
Here are some changes you may see this year:
 
1. More Holistic View of Your Application
While a high GPA and PCAT score can help a student get in, pharmacy schools are trying to look past traditional metrics. With characteristics like grit, positivity, and resilience as important factors, student who lack ideal numerical metrics can still have a chance if they demonstrate their ability to persevere and remain positive through adversity. Pharmacy schools don’t want to admit students who will struggle—not only for the sake of reputation, but also for the sake of fairness to the student.
 
2. Unified National Campaign 
In the “Pharmacy is Right for Me” campaign,  pharmacy schools are reaching out to provide more information about the profession. The campaign has already been around for 3 years and is an important effort to make pharmacists visible.
 
Most of what pharmacists do for their patients—resolve problems, catch errors, work with other providers—is hidden from the general public. This campaign is one aspect of a pharmacy school collaborative looking to continue to improve the diversity of the applicant pool and educate the country on the value of the pharmacist.
 
3. Unprecedented Collaboration Between Schools
Six Illinois pharmacy schools collaborated on a community college campus to welcome potential applicants. Traditionally, pharmacy schools didn’t need to recruit heavily. and if they did, it would be for their own campuses.
 
In the movie A Beautiful Mind, there’s a scene where John Nash, played by Russell Crowe, outlines the value of thinking about what’s best for the individual and the group. This kind of thinking seems to permeate some pharmacy school groups.
 
Don’t be surprised if you see pharmacy schools aligning based on brand. For example, 2 private schools in different states might have more in common than a public and private in the same state. Dual-degree MBA programs could align in an entrepreneurial cohort, and newer 3-year programs might come together to outline their model’s benefits.
 
4. Student Ambassadors
Whereas college campuses may have previously scheduled 1 or 2 visitors’ days in a semester, some colleges are making weekly commitments to students interested in the profession. You might see pharmacy students who work in some capacity for their schools communicating for their campus.
 
I remember being asked to attend a lunch and meet with potential students at a graduate school I attended. The administrator then left us to talk to the students for an hour and a half unsupervised. The student applicants anonymously reported this as the most important part of their visit. They felt that a college honest with them in this way is an excellent place to attend. Instead of a half-day-and-done event, these ambassadors can serve as longitudinal conduits to information and mentorship.
 
5. Follow Back on Twitter
It’s relatively easy to see how engaged a college is with its Twitter base. Follow it and see if it follows back. Although some colleges put out videos as commercials, other campuses have strong presences on YouTube, Instagram, and other social media sites. Schools that embrace social media can be seen as 3-dimensional and warm, whereas schools that ignore followers can seem 2-dimensional and distant.
 
You still need to be an outstanding applicant to get into pharmacy school, but schools are looking at different ways to define excellence. With an unprecedented number of pharmacy schools, applicants can enjoy greater respect for what makes them able to provide a unique addition to the profession.


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