Should Pharmacy Students Be Required to Have a Bachelor's?

A recent essay begs the question of whether students should obtain a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite to pharmacy school.

A recent essay begs the question of whether students should obtain a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite to pharmacy school.

Kristopher Harrell, PharmD, from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy argues that it would be beneficial for 4 reasons.

In his essay published in the The American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, Dr. Harrell cited a colleague named Adam Pete who he said believed pharmacy education was entering an era of evolution. However, they differed on how they should go about adapting to it.

“I would assert, however, that now is not the time for us to reduce pre-professional requirements, but instead to augment them and potentially require a bachelor’s degree prior to entry into the professional pharmacy program,” Dr. Harrell wrote.

He gave 4 reasons for this:

1. Earning a bachelor’s degree is predictive of academic success in pharmacy school.

· Studies have shown that students who receive a Bachelor of Science degree and take advanced biology classes are more likely to have higher grade point averages.

2. The change would allow pharmacy students to be held to the same standards as other health care professions.

· Students interested in medical, physical therapy programs, nurse practitioners, and physician assistant schooling always or most likely require a bachelor’s degree.

3. The move would allow for new standards in pharmacy education related to enhanced personal and professional development skills.

· Students may have more maturity, and they will have more time to develop characteristics like leadership, self-awareness, empathy, motivation, attention, and interest if they pursue a bachelor’s degree.

4. There would be more uniformity, which would mean less competition for admissions.

· Having all pharmacy schools require a bachelor’s degree would create more consistency.

“If the preprofessional requirements were more unified, this would decrease competitiveness and provide a more standardized preparation and entry into the profession,” Dr. Harrell said.

Despite all these reasons for requiring a bachelor’s degree, Dr. Harrell did recognize that “academic fatigue” and tuition costs were areas of concern for students.

While students will face increased costs, he argued that pharmacists are some of the highest-paid health care professionals.

“Our profession needs more grit, and we need to strengthen and maintain a reputation of training that aligns with other health care professions,” he concluded.