As new pharmacists receive their exam results and enter the workforce, many are facing questions about their school experiences, career plans, further education plans, and the rising debt students face.
As new pharmacists receive their exam results and enter the workforce, many are facing questions about their school experiences, career plans, further education plans, and the rising debt students face. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy answered some of these questions with the 2019 graduating student survey.
Of the 11,047 respondents from 135 colleges and schools of pharmacy, 61.8% self-identified as female, 35.1% identified as male, and 3% answered that they were transgender, had a different identity, or preferred not to disclose their gender identity.
The percent of respondents who identified as a transgender doubled since the 2018 survey, from 7 to 14 for transgender women, and from 6 to 12 for transgender men.
The majority of respondents said they had paid employment while in school, ranging from 4.5% who worked 30+ hours per week to 31.7% who worked 10-14 hours per week.
Nearly 85% had borrowed money for expenses during the course of their PharmD program. Of those who attended private institutions, the mean amount borrowed was $198,560, and at public institutions the mean amount totaled $144,083. Overall, the average amount borrowed was $172,329.
Many respondents also had previous degrees before entering pharmacy school: 5968 had received a BS, BA, or other bachelor’s degree. Nearly 1300 had received an Associate’s degree, 362 had received a different degree, and 4086 did not have a degree prior to entering the program.
The majority of students said they felt prepared to enter the workplace. Over 50% answered ‘agree’ to the statement “The learning experience with other professions’ students helped me gain a better understanding of how to be part of a multidisciplinary team to improve patient outcomes.”
More than 73% of survey respondants said they would choose to study pharmacy again if were they to start their college career over, with 41.1% indicating 'strongly agree' and 39.2% indicating they 'agree' with the sentiment. In choosing a pharmacy program, 81% of those surveyed indicated they would make the same decision if there were to restart their academic careers. Of those respondents, 38.4% said they 'strongly agree' and 42.6% would 'agree.'
Nearly a quarter of respondents—17.1%—answered ‘strongly disagree’ or ‘disagree’ to the statement “College/school provided access to guidance on career planning.” Similarly, nearly 10% disagreed or strongly disagreed with “College/school provided access to financial aid advising.”
The majority of respondents had plans for primary employment upon graduation—only 326 answered that they had no plans for employment in the upcoming year.
The most common answer was employment in a chain community pharmacy, with 5542 respondents. Over 5000 answered that they had plans to work in a hospital, 2423 planned to work in an independent community pharmacy, and 1966 planned on working in a clinic-based pharmacy.
Very few respondents planned on working in a nonpharmacy related field (81).
Many respondents also planned on pursuing further education in the coming year: 3445 planned on a pharmacy residency program; 361 planned on pursuing a pharmacy PhD program; and 549 said they would pursue a master’s degree. Just 59 said they would pursue a nonpharmacy-related PhD program, and 6380 said they had no plans for further education in the upcoming year.
Overall, the majority of students said they were satisfied with their academic experience and felt prepared to enter the workforce or pursue further education. Perhaps the most encouraging statistic from the report were the answers to the statement “I am prepared to enter pharmacy practice.” Over 93% either agreed or strongly agreed to the statement.
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Graduating Student Survey. AACP website. https://www.aacp.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/2019-gss-national-summary-report_0.pdf. Published July 2019. Accessed August 8, 2019.