High School Students
A career in pharmacy is innovative and exciting, with new roles and opportunities emerging as our healthcare system evolves to meet the changing needs of patients. In addition to their traditional role in community pharmacies, pharmacists have careers in all areas of public and private health care and medical research.
The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) Professional Program is an upper division program, which means that students typically complete two years of coursework before entering the four-year professional program — for a total of six years. Pre-pharmacy is not a major, but rather, the title given to the first two years of prerequisite coursework. UConn pre-pharmacy students are assigned to specific advisors in the Academic Center for Exploratory Students who help them to prepare for entrance into the School of Pharmacy. Students following academic tracks other than pre-pharmacy may also apply to the Pharm.D. Program, provided that they meet the requirements for submitting an application. Students typically apply for admission to the School of Pharmacy after completing their third semester of study, for entry into the professional program the following fall.
The school has joined with the Department of Residential Life to create a pre-pharmacy living-and-learning community, a small cluster of 20 to 25 first year resident students who live, study, and learn together. The students have a First Year Experience course that covers the basic university learning skills, but with a focus on pharmacy. Current Pharm.D. students act as mentors. Some pre-pharmacy students choose to join pharmacy student organizations and fraternities. These programs help connect the pre-pharmacy students to the school and may provide motivation to excel in their prerequisite courses.
Once accepted into the School of Pharmacy, students must successfully complete the four-year professional program to earn a Pharm.D. degree. The Pharm.D. is not a graduate degree, but rather, a professional degree, such as those earned by attorneys [JD] or doctors [MD] and is the only degree that will allow the graduate to become a licensed, practicing pharmacist. At the end of the second professional year (or fourth year at UConn) the University confers a Bachelor of Pharmacy Studies degree to students who successfully meet the requirements. Students are not eligible to sit for the pharmacy licensing exam until they complete the final two years of the professional program and earn the Pharm.D. degree.
How Can You Prepare To Be A Pharmacy Student?
If you think that you might be interested in a career in pharmacy, the following suggestions may be helpful:
- Meet with a high school guidance counselor to ensure that all proper courses are being taken, and to assist with the college search process.
- Take beneficial classes in high school such as:
- Get involved outside of the classroom to develop leadership and time-management skills
• upper-level science courses (i.e. chemistry, biology, physics, etc.) as well as pre-calculus and/or calculus
• three years of a single foreign language
• any classes that emphasize communication skills, both written and oral
• AP and college cooperative classes taken in high school that fulfill UConn general education requirements
[Must earn a 4 or 5 in AP courses.]
• try to gain pharmacy-related experience
• have a part-time job
• participate in extracurricular activities such as athletics, organizations, and clubs
The School of Pharmacy participates in both of the university sponsored open house events each year. Prospective students that are just beginning their college search are especially encouraged to attend the fall open house. This is the best opportunity to learn about the admissions process, financial aid, housing and student life, and to attend informational-sessions specific to area(s) of interest. The pharmacy informational sessions generally address topics such as preparation at the high school level, what to expect in college, the pre-pharmacy and the professional programs at UConn, and life after graduation. The spring open house is specifically intended for high school seniors who have been accepted to the university and are planning to attend in the fall. More information on these open houses can be found on the Lodewick Visitor’s Center Website.
If you have any questions regarding the University of Connecticut application or would like to apply to the university, you should contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office at: (860) 486-3137, Beahusky@UConn.edu, or University of Connecticut, Admissions Office, 2131 Hillside Road, Unit-3088, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-3088.
What lies beyond Pharm.D. Graduation?
After earning the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree, the graduate must pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination® (NAPLEX®) before they can become a licensed practicing pharmacist. The NAPLEX is a national exam that has been developed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) to assess the graduate’s competence to practice pharmacy. Graduates from the University of Connecticut Doctor of Pharmacy Program have a very high first-time pass rate of approximately 98%.
In addition to national licensure, pharmacists need to be certified in the state in which they practice. Although every state varies in their requirements for certification, (check with the NABP for your state’s requirements) many states, like Connecticut, require the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination® (MPJE®). The MPJE combines federal and state-specific law questions to serve as the state law examination. Graduates from the University of Connecticut Doctor of Pharmacy Program have a very high first-time pass rate at about 96%
Areas of Pharmacy Practice
Career opportunities in pharmacy extend far beyond the community pharmacy counter. Opportunities are available in such varied areas as:
- Hospital Emergency Room
- Home Care / Hospice n Med Van
- Poison Control
- Military / Public Health
- Veterinary Pharmacy
- Nuclear Pharmacy
- Consulting Pharmacy
- Biopharmaceutical Research – (genetic research to develop more effective medication with fewer side-effects)
For more information on careers in pharmacy, visit the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy website.
Many graduates continue their education by applying for a residency — Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) postgraduate training that typically lasts 12 months or longer and leads to the specialization in an area of pharmacy practice. Residencies can include study in a variety of areas including geriatrics, community practice, pediatrics, critical care, forensics, oncology, etc.
By meeting academic and experiential qualifications outlined on the Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties website. Doctors of Pharmacy can become board-certified in one of the five following specialty areas:
- Nuclear Pharmacy: compound radioactive pharmaceuticals for diagnostic purposes
- Pharmacotherapy: responsibilities include ensuring the safe, economical, and appropriate use of drugs for patients
- Nutrition Support Pharmacy: providing diet and medication for patients with special needs
- Oncological Pharmacy: Chemotherapy and related cancer treatments
- Psychiatric Pharmacy: monitoring medicinal treatments as they relate to various complex mental conditions
Typical UConn Graduates
A sample profile of one of our graduating classes:
The majority, about 65%, of UConn School of Pharmacy graduates go directly into community pharmacy practice. About 20% seek employment at a hospital. The remaining 15% pursue further specialization in residency or other programs.