University of Southern California School of Pharmacy


Pharmacy students attending the University of Southern California (USC) School of Pharmacy don't need to worry about being adequately prepared to work in the field after graduation.

Los Angeles, California

Founded: 1905

Class size: Around 180

Pharmacy students attending the University of Southern California (USC) School of Pharmacy don’t need to worry about being adequately prepared to work in the field after graduation.

US News & World Report ranks USC as the top private pharmacy school in the United States, and it is also listed in the top 10 pharmacy schools overall.

Dean Glen L. Stimmel, PharmD, BCPP, told Pharmacy Times that the campus places a strong focus on research, interdisciplinary experiences, and exposure to a broad range of populations and health issues.

While pursuing their PharmD degree, students interested in dual or joint degrees can earn an MBA, MPH, JD, PhD, or MS in regulatory science, health care decision analysis, global health, or gerontology.

“At USC, we see today’s changing health care environment as a tremendous opportunity for our profession and our students,” Dr. Stimmel said. “We believe the pharmacy profession is uniquely prepared to fill a gap in care for our country, and we are educating our students to be health care leaders and the medication experts on the health care team.”

Q: What is unique about your school/program?

A: Historically, USC pioneered the nation’s first PharmD program, and we have retained a reputation for innovation in education, clinical practice, health policy, and research. Our nationally recognized work in safety-net clinics allows us to advance the profession by proving the value of new models of care using the pharmacist as the medication expert on the heath care team.

The school’s clinical faculty pursues clinical practice in a range of settings and specializations, giving students opportunities in every facet of care. The school also owns and operates 5 pharmacies.

In addition, we recognize the need to actively engage elected officials and the public in understanding the role of the pharmacist and how it can improve health outcomes while saving health care dollars. Our school leadership, faculty, and students were instrumental in the passage of California Senate Bill 493, which recognizes pharmacists as health care providers and is model legislation for the nation.

We will also soon be the only pharmacy school in outer space, as one of our drug discovery experiments will blast off to the International Space Station later this year.

Q: What is the teaching style or philosophy?

A: While classroom lectures to the entire class are a necessary part of the curriculum, the USC School of Pharmacy has continued to increase small group conferences and group assignments.

Health care today is a collaborative practice, and our curriculum mirrors that perspective. Students have come to pharmacy school from the competitive perspective of their undergraduate programs, and they must adjust to our curriculum that shifts their focus from competing to collaborating with their classmates.

Q: What are some community outreach activities or programs the school participates in?

A: Community outreach activities are varied and vast, spanning clinical care, mentoring, and advocacy.

USC School of Pharmacy students participate in approximately 25 health fairs each year, providing screenings for cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure, and osteoporosis. They also provide flu shots and education on pressing health needs, including HIV/AIDS, mental health issues, and safe sex.

Students also operate a weekly clinic in a local community pharmacy where they see patients for screenings, brown bag reviews, and immunizations. When appropriate, they refer patients to area clinics for follow-up.

Each fall, students hold Medicare Part D sessions to help seniors select the right program for their needs.

One student group also holds weekly sessions in a juvenile detention center, educating the residents on drug abuse, safe sex, and making good life choices.

Globally, students do quarterly outreach trips to Mexico where they conduct health screenings and provide patient education. They have also participated in projects in Belize, India, Ghana, among other locales.

Students also volunteer in safety-net clinics throughout southern California, giving them an opportunity to develop cultural competencies while serving diverse populations.

A: More than 50% of practicing pharmacists in southern California are USC graduates, making for extraordinary networking opportunities that lead to internships and ultimately full-time employment.

USC alumni in various settings are actively involved with our students in helping them secure opportunities to explore various practice areas while they are still in school and also land great jobs when they graduate.

USC is known for its Trojan Family, and the Pharmacy Trojan Family dynamically pairs students with alumni and friends in scores of activities and events throughout each school year. These include networking sessions, case competitions, career and job fairs, resume and interview sessions, seminars, and social functions.

Q: What advice do you have for students who will graduate this year?

A: The USC School of Pharmacy’s curricular priority is to allow students to experience a variety of opportunities within pharmacy practice, while still providing a solid foundation of professional practice knowledge and skills. Given those experiences, you should reflect on which type of pharmacy practice generates the most excitement and passion, and just as important, which types of pharmacy practice are not what you wish to do in your career.

Do not be discouraged when your first job is not your ideal job. The first job is the one that is available at the moment of graduation and is often not the ideal job.

Your ideal job is your second job—the one that you choose after 1 year, or maybe several years.

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