Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

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annabel
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Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by annabel »

Hi,

My son is a senior in highschool and got accepted into 7 pharmacy schools. These 7 schools rank from top 20 to top 70. They are all (2+4) Early Assurance PharmD program which means if he maintains certain GPA and passes PCAT in the first two years (pre professional years) then he will be in the program automatically without reapplying. One of the schools doesn't require PCAT. Two of them accept him into the Honor College and he didn't even apply for them.

Does the school ranking matter much for pharmacy school in term of getting a job six years later? How should he decide which one to attend?

I know some of you will suggest him study something else because pharmacists are not in high demand any more. It is ok. This is what he wants.

Thanks for any input in advance.
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Blister
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Blister »

If he is considering any type of academic career the more prestigious schools would be better. But if he is just interested in getting a job I don't feel that it would matter very much. I would be interested to see what others think.
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rxjayhawk
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by rxjayhawk »

It depends on what he wants to do post grad. If he wants to practice pharmacy (retail) then it doesn't make a big difference (think about Cost and pass rate on boards). If he wants to specialize (pharmacoeconomics, residency, pharmaceutical industry etc) then he needs to consider post grad programs affiliated with the school, connections in the industry, school ranking, location etc.

If he doesn't know yet then pick the best school that he can afford.
boglephreak
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by boglephreak »

i think location plays a very large part in the decision-making process. my wife is a pharmacist so i know a lot of pharmacists through her. one of the biggest factors in determining their abilities to get jobs appeared to be where they did their rotations during school. a lot of them ended up in places where they did their rotations after graduation. it just makes sense, you are going to hire someone you know and have seen work over someone you have never seen before who may come from a "better" school. so, i would suggest your son look at schools where he wants to live and practice after graduation.

my wife also says that pharmacy rankings dont matter.

also, i dont know about the demand for pharmacists, but all of her friends got jobs so they are available. who knows what the case will be in six years. also, she is paid well, has good job satisfaction (she is retail) and its a highly respected profession (its also voted highly on people the general public trust the most). she is happy despite the fact that she works retail and has to deal with customers.
ved
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by ved »

Disclaimer: I do not know much (or anything) about pharmacy program.

In general, a higher ranking school is better than a lower ranking school.
A 20th ranked school is better than the 70th ranked school.
With that said, if it was a choice between #20 and #25, then both are close enough.
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Jazztonight
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Jazztonight »

I graduated from a top-tier optometry school (I just checked, and it's still rated number 1). Then I moved to a distant state where virtually none of the graduates were from even the top five schools. It didn't matter a bit where you graduated from. If you had a license to practice, and you just wanted to work in the field, the license, not the school, is what mattered. I have a strong feeling it's the same with pharmacy.

UNLESS a grad wants to work in academia. Then the school really matters a lot. Had I wanted to get an advanced degree and teach, my alma mater would have counted a lot.

My advice is that if your son wants to be a working pharmacist, consider going to the best school that is the most reasonable cost-wise. If he wants to be a professor, go for the most prestigious programs.

Good luck and congratulations to him and your family.
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Nietzsche
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bottlecap
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by bottlecap »

I have a good friend whose son went to Pharmacy school. He was concerned about the rankings of the schools.

I think in any high-paying profession, school ranking makes a difference. How much of a difference depends on who you want to work for when you get out.

JT
ChampCamp
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by ChampCamp »

I agree with all that's been said. I would add that prospective employers could weigh school choice into hiring decisions. In southern California, there are several local schools but the top ranked ones (UCSF and USC) are seen as head-and-shoulders above the rest and thus there is a stigma on students not from either of these schools. In my own experience, once the transformation from student to employee is complete, work history trumps college choice.

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Loik098
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Loik098 »

I'm a pharmacist who hires other pharmacists for a large chain. While I cannot speak to whether rankings matter for those pharmacists who plan to work in hospitals or in other specialties, I will tell you that rankings make little to no difference in the retail sector....primarily because as hiring managers, we don't know (or care to keep up with) the rankings ourselves. Rankings also tell me very little about your son.

What we do know in retail is that students from certain schools (usually the newer ones that just recently opened) are sometimes under-prepared when compared to those who graduate from more established programs. We know this because we see these students during their rotations, and their lack of drug knowledge can be scary. If you can't answer the majority of my "softball" questions as a 3rd- or 4th-year student, I don't care how good you are with people, I'm not hiring you.

That said, we still have bright students come from new schools and dim-witted students come from top schools....it's just that those students who are graduating from new programs will probably have to prove themselves more in a cold interview. Beyond that, the biggest obstacles we face in our interviews are pharmacists who have a lack of common sense, have poor leadership abilities, have unreasonable scheduling/work expectations, or are just generally arrogant. We have plenty of new grads eager to apply and pay back their loans and don't need to hire high-maintenance pharmacists. Similar to the medical profession, the days where a pharmacist can act like a god are coming to an end, and the sooner pharmacists (especially retail ones) realize this, the better off they will be.

My suggestion would be for your son to focus on controlling the amount of loans he takes out, and to ensure that he has a humble, willing attitude to learn. These skills will help him go farther in life than will the ranking of his school.
Teague
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Teague »

"... We have plenty of new grads eager to apply and pay back their loans and don't need to hire high-maintenance pharmacists. Similar to the medical profession, the days where a pharmacist can act like a god are coming to an end, and the sooner pharmacists (especially retail ones) realize this, the better off they will be."
It sounds like the sooner they realize this, the better off their hiring manager will be.

"My suggestion would be for your son to focus on controlling the amount of loans he takes out, and to ensure that he has a humble, willing attitude to learn. These skills will help him go farther in life than will the ranking of his school."

Yes, be humble, willing, subservient. Everyone who completes costly years of rigorous advanced training aspires to spend 30+ years being just like that.
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noraz123
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by noraz123 »

I'd recommend that the your son go to the college that is most interesting/best fit for him.

What if he decides two years now that he doesn't want to be a pharmacist? Will the school's other majors be attractive to him?

Does the school offer extracurricular activities that are of interest to him? Even if he doesn't play sports, does he want to attend college sporting events?

Does the geographical location matter (weather? near city? near home? public transportation?)

Do the students at the school that match well with your son?

I think most of these aspects are as important, or more important, than the ranking of the pharmacy department.

Moreover, even if your son wants to be a pharmacist upon graduating, he may want to attend a different school/location.
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Pajamas
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Pajamas »

Setting aside any issue of employability, there is probably a significant difference in the quality and experience of learning between a school ranked 20 and one ranked 70 but not so much difference between one ranked 20 and one ranked 25. There are about 136 pharmacy schools in the U.S., so one ranked 20 is in the top 15% while one ranked 70 is in the bottom 50%.

What are the criteria used in the particular ranking? Some ranking systems use peer rankings by faculty from the schools and others use data such as admission test scores, acceptance rate, and graduation rate. There is probably a high degree of correlation between the various ranking systems, but you can get more useful information from the detailed ranking lists that give a breakdown of the scores.

Size of school, location, cost after financial aid, whether aid is loans or scholarships, etc. are other important factors to consider. For instance, there are schools that have less than 50 students and schools that have more than 2,000 students. They would provide very different experiences.

http://www.aacp.org/about/Pages/Vitalstats.aspx

Something else to consider might be NAPLEX pass rates.

https://nabp.pharmacy/wp-content/upload ... s_2015.pdf
PharmerBrown
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by PharmerBrown »

I have been on the administrative side of hospital pharmacy for many years now and I can't say it matters. We have a lot of Pharmacy Schools in Pennsylvania and we take students from most of them. There is a definite difference in the average quality of the students from certain schools but the top 5% of students are equivalent. Hence, the difference is more due to the quality of the student admitted than the quality of the program. There are a lot of newer schools due to the recent boom and shortage projections, and they struggle to fill their programs with quality applicants. The average final-year pharmacy student is weaker today than 10 years ago. The top 10% are every bit as good and that is what we are looking for when we fill positions and residency spots. Your son can fulfill his goals regardless of the school he chooses.
Others have noted and I will reiterate - affordability is very important. We are seeing a lot of students coming out of school with 2-300K in loans. The profession has an excellent starting salary but it doesn't have a high top end so those loans weigh very heavily on a new pharmacist.
Also, I'm not sure how much faith I have in those U.S News rankings. Pick a larger school with a long, strong history. The alumni connections alone can be very valuable. After all, pharmacy is a very small world.
awval999
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by awval999 »

Hospital pharmacist here on the residency committee.

1. Exclude any school that has opened after the year 2000.
2. Of the remainder pick the school that will allow your son to graduate with the least amount of student loans.

Make sure he realizes that retail pharmacy is soul crushing and the only way to a hospital position now is through a post-graduate residency.

I would still do it all over again. But I realize that I am lucky.
Pinotage
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Pinotage »

awval999 wrote: 1. Exclude any school that has opened after the year 2000.
2. Of the remainder pick the school that will allow your son to graduate with the least amount of student loans.

Make sure he realizes that retail pharmacy is soul crushing and the only way to a hospital position now is through a post-graduate residency.
Agreed.

Also echo the sentiment to choose a school with other appealing majors. The realities and limitations of a career in pharmacy are often out of focus before and even during professional school. He may change his mind.
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sdsailing
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by sdsailing »

I'm a some time academic, not a pharmacist.

I would look at the institution as an undergraduate institution, not just a pharmacy school. Look at the rankings as a university. Also look at the his 'fit' to the undergraduate culture, just as for a regular 4 year program. That way, if he changes his mind, he can go on and get a B.A. or B.S. in a science field or something else, and transition smoothly into that.

Whether or not he chooses pharmacy, I would rank person fit to the school over rank (within reason).
Loik098
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Loik098 »

Teague wrote:"... We have plenty of new grads eager to apply and pay back their loans and don't need to hire high-maintenance pharmacists. Similar to the medical profession, the days where a pharmacist can act like a god are coming to an end, and the sooner pharmacists (especially retail ones) realize this, the better off they will be."
It sounds like the sooner they realize this, the better off their hiring manager will be.

"My suggestion would be for your son to focus on controlling the amount of loans he takes out, and to ensure that he has a humble, willing attitude to learn. These skills will help him go farther in life than will the ranking of his school."

Yes, be humble, willing, subservient. Everyone who completes costly years of rigorous advanced training aspires to spend 30+ years being just like that.
Well of course. You make my job of hiring easy, I give you a job. You make me wonder if you're going to cause problems, you probably don't get a job. And I think it's pretty obvious that students will find more willing teachers and preceptors when they don't come in thinking they know everything.

edited to remove off-topic comment
Last edited by Loik098 on Wed Jan 18, 2017 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Wildebeest
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Wildebeest »

If you want go to pharmacy school, I guess rankings matters.

Have you asked him why he wants to go to pharmacy school?

Do you think what he tells you makes sense?

That is all I would care about.
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inbox788
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by inbox788 »

sdsailing wrote:I'm a some time academic, not a pharmacist.

I would look at the institution as an undergraduate institution, not just a pharmacy school. Look at the rankings as a university. Also look at the his 'fit' to the undergraduate culture, just as for a regular 4 year program. That way, if he changes his mind, he can go on and get a B.A. or B.S. in a science field or something else, and transition smoothly into that.

Whether or not he chooses pharmacy, I would rank person fit to the school over rank (within reason).
I thought a college degree is usually required to begin pharmacy school.

IMO, the pharmacy school ranking and prestige matter, but so will your ranking. It's a tradeoff between being a top 10% graduate at a lesser school vs a lesser student at a top 10% program. Go to the best program you can where you will succeed (i.e. expect to graduate towards the top).
RogerWilco
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by RogerWilco »

awval999 wrote:Hospital pharmacist here on the residency committee.

1. Exclude any school that has opened after the year 2000.
2. Of the remainder pick the school that will allow your son to graduate with the least amount of student loans.

Make sure he realizes that retail pharmacy is soul crushing and the only way to a hospital position now is through a post-graduate residency.

I would still do it all over again. But I realize that I am lucky.

+1 to the above..... an established state University pharmacy program should provide the knowledge required and, if in state, at a cost that may be more affordable
tl24
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by tl24 »

I would have to agree with most of the other pharmacists here (I am one as well) - that it does not really matter. I agree with picking the school that he would enjoy and would come out with the least amount of loans.

Of note, if he ends up liking academia, clinical pharmacy, or industry (although I am under the assumption that most non-pharmacists don't know these jobs exist), then it may matter a bit more. Most of these jobs require residency or fellowship training, which ultimately requires good grades, strong letters of recommendations, and some extracurricular activities.
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annabel
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by annabel »

Thank you very much for all the inputs. I sure have learned a lot from reading them.

It is a tough question to find out which school best fits my son before attending the school. Among the 8 schools he got accepted, 3 are state schools (New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island). And the other 5 are more health focus private schools which located in MA, NY, and PA. All the private ones offer him scholarship between $16,000 to $22,500 per year. One of the 5 private schools actually is only 20 minutes from our house. It will be the cheapest one for him to go with the scholarship they offer. Although we live in New York the tuition for the state schools in New Jersey and Rhode Island will be similar to what we will pay in New York except the first two years which are considered undergraduate and they are cheap for New York residents. All these 8 schools are very old and all have higher than 90% pass rate for NAPLES.

After reading all the inputs, I think the state schools might work better just in case my son changes his mind later. It is tough for an 18 year old to decide what he wants to do with his life. And it is hard for me to decide how to spend my hard earned money on him ;)

My next question is how do we figure out out which schools will help him most if he wants to do residency post graduate? I hope to get some answers from you guys.

Thanks again for all the answers you have provided.
sleepwell
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by sleepwell »

My daughter is a pharmacist working in the retail sector. She graduated two years ago and had no problem finding a job. She applied to five pharmacy schools of varying sizes and lengths of established programs, and was accepted at all of them. She chose to attend a smaller, newer program (which was accredited). She commuted an hour each way and chose to live at home to save money. The smaller school provided an excellent education to her. Access to the professors was easy if she had questions. The smaller venue meant that the instructors knew the students quite well. They also knew which students were the worker bees and which ones merely talked a good game. They knew which students worked well with others and which students presented personality challenges (arrogance, laziness, etc.) when in groups.

Only a few people in my daughter's class chose to do residencies. Those who did wanted positions in limited areas, such as pediatric oncology.

More important than the ranking of any school is the experience the student chooses to derive from his/her opportunities. The students in my daughter's graduating class all passed their pharmacy boards. The hard workers were able to find jobs in locations they wanted, but that wasn't the case for those who had a different mind set. Some had to re-locate or accept jobs with schedules which were undesirable. Pharmacy is indeed a small world and word gets around quickly as to whether a person is a good fit for a particular job or if that person would be the bad apple poisoning an entire department.

When your child goes on rotations, he needs to work hard. Someone said in an earlier post that the rotations are important. The preceptors will remember if a student works hard or slacks off. Even if that preceptor has no job to offer, he might have one in the future or know someone who does.

Advise your child that his attitude and willingness to work hard, to be reliable, and to treat his fellow man with respect (even if he feels that sometimes they don't deserve it) will help him achieve his goals. This holds true with most careers, no matter which field.

Good luck to him.
vesalius
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by vesalius »

awval999 wrote:Hospital pharmacist here on the residency committee.

1. Exclude any school that has opened after the year 2000.
2. Of the remainder pick the school that will allow your son to graduate with the least amount of student loans.

Make sure he realizes that retail pharmacy is soul crushing and the only way to a hospital position now is through a post-graduate residency.

I would still do it all over again. But I realize that I am lucky.
My dad was a pharmacist and I was as well, agree with all of the above. Find the lower cost options then allow your son to choose among them for whatever reason makes him happy. School rank is arbitrary and in the real world outside of the very small slice of academic pharmacist, no one else cares or keeps up with it. Medical School is largely the same. Location of the school can matter based simply off networking and word of mouth to find jobs in the area.
Zecht
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Zecht »

It matters if he decides to do pharmacology, R&D, or any kind of major academic or economic work within the industry. For retail pharmacists and pharmacy administrators only the pass rates (NAPLEX, etc.) matter.
Teague
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Teague »

The following are some very broad, but I believe accurate, generalities about pharmacy education and subsequent employment. There are certainly exceptions, but as a general rule:

Pharmacy educators are looking for students that are bright, creative independent thinkers. They want innovators. They see pharmacists as "dispensers of knowledge" and providers of "pharmaceutical care." They call each other "doctor" a lot, but no one else does. They see the role of the physician as one who diagnoses, and the role of the pharmacist as one who takes this diagnosis and uses it to prescribe and provide "pharmaceutical care." They have been working on this ideal for about 60 years, and progress toward their vision has been limited and excruciatingly slow.

Pharmacy employers are looking for bright individuals who have limited independent thought and limited aspirations. They like fast keyboard skills - the better to enter and review orders. (The orders are still not generated by "pharmaceutical care" pharmacists, with a few exception under strict protocols, e.g. diabetes management, anticoagulation clinics, intravenous nutrition, and similar areas that can be reduced to formulaic procedures.) They like employees that don't stir the pot and keep their noses to the grindstone. (Retail pharmacy is a particularly abrasive grindstone.) The last thing these employers want is someone trying to innovate, particularly on their shift. They also call each other "doctor" a lot, and like the educators, no one else does. Except maybe their mothers.

There are a lot of pharmacists out there who went through the years education without realizing the above dissonance. You might see the blood drain from their faces once they make the switch from student to employee, and realize that time in those courses in pharmacokinetics and physical chemistry (Vmax and Km anyone?) would have been better spent in a keyboarding class at the local junior college.

Of course, the money is pretty good, particularly to start. But, as already noted, there is usually little room for advancement. Please make sure your son understands the above.
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Hukedonfonix4me
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Hukedonfonix4me »

"Not if you work retail"

source- pharmacist in the house who works retail
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tl24
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by tl24 »

annabel wrote:My next question is how do we figure out out which schools will help him most if he wants to do residency post graduate? I hope to get some answers from you guys.

Thanks again for all the answers you have provided.
For residency, I honestly still do not think where you went is nearly as important as what you did and how you performed. The residency application process (having gone through it and now reviewing them) typically includes 2-3 letters of recommendations (typically are from clinical preceptors, faculty, and/or pharmacist co-workers if he works throughout school), a cover letter, CV, and school transcript. I assume all schools have the ability to send their students to rigorous clinical rotations - which can lead to strong letters of recommendations.

Where you went can become a factor in how you perform - for example, some programs are now requiring a presentation or a short test of clinical questions. Again, it will be student specific on how he/she performs. Essentially, my opinion is that all schools can give you the knowledge - but application of that knowledge is dependent on the individual.
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annabel
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by annabel »

Hi,

I have two more questions. What do pharmacists do in the pharmaceutical industry? What do pharmacists do in the hospitals? I can guess but I would like to hear from the people who are familiar with it.

Thank you.
doug4523
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by doug4523 »

My wife and I are both pharmacists about 9 years out of school. Like others above, I concur it doesn't matter too much if the goal is retail pharmacy, and probably hospital pharmacy as well unless a clinical position is desired and then it's dependent on the residency program. Maybe things have changed a little since we graduated as far as demand, but I felt pretty strongly at the time that I should have gone to a cheaper school 5 miles away. The student loans really weighed us down for a while. I'd say if he wants to do a "regular" pharmacy job like retail or staff pharmacist at a hospital, focus more on cost/location/pass rates. It's probably too early for him to know what he wants to do with a pharmacy degree so it's probably safe to assume he would fall into what 90% probably end up doing, retail/hospital.

I had planned on doing retail when I went into pharmacy school, but then ended up doing my interning at a major hospital and then had my first pharmacist job. During my time there I held multiple roles, ranging from night shift (9pm-7am 7 on 7 off), float, IV room, outpatient oncology clinic, etc. Then a position opened on the IT side of things for a pharmacist, so I took that. Now I'm a IT consultant who works on healthcare software all day and haven't used my pharmacy license in over 5 years. My point is I thought I'd be doing retail when I was 18 but just 4 years after graduating I wasn't even a "real pharmacist" anymore. So unless he is positive he wants to do something outside the "norm" I wouldn't recommend placing too much importance on ranking. I'd place more importance on a balance of cost/location/convenience factor. Then just focus on excelling within the program.

As far as your most recent question, a hospital pharmacist can do a variety of things. This is also dependent on location and how many pharmacist the hospital decides to staff. The hospital I worked at when I started interning had about 1 pharmacist responsible for 4-6 floors. By the time I graduated and started working as a pharmacist, it was closer to a 1:1 ratio. That meant that the pharmacist on the floor could spend a lot more time per patient, which meant they did things like meet with each patient before they were discharged and went over all the medications they would be taking when they got home. Talked about side effects, etc. They would also round with doctors and the medical team each morning and would provide input/dosing suggestions. They would also be responsible for verifying all orders for the patients on their floor. Other pharmacists in the hospital would be more responsible for the dispensing part of it, like checking each med against the order to make sure the right med is being sent up. Also some will work in the "IV room" which is where all the medications that are infused are made. In the evening there is less staff so there is more responsibility on just getting things verified and up to the floor to make sure there isn't a delay in treatment. Lastly, there is an overnight shift where there is very limited coverage and one pharmacist will cover the entire hospital. Bigger hospitals maybe 2-3. New graduates in larger hospitals generally have to start out on the evening or night shift.

Of course hospitals have pharmacy management too, so that is another path in a hospital pharmacy. And Clinical Specialists. Can't say as much about what they do but for the most part they have more contact with the doctors and generally speaking aren't involved with verifying/dispensing. You also need to do a residency (1-2 years) to become a specialist. During those years they make $30-$50,000 instead of $100,000+. But I guess the thought is it helps future work/life balance and maybe some extra income. Though neither my wife nor I did that and made high incomes comparable to specialists so I wouldn't say it's a requirement. Maybe if the demand is much lower it might be more important to have a residency under your belt.

Sorry for the length, I meant for this reply to only be a couple paragraphs but things just unraveled.
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Tycoon
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Tycoon »

doug4523 wrote:My wife and I are both pharmacists about 9 years out of school. Like others above, I concur it doesn't matter too much if the goal is retail pharmacy, and probably hospital pharmacy as well unless a clinical position is desired and then it's dependent on the residency program. Maybe things have changed a little since we graduated as far as demand, but I felt pretty strongly at the time that I should have gone to a cheaper school 5 miles away. The student loans really weighed us down for a while. I'd say if he wants to do a "regular" pharmacy job like retail or staff pharmacist at a hospital, focus more on cost/location/pass rates. It's probably too early for him to know what he wants to do with a pharmacy degree so it's probably safe to assume he would fall into what 90% probably end up doing, retail/hospital.

I had planned on doing retail when I went into pharmacy school, but then ended up doing my interning at a major hospital and then had my first pharmacist job. During my time there I held multiple roles, ranging from night shift (9pm-7am 7 on 7 off), float, IV room, outpatient oncology clinic, etc. Then a position opened on the IT side of things for a pharmacist, so I took that. Now I'm a IT consultant who works on healthcare software all day and haven't used my pharmacy license in over 5 years. My point is I thought I'd be doing retail when I was 18 but just 4 years after graduating I wasn't even a "real pharmacist" anymore. So unless he is positive he wants to do something outside the "norm" I wouldn't recommend placing too much importance on ranking. I'd place more importance on a balance of cost/location/convenience factor. Then just focus on excelling within the program.

As far as your most recent question, a hospital pharmacist can do a variety of things. This is also dependent on location and how many pharmacist the hospital decides to staff. The hospital I worked at when I started interning had about 1 pharmacist responsible for 4-6 floors. By the time I graduated and started working as a pharmacist, it was closer to a 1:1 ratio. That meant that the pharmacist on the floor could spend a lot more time per patient, which meant they did things like meet with each patient before they were discharged and went over all the medications they would be taking when they got home. Talked about side effects, etc. They would also round with doctors and the medical team each morning and would provide input/dosing suggestions. They would also be responsible for verifying all orders for the patients on their floor. Other pharmacists in the hospital would be more responsible for the dispensing part of it, like checking each med against the order to make sure the right med is being sent up. Also some will work in the "IV room" which is where all the medications that are infused are made. In the evening there is less staff so there is more responsibility on just getting things verified and up to the floor to make sure there isn't a delay in treatment. Lastly, there is an overnight shift where there is very limited coverage and one pharmacist will cover the entire hospital. Bigger hospitals maybe 2-3. New graduates in larger hospitals generally have to start out on the evening or night shift.

Of course hospitals have pharmacy management too, so that is another path in a hospital pharmacy. And Clinical Specialists. Can't say as much about what they do but for the most part they have more contact with the doctors and generally speaking aren't involved with verifying/dispensing. You also need to do a residency (1-2 years) to become a specialist. During those years they make $30-$50,000 instead of $100,000+. But I guess the thought is it helps future work/life balance and maybe some extra income. Though neither my wife nor I did that and made high incomes comparable to specialists so I wouldn't say it's a requirement. Maybe if the demand is much lower it might be more important to have a residency under your belt.

Sorry for the length, I meant for this reply to only be a couple paragraphs but things just unraveled.
Nice post.
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Topic Author
annabel
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by annabel »

Thank you so much for the answer for the hospital side.
cusetownusa
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by cusetownusa »

annabel wrote:Thank you very much for all the inputs. I sure have learned a lot from reading them.

It is a tough question to find out which school best fits my son before attending the school. Among the 8 schools he got accepted, 3 are state schools (New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island). And the other 5 are more health focus private schools which located in MA, NY, and PA. All the private ones offer him scholarship between $16,000 to $22,500 per year. One of the 5 private schools actually is only 20 minutes from our house. It will be the cheapest one for him to go with the scholarship they offer. Although we live in New York the tuition for the state schools in New Jersey and Rhode Island will be similar to what we will pay in New York except the first two years which are considered undergraduate and they are cheap for New York residents. All these 8 schools are very old and all have higher than 90% pass rate for NAPLES.

After reading all the inputs, I think the state schools might work better just in case my son changes his mind later. It is tough for an 18 year old to decide what he wants to do with his life. And it is hard for me to decide how to spend my hard earned money on him ;)

My next question is how do we figure out out which schools will help him most if he wants to do residency post graduate? I hope to get some answers from you guys.

Thanks again for all the answers you have provided.
My brother went to the University at Buffalo (UB) and now works as a pharmacist at a VA hospital in NY State. While he has a lot of student loans he is extremely thankful that he got into and choose this school over much more expensive private schools that he got into. He works with pharmacist that have double or triple his loans...crazy.

Also, I could be wrong, but if I remember correctly UB was one of the harder schools for him to get accepted to...he seemed to have no problem getting excepted to the expensive private schools. I assume this is because of the cost difference and it resulting in much higher demand to get into the UB Program.

He didn't want to do retail so he did an extra year of school which included a lot of different rotations. His favorite place that he did one of his rotations was the VA hospital he works at now. Its very difficult to get a job there but since they all loved him he got hired as soon as a position opened up (there is very little turnover). The school he went to was not a factor at all in their decision to hire him. So I would agree with the advice above and have your son do his rotations in the area he wants to ultimately live.
bogleenigma
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by bogleenigma »

So what are pharmacist salaries looking like
these days and how is the demand in
various parts of the country?
doug4523
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by doug4523 »

acura301 wrote:So what are pharmacist salaries looking like
these days and how is the demand in
various parts of the country?
My last year as a pharmacist I made about $120,000 in the hospital setting, but doing night shift/OT in previous years I was in the $130,000 range. You can make lots of money if you are willing to do night shift and work OT. The last time my wife worked a full year she was at $129,000 in the hospital "home infusion" setting. This was without shift differential/OT. We are in a fairly HCOLA on the east coast though.

As far as demand goes, I think it has definitely decreased in the last 10-15 years. I'd say this is mainly due to how many new graduates pharmacy schools are pumping out each year. That has dramatically increased, as well as the number of pharmacy schools out there. Hopefully that levels out at some point, but with the greed involved with colleges I don't have high hopes. My school alone started out with 600+ pharmacy school students freshmen year, and they "weeded out" 300+ over the 6 years, but we still graduated with 200+ students. That was 8 years ago. I bet the numbers are a good bit higher now.
Teague
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by Teague »

annabel wrote:Hi,

I have two more questions. What do pharmacists do in the pharmaceutical industry? What do pharmacists do in the hospitals? I can guess but I would like to hear from the people who are familiar with it.

Thank you.
In industry there are some good opportunities, and that could be a good fit for those pharmacists with more dynamic personalities. A downside may be that in industry (pharmaceutical companies) they tend to work you hard, according to people I known that have gone that route. Very little down time.

First, understand that R&D isn't done by PharmD's, it's done by PhD's and the like, a few of whom may also have a PharmD.

One industry position might be product specialist, which goes by different names at different companies, such as "product liaison." Basically these folks are conduits between thought-leaders in the academic community and the pharmaceutical company. They give lots of presentations, and travel a whole lot. I've met folks who love this job, but it's competitive to get in and usually requires significant hospital experience first. Some folks get tired of traveling so much.

Another position could be as a drug information specialist. These folks generally don't travel so much. They spend a lot of time on the phone answering questions from MD's, NP's and the like. Sometimes they supervise the RN's that answer questions from the general public. And they spend a lot of time faxing and emailing studies and data to practitioners. These positions may be entry-level and available to new grads, but I'd bet a residency is required these days.

Another possibility is moving into something like sales and marketing. This can be a good place for those who have gone through pharmacy school and realized they don't really want to "do that." Which is not unusual. One may need to start in something like drug info first then move into such a position.

Some of the brightest pharmacists I have known have wound up in industry. Many like it very much. Some eventually leave it due to the workload.

Edit to add: In industry, they are quite selective. Pharmacy school choice, extracurriculars in pharmacy school, and honors are likely to matter. A dynamic personality matters. Communication skills are paramount. A "count & pour, lick 'n stick" type will not come close to cutting it. Also, realize it's industry, layoffs do happen.
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rxtra8
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by rxtra8 »

Ranking does not matter that much. I live in SCAL and I went to U of AZ when many others in the area went to USC. It was never an issue for me: initially briefly at VA, then retail and finally large HMO as outpatient pharmacist then into management as a supervisor in inventory for a large automated pharmacy. Just do a good job, work hard and folks will like you...usually does the trick. My last year salary in management approached 200K.

My pharmacy knowledge slipped a bit but my people skills went up. Imagine a pharmacist having to decide which forklift to buy??? Common sense, learning skills, ability to research issues and hard work goes a long way. It would be good to try to volunteer at many different pharmacy opportunities to see what is possible. There are pharmacists that have never touched a tablet but work at drug use management, cost control, formulary, benefits, etc. I had no clue about the possibilities while I was in school. My eyes were not opened until I starting working for the large HMO; lots of opportunity. And of course with a large HMO there are a bunch of the clinical specialities that will require extra years of training and keep you firmly in the ivory tower.

Consider a residency at a large HMO; you will see the opportunities and you may just end up working for the HMO; possibly at something that you would have never considered or thought of initially.
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PittPharmboy
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by PittPharmboy »

While I agree with most of the posts that school ranking probably doesn't matter much in the retail setting, it definitely matters when going the clinical pharmacy route and securing a residency position (speaking from a position of having practiced solely as a clinical pharmacist).

I've served on two different residency selection committees at two different institutions and would argue that the higher ranked schools are often seen as a +1 when compared to the lower ranked schools. In other words, if you've got two candidates that are pretty even on paper, the student that graduated from the better school would get the residency interview 100% of the time.

The interview is what REALLY matters though. I don't give a hoot about what school you went to if you can't interact/communicate with me or my patients in a normal manner during the interview process.

After residency however, I'd argue that it doesn't matter at all. At that point, we're much more concerned about personality/fit/knowledge base which is gained through the residency program than we are about what school you graduated from.
tl24
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by tl24 »

annabel wrote: What do pharmacists do in the hospitals?
Dough provided a great description of what most of the pharmacists roles in the hospital were, but I wanted to point out a few things. The "clinical roles" that usually require a residency nowadays are the roles where they are on the floors and work directly with prescribers (physicians, NP's, PA's) and nurses. They review patients' histories, labs, tests, etc. to determine if they have any recommendations (whether if it were to be add a medication, switch to a different one, stop one, increase or decrease the dose of one, or anything else) to optimize the medical care and/or minimize side effects. They are also often sought out for various medication questions as they are thought to be the "drug experts." Most of the other roles, which are more commonly referred to as "staffing roles," where you review orders and dispense the medicines do not always require a residency - but this could depend on what area of the country you are practicing in.

Of note, it looks like that you are located in NY. After moving from there a few years ago for residency training, I will say that when I left, the "clinical pharmacy" jobs were much harder to come by - and thus very competitive and often required additional training (2 years of residency). I think it has improved since, but not 100% sure - nor do I believe it's as progressive as other parts of the country.

PS - I also agree that a good application typically gets you the interview, and a good interview gets you the position.

Feel free to message me as I would be happy to provide any additional insight.
engineer4286
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by engineer4286 »

As a pharmacist myself, I will agree with the others on the school choice is not that big of deal in most cases. I have completed a general and sub specialty residency and went into academics which I found to not be the right fit. After a couple years working in my subspeciality area within a hospital setting, I moved onto industry as a medical science liaison a few years ago.

The world of pharmacy does have endless possibilities that most students never even consider but at the same time I am not sure I would make the college choice again or if I will even last another 5-10 years. Industry is fulfilling but the travel is exhausting, and the stability is shaky at best. I do set my own schedule, work from home, and get to publish and work within the clinical research arena so I find it fulfilling.

Have a realistic talk with your son about any debt burden, many of my former students have 100-200k+ of student loan debt and they felt trapped into retail rather than delaying and pursuing further training. Retail is all fine and well for some but I wouldn't last 5 minutes before losing my mind. My heart goes out to all those in the trenches.

I have many friends in retail feeling burnt out, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled. I loved the previous poster commenting on the descriptions of calling each other "doctor" stuff.

Buyer beware. But then again, I have had those same feelings in all the various types of pharmacy careers I have been in. To each their own but I'm happy to answer questions, feel free to PM.
ChampCamp
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by ChampCamp »

I'm an industry pharmacist. I love it. The benefits are great, the people I work with are great. I'm in an environment with constant change and I'm challenged on a daily basis.

In general, you can expect a lower starting salary than hospital/retail, post-graduate training requirements, and despite regular work hours ~9-5, project-based work often necessitates working more than the typical 40 hours.

Big differentiators of those PharmD students who choose and are successful with the industry path...

-Good communicators
-Coachable
-Industry experience

Industry experience is easier to get as some schools over others... if industry is a possible career choice, I'd look into which schools offer rotations/clerkships/internships with local pharmaceutical companies.

-ChampCamp
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rcjchicity
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by rcjchicity »

Another pharmacist here (I've never noticed how many pharmacist Bogleheads there are until this post!). I'm a residency-trained clinical pharmacist working at a large academic medical center. I precept both students and 1st year pharmacy residents, and participate in the resident interview processes each year.

As many others have said, rankings don't matter (I've never even seen a listing in my 15 years of practicing). But, attending a well-established school over a newer pop-up school does. I can tell such a difference in my students as to where they go. As for our residents, we really don't take them from less-established programs as they don't seem to have the same clinical chops.

Going to the cheapest, well-established school with a good reputation is the sweet spot. I went to a state school with a pharmacy program that was over 100 years old. My student loans were paid off 5 years out (would have been sooner had I been a Boglehead then). Also, I didn't decide on pharmacy until my junior year of undergrad. So going to a state school allowed me to switch between career paths without having to switch schools.
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annabel
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Re: Does pharmacy school ranking matter?

Post by annabel »

Thank you very much for the inputs from the industry side of pharmacy. Love this forum.
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