No Bachelors? No Problem! How to Become a Pharmacist in 2021

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What is a Doctor of Pharmacy?

A Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) is a professional-level health care degree which is the first step to becoming a licensed pharmacist. If you’re interested in becoming a practicing pharmacist, then this resource is a must-read.

We’ll tell you how you can earn your Pharm.D. at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED)— even if you don’t hold a bachelor’s degree. Let’s get started.

Why Are You Interested in Pharmacy?

The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) is unlike any other health care degree, as you’ll soon discover, but it’s crucial that you consider your “why” behind your interest in the field of pharmacy.

When deciding on a degree path, you should look for a field that reflects your values, preferences, and personal goals. Ask yourself:

  • Will I enjoy working in the field of pharmacy?
  • Will a job in this field challenge me?
  • Do I like caring for patients?
  • Will I be able to contribute to the welfare of others and my community?

Finding a job that satisfies your personal motivation and needs is key to long-term job satisfaction. Economics are important both when considering the cost of a Pharm.D. and when looking forward to the potential earnings a job in pharmacy can produce.

  • Will the degree I earn qualify me for a job that pays well?
  • Will I get a reasonable return-on-investment that allows me to pay off student loans, other education-related debt, and live an enjoyable life?

Trends in the job market also come into play.

  • Are pharmacy jobs in demand?
  • Is the demand expected to grow, or is employment in this field declining?
  • Once I’m established in a job, can I earn additional degrees that can lead to promotions, greater responsibility, and greater earnings?

Let’s explore some of these questions below and help you start your research!

Pharmacy Offers a Unique Health Care Career

Perhaps your perception of a pharmacist evokes an image of a person in a white coat dispensing medication at a retail pharmacy. You may be surprised to learn that pharmacists can specialize in different areas, work in different environments, and perform an array of health care duties.

Today, becoming a pharmacist requires a doctoral degree known as Pharm.D. That program requires you to study several STEM fields — science, computer technology, statistics, chemistry, physics — as well as anatomy and physiology, psychology, and other health care subjects.

Depending on your personal preferences, you may decide to work as a community pharmacist in a retail drug store or independently owned pharmacy. In that role you will dispense medications to retail customers, answer patient questions, administer vaccinations, and serve as the medical professional that patients can visit without an appointment.

Ambulatory care pharmacists are often based in a clinic-based setting, helping to guide therapy selection and working with patients and prescribers to provide comprehensive medication management – looking for ways to optimize medication regimens for all medications – prescription, Over-the-counter, and herbal supplements, too.

Hospital pharmacists may be involved in direct patient care, rounding with physicians and other interprofessional team members, but also may be involved in dispensing medications, working in various subspecialties of oncology medications, investigational drugs, or inventory control.

Industry pharmacists work in yet another arena that can include research, marketing, development of clinical drug trials, quality control, and drug safety, while consultant pharmacists work more directly with insurance companies and health care facilities in a consultative role.

Finally, an informatics pharmacist looks at the data side of pharmacy, playing a cross-functional role between the pharmacist and the way we deliver medications.

Section 6

 

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No Bachelors? No Problem! How to Become a Pharmacist in 2021

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Health Care Careers Pay Well

Your future income, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (in May 2019), reports that pharmacists earned a median salary of $128,090 while the lowest and highest-paid earned $88,400 and $162,900, respectively. Wages at these levels put pharmacists into the top 15 percent of all wage earners

Median salaries also varied by the type of pharmacy job:

$136,320

General merchandise stores (Target, Walmart, etc.)

$132,750

Food and beverage stores (Kroger, Publix, etc.)

$129,740

Hospitals – state, local, and private.

$125,910

Pharmacies and drug stores (Independents, CNS, Walgreens, etc.)

No Bachelor’s Degree Needed:
Pharmacy School Prerequisites

We said earlier that the Pharm.D. degree is unlike any other health care degree, and here’s why. The Pharm.D. is the only advanced health care degree you can earn without first having to go through four or more years of college to earn a bachelor’s degree.

You read that right: you don’t need a bachelor’s degree in order to obtain a Doctor of Pharmacy.

 

Why Pharmacy_MINIs_Years_To_Complete

 

 

Students graduating from high school can apply to the Pharm.D. program without having to struggle through years of education — from high school to bachelor’s degree to master’s degree to doctorate. You can move directly from high school to a doctoral program in pharmacy.

However, the Pharm.D. does require that you take 60 semester hours of pre-professional courses to prepare you for the Pharm.D. curriculum. You’re invited to take those classes at NEOMED, or you can take those classes at any accredited school.

Pharmacy School Pre-Professional Prerequisites

Applicants to the NEOMED pharmacy curriculum are sometimes uncertain about which courses offered at their colleges or universities will fulfill NEOMED’s pharmacy school prerequisites. 

Given that we have applicants from hundreds of colleges and universities each year, it’s difficult to give specific, detailed advice. Therefore, here is our best general advice to you:

You and your pre-health advisor at your current college or university will have the best understanding of the coursework available to you at your school. We suggest you consult your pre-health advisor and select coursework based on what would best prepare you for a clinical, doctoral program of study at a professional health university. 

Coursework from any regionally accredited institution of higher education is acceptable regardless of instructional mode (in-person, online, etc.)

To find out more about pre-requisites for NEOMED, visit the detailed section of the website. But for now, here’s a little bit about the courses you will need:

Anatomy and Physiology Course

Guidance: Students should seek a one semester comprehensive anatomy and physiology (A&P) course of at least three credit hours. If the school only has a two-semester sequence for A&P, we recommend the student takes both to get coverage of all body systems. However, one course would fill the requirement.

3 Semester Hours

Inorganic (General) Chemistry Sequence & Organic Chemistry Sequence

Guidance: The guidance for each of these eight-hour prerequisites is identical. Students should select the two courses that are required in sequence. All courses must include a lab. We expect that students will select from coursework required of science majors or professional clinical school preparation such as pre-medicine study, and we discourage students from selecting courses designed for specialized applied allied health majors, non-science majors, or nursing majors.

Courses with Labs – 8 Semester Hours

Biology & Other Life Sciences Sequence

Guidance: The guidance for each of these eight-hour prerequisites is identical. Students should select the two courses that are required in sequence. All courses must include a lab. We expect that students will select from coursework required of science majors or professional clinical school preparation such as pre-medicine study, and we discourage students from selecting courses designed for specialized applied allied health majors, non-science majors, or nursing majors.

Courses with Labs – 8 Semester Hours

Microbiology Course

Guidance: Students should seek to complete a one semester microbiology course of at least three credit hours. A laboratory component is encouraged, but not required.

3 Semester Hours

General Physics Course

Guidance: Students may select either an algebra-based physics or calculus-based physics course. We expect that students will select from coursework required of science majors or professional clinical school preparation such as pre-medicine study. Non-mathematics-based physics survey courses for non-science majors will not fulfill this competency. 

3 Semester Hours

Biochemistry Course

Guidance: While a one semester Biochemistry course will fulfill the prerequisite requirements, we recommend that students complete a two semester Biochemistry course (three credit hours per semester), and that students will select the Biochemistry course that requires Organic Chemistry I and II as a prerequisite.

3 Semester Hours

Calculus Course

Guidance: There is no specific level of calculus course required. Any course listed in the calculus area of study higher than precalculus will suffice. This may include calculus for mathematics majors, business majors, engineering majors, etc. Calculus placement assumes a high-level mastery of college algebra content, essential to pharmacy success.

3 Semester Hours

Statistics Course

Guidance: Students should complete a statistics course that focuses on the basic understanding of descriptive statistics, statistical methods, and how to perform and interpret basic statistical procedures. We discourage students from choosing a statistics course that is math-based but would encourage a biostatistics course related to the health field.

3 Semester Hours

English Composition

Guidance: To prepare for a career as a professional health practitioner, all candidates must demonstrate excellent proficiency in all forms of English language-based communication, both verbal and written, as evidenced by successful completion of an English Composition I and II sequence. We do not accept literature courses unless they are composition-based, though they can still fulfill the General Education requirement.

6 Semester Hours

General Education and/or Additional Science

Guidance: Any coursework not used to meet another prerequisite may suffice. Students may elect to complete other science coursework in the areas that are helpful for entering the Pharm.D. program such as Biochemistry II, a full-year sequence of Anatomy & Physiology, Immunology, and others.

15 Semester Hours

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Contact us to discuss the most accessible career path in health care — pharmacy!

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Different Paths to the Same Destination

Many paths can lead to your Pharm.D. degree. Let’s break down the steps involved for high school students, college students, and those looking for a career change. 

 

For High School Students

If you’re enrolled in high school, you can apply during your senior year to receive Early Assurance, which means NEOMED gives you a provisional admission to the Pharm.D. program.

NEOMED’s Early Assurance Program also lets you decide when you’ll be ready to begin study in NEOMED’s pharmacy program. You may choose any of the following plans:

  • 2+4. A two-year program of study as an undergraduate student to complete your 60 semester hours of preprofessional prerequisite courses for six years to earn your degree.
  • 3+4. A three-year program of study as an undergraduate student to complete your 60 semester hours of preprofessional prerequisite courses for seven years to earn your degree.
  • 4+4. A four-year program of study as an undergraduate student to complete your 60 semester hours of preprofessional prerequisite courses as part of a four-year bachelor’s degree for eight years to degree.

Who Should Apply?

NEOMED’s Early Assurance program gives students the option to complete the pre-professional coursework at a local college, university, or at NEOMED. We encourage students who have not yet enrolled at an undergraduate college or university to apply. Our typical applicants include:

  • Students who elected College Credit Plus coursework while in high school to accelerate their time-to-goal.
  • Those who want flexibility around when to start pharmacy school.
  • Serious students committed to becoming a pharmacist who seek a clear and easy-to-understand path to reaching that goal.

Find out more detailed information here about test scores, GPA and application requirements. Application deadline: June 1, 2021

Early Assurance for Traditional College Students

You can secure a seat in NEOMED’s College of Pharmacy school as a college freshman or sophomore. Apply to NEOMED during your first or second year of undergraduate work to reserve a seat upon completion of required coursework at your undergraduate institution.

This path is open to students from most any community college, college, or university seeking to complete only the prerequisite courses (60 credit hours) or to complete a four-year degree. Early Assurance is a great alternative for students looking for some curricular flexibility while still having the benefit of a reserved seat in pharmacy school.

Who Should Apply?

We have designed the Early Assurance pathway to pharmacy school at NEOMED for undergraduate students who know they want to pursue a career in pharmacy by obtaining their Pharm.D. degree. Successful candidates may benefit from reserving a seat in pharmacy school and having access to exclusive mentorship opportunities.

We encourage students that have been enrolled at an undergraduate college or university for at least one semester following high school graduation and who have established a GPA by completing at least one semester of college coursework to apply. Our typical applicants include:

  • Students committed to pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy degree through a clear and easy-to-understand path
  • Students with a strong interest in attending NEOMED
  • First or second year college students who have some experience with the pharmacy profession through a co-curricular program such as NEOMED’s Pathways to Pharmacy, have shadowed a pharmacist, or work as a pharmacy technician

Find out more detailed information here about test scores, GPA and application requirements.
Pharm Direct Application deadline: June 1, 2021

For Career Changers

We encourage people looking to change their career path to pharmacy to apply for the Pharm.D. degree. If you have worked in a health care field, it’s likely you’ve already completed some of the 60 hours of pre-professional work that can give you a head start. If you come from another field, you may still find some of the college courses you took can be used. We will consider classes you’ve taken within the past seven years.

The facts outlined above for traditional college students apply equally to those seeking a new career. Upon completing the pre-professional coursework, career changers should apply via PharmCAS.

What to Look For in a Pharmacy School
(Hint: Check Out Their NAPLEX Pass Rate)

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) must accredit all colleges and universities that offer the Pharm.D. degree. The ACPE first accredited NEOMED’s pharmacy programs for the 2010-2011 school year. Today, that accreditation is still in effect and joins accreditations from other agencies including the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

While your personal preferences and economics play a big role in choosing a college for your Pharm.D. degree, the most objective information to consider are the various outcomes past Pharm.D. students have achieved. Favorable outcomes are what students expect from their investment of time, energy, and money, and NEOMED is proud that its Pharm.D. program has served as the launch pad for so many successful pharmacists.


NEOMED Graduation Rates From Pharm.D. Program

  2020 (N=87) 2019 (N=74) 2019 (N-74)
Graduated
in 4 years
83.00% 78.00% 86.00%
Delayed
Graduation
8.00% 11.00% 6.00%
Delayed
Graduation
6.00% 11.00% 8.00%
Graduation
Rate
94.00% 89.00% 92.00%

 

Students working toward their Pharm.D. degree must take and pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX). Scores on NAPLEX relate directly to the effectiveness of the Pharm.D. curriculum, those who teach it, the resources available to students, and the overall learning environment. The NAPLEX pass rate is a measure of those factors. 

NEOMED students have turned in substantially better first-time scores on the exam than local and national averages. Beyond the statistics shown here, NEOMED students have matched or exceeded national NAPLEX pass rates in each of the past 10 years.

 

NAPLEX First-Time Passing Rate

  2019 2018 2017
NEOMED 93.75% 98.75% 92.00%
National 88.34% 89.46% 87.95%
Ohio 92.14% 93.96% 91.26%

 

Being able to find a job once you’ve completed your Pharm.D. degree is the best final assessment of what to look for in a pharmacy school. As you can see, all but a tiny fraction of Pharm.D. graduates found employment as a pharmacist or continued with additional post-grad work. For a national view of demand for pharmacists, visit the Pharmacy Demand Report to learn which geographies have the greatest demand for Pharm.D. graduates.

Job Placement Outcomes

  2019 (n=67) 2018 (n=70) 2017 (n=77)
Practicing as a Pharmacist 64.20% 60.00% 68.80%
Employed in a Pharmacy-Related Field or Position 2.90% 0.00% 2.60%
Post Graduate Education 30.00% 38.60% 23.40%

Placement being sought or unknown

2.90% 1.40% 4.20%
Location      
Ohio 82.10% 90.50% 87.70%
Out of state 7.50% 9.80% 12.30%

How to Get Into Pharmacy School
After You Have Your Prerequisites

Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) gives you a structured way to apply for the Pharm.D. Visit PharmCAS to begin the application process.

NEOMED recommends that Pharm.D. applicants meet the following minimum qualifications.

  • Present an overall college GPA of at least 2.5 for interview consideration (as determined by PharmCAS calculations).
  • Present a science GPA of at least 2.5 (as determined by PharmCAS calculations).
  • Earn no grade lower than a C- in any course intended to fulfill a prerequisite.
  • Complete the required 60 semester hours of prerequisite coursework prior to matriculating. We encourage candidates to apply for admission early and interview while prerequisite coursework is in progress.
  • Show interest in the pharmacy profession through extracurricular activities, employment, or volunteer experience.
  • Demonstrate leadership skills and abilities.

What Makes a Stellar Pharm.D. Candidate?

Pharmacy school at NEOMED is designed for students with an interest in advancing community health in Northeast Ohio and beyond. 

Our typical applications include those who are interested in:

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BECOMING LEADERS IN THE EMERGING FIELD OF PHARMACY AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE HEALTH CARE TEAM
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ADVANCING COMMUNITY HEALTH IN COMMUNITY PHARMACY OR CLINICAL SETTINGS THROUGH NEOMED’S DISTINCTIVE RESIDENCY TRACK
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DEVELOPING SKILLS OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM AT ONE OF NEOMED’S HUNDREDS OF CLINICAL PRACTICE SITES THROUGHOUT NORTHEAST OHIO
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CHANGING THE LIVES OF THE COMMUNITIES THEY SERVE, PARTICULARLY MEDICALLY UNDERSERVED AREAS WHERE THEY CAN MAKE THE GREATEST IMPACT ON PATIENTS’ LIVES
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CHALLENGING THEMSELVES WITH INTERPROFESSIONAL COURSEWORK AND HANDS-ON EXPERIENCES DESIGNED TO PREPARE THEM TO EXCEL AS PROFESSIONALS AT THE TOP OF THEIR PHARMACY LICENSE.

Click here to learn more about the expectations and skills you must have to succeed in the Pharm.D. program!

What About My GPA?

You might be wondering, “How to get into pharmacy school with a lower GPA?” NEOMED reviews every applicant and offers interviews to those who qualify. Your GPA is one of the most important factors we look at, but you may still be admitted if your GPA is below 2.7.

Your work history, experiences, and other accomplishments — such as taking chemistry, microbiology, and similar science courses — may improve your chances of being admitted.

Finally, while NEOMED no longer uses the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), if you have taken the test and scored well, be sure to include your score as part of your application.

You Have Your Pharm.D. — Now What?

A career in pharmacy gives Pharm.D. holders access to a variety of jobs ranging from community practice to providing consultative services. According to PharmacyForMe.org, the career paths for pharmacists fall into these divisions, but are not exclusive to:

  • Community Pharmacies
  • Independent pharmacy
  • Community health centers
  • Veterinary pharmacy
  • Compounding pharmacies
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Hospitals
  • University Professor
  • Long term care facilities
  • In-home health care agencies
  • Government
  • Mail order pharmacies

Each of these diverse career paths connects you with other health care workers and patients, and each gives you a constellation of things to enjoy on a daily basis. Which one is right for you?

Start Your Professional Degree in Health Care at Northeast Ohio Medical University

The College of Pharmacy at NEOMED provides multiple pathways for students interested in becoming a pharmacist through our Pharm.D. degree program.

Students graduating from this program will have:

  • A strong interprofessional education to provide a team-oriented approach to patient care.
  • An understanding of and experience with the diverse patients to whom they will administer care.
  • Skills necessary to provide patients with medication therapy management services.
  • An opportunity to apply for and complete a pharmacy residency.

A career in pharmacy is unique because it appeals to everyone differently. Each career path offers different ways to motivate you and capture your passion. Contact NEOMED’s College of Pharmacy to learn more about the Pharm.D. curriculum and to explore your future career as a pharmacist!

 

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