Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Entering AP courses on PharmCas Application

Question: Would I put AP credits under Fall 2006 semester or the Summer 2007 semester since there's not a space solely for AP credits on Pharmcas? Or would I have to create a new "semester" and put them in and if I do, what would I put the "semester" under? (Fall, Summer, Spring, Interim, etc.)

Would I put the actual test name or would I put the course name that I received credit for?

The first semester I was an actual college student was in the Summer of 2007. However, my transcript shows a class that gave credit to my university while I was still enrolled in high school. I took a vocational class at a local tech/vocational school (only for high school juniors and seniors) during my senior year of high school. That particular course gave me both high school and college credit.

Answer: This is the response from PharmCas: Please enter your Advanced Placement credits under the first semester attended at the post-secondary institution where the AP credit was awarded. You will enter the test name and subject in the course title and prefix fields, the Grade will be "CR" for Credit, and the PharmCAS Grade will be "N/A." Please be sure to add the correct number of credit hours earned for each AP exam, and add the Special Classification "Advanced Placement", along with the test score, if known. PharmCAS does not require a copy of the AP test score report, but your designated Pharmacy schools may. Please check with the schools to determine their requirements for AP score reports

Please input your AP coursework exactly as it appears on your transcript, whether it be the test name or the course name that appears on your transcript – please input this information exactly the same in your coursework section. Please list your AP courses in the FIRST semester of the institution where it was awarded, regardless of when you actually took the course/test.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Question about schedule in pharmacy school

Question: I just had a question about the schedule for pharmacy school? Typically, students have to attend class each day, but is it for all day? It's probably not like college where you can choose the times when take classes, correct? How do you view someone who needs to work during pharmacy school, and how many hours / week would you recommend?

Answer: I can only speak to the programs I am familiar with, but I think it is safe to say that each pharmacy school has a fairly specific schedule that you will need to adhere to. You might have a bit of flexibility with labs and electives, but you won't have much freedom to choose different course offerings. For example, Medicinal Chemistry may only offered once to the students enrolled in your program and youwill need to take the course when it is scheduled to progress through your program.

I uually think it is a good idea for pharmacy students to work a few hours per week (8 or so) to gain firsthand, real world experience if you are able to maintain your grades while doing so.

To the readers of the blog, please provide comments to confirm or refute my response. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

International Student Having Difficulties Gaining Experience

Question: I am an international student finishing up a bachelor degree to apply for pharmacy school. I have been trying very hard to look for volunteering opportunities in pharmacy field. However, all the hospitals I've asked do not offering pharmacy volunteering since they worry about safety issues. So, how can one gain any experience working in the field if they cannot volunteer at a pharmacy of a hospital?

Also, since I am an international student, I cannot work anywhere but my school campus. That factor really limits me to gain any experience in pharmacy. The best I've tried is pharmacy shadowing, and it's only "better than nothing" as listed from older posts.
(see: http://pharmacyschooladmissions.blogspot.com/2009/06/question-about-letters-of.html)

Answer: Thank you for your email. I had not considered some of the work limitations that may affect international students.

My best advice would be to contact the nearest pharmacy school (or the schools where you plan to apply) and ask them to put you in contact with an alumnus who might be willing to let you shadow or volunteer in their pharmacy. As I mentioned previously, several times each year I am contacted about allowing interested students to"shadow" me for a day.

I would encourage you to contact the school of pharmacies and explain your situation. I suspect they would be willing to help or they might have a professor who has clerkship students willing to let you join them. If they are unable to help you, at least you have started a dialogue with the school. I think most committees will applaud your initiative.

Best of luck.

Monday, June 22, 2009

FDA Bans several "Herbal" products

Although not directly realted to the admission process, we are going to try and keep you updated of occasional happenings in the world of medicine and pharmacy industry news as well.

Over the years I have had quite a few arguments with colleagues over recommending over the counter, non-FDA approved "herbal" and "health" products. I was never sold on the efficacy, not to mention potential safety issues, of many of these products.

Now, it sounds like the FDA is finally acting out against some of the manufacturers, pulling such products as Zicam and Hydroxycut. I suspect we will see more removed from the market in the future.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

PCAT - June 20, 2009 - feedback

I'm not sure how many of our followers took the PCAT yesterday (June 20, 2009), but if you did, please provide feedback in the comments section below. Your thoughts or observations would be appreciated by many. How did you prepare? Do you plan to take it again? Please do not post actual questions asked on the exam - they will be deleted.

Please note: Candidates cannot disclose--in whole or in part--any exam questions or answers to anyone during or after the exam, whether orally, in writing, in any internet "chat rooms or blogs", or otherwise. The PCAT is a secure examination, protected by U.S. copyright laws, and any unauthorized disclosure of the exam's contents could result in civil liability, criminal penalties, and/or cancellation of test scores. Examinees are encouraged to report any internet activities that disclose information about test questions, so that Pearson may investigate and take any necessary action.

We hope to hear from as many of you as possible.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Do we charge for our service?

Question: We have been asked by quite a few people if we plan to charge for the service that we provide.

Answer: My belief is that by giving free advice we can be as honest and straightforward as we want. This way, we feel no pressure to say what you want to hear to keep the money coming in. If you would like to help out the Pharmacy School Admissions blog, however, here are a couple of ways you can do so:

1) Tell your friends, classmates, co-workers, or anyone else interested in the profession of pharmacy about this blog. Send them the link or post it on any web sites or social networking pages that you frequent.

2) "Follow" the blog by clicking the link on the right hand side of this page.

3) You can click on the advertisements that you see on the blog. I think in 2 months we have made $12. Obviously, we aren't doing this for the money.

We do appreciate the interest we have received from so many people. We hope that you have found it beneficial and have learned something to ease the application process. Stay tuned for what we hope will be additional features coming soon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Are there different types of recommendations?

Question: In response to an earlier question you said that we should hope to get a "highly recommend" on an LOR. Are there different types of recommendations?

Answer: Yes, there are. The PharmCas letter of recommendation form that you have your reviewers fill out requires them to indicate your abilities in several areas and then state how they recommend you as an overall candidate. I will go back through later today and list all of the categories that an applicant is graded on.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Please bookmark or follow the blog

We have had the opportunity to review quite a few personal statements the past week or so. We ask that you please bookmark the page and consider following the blog by clicking the link on the right hand side of the page.

At this moment, we only have 12 "official" followers, but we've looked at that many statements in the past 48 hours alone. Please also consider linking to our page through your myspace or facebook accounts. The more people we can have visit and offer comments, the more valuable a resource it becomes.

Thank you and best of luck.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Should I take Orgo before the PCAT?

Question: I am applying for Fall 2010. I am supposed to take Organic Chem I this fall and I would like to take the PCAT in August, but I am concerned about knowing the material on the PCAT without taking Organic. What do you think I should do?

Answer: I think you would be wise to take the PCAT only after you have taken (minimally), Gen Chem, Biology, and preferably Calculus. Certainly, having started Orgo will help you, but some people do very well without having taken Orgo yet.

If you feel as though your grades are marginal and your acceptance will depend on a strong PCAT, I would suggest not taking the PCAT in August. Use the fall semster to learn basic Orgo and prepare for the PCAT. You would hate to look back and three months later and realize that a weak PCAT was the nail in the coffin simply because you weren't familiar enough with the material on the exam.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Personal Statements... Words of advice

I thank everyone for submitting their personal statements. With their permission, I will try to publish snippets of statements every now and then to point out things I find interesting:

Example #1: ...I started out in college with health care in mind; I wanted to go into health care. When someone has a job in health care, their job is secure, and health care is always growing.

Response: Committees usually frown upon students who mention job security and/or financial success as part of their reason for attending pharmacy school. I discourage you from doing so as well. While your statement may be accurate (as I think this is), it is better left unsaid.

Example #2: I want to go into pharmacy because I am interested in the reactions, not medical diagnosis. One of my biggest decisions was taking nursing and organic chemistry together. I learn through nursing that it’s taking care of a patient, giving nursing diagnosis and scenario based questions, it had nothing to do with biology or chemistry. It had to do with what you are going to do in that situation, nursing can just make one up on the spot. I also do not want to be a doctor because in the hospital all the doctors and nurses don’t seem that happy.

Response: Oh boy, be careful here. I know plenty of unhappy pharmacists (as well as doctors, nurses, truck drivers, day laborers, etc). You may think that pharmacists are the happiest health care professionals and it is okay to say that, but refrain from making a broad stroke claim against another health profession. As an alternative, you might say, "The pharmacists I have interacted with seem to enjoy the profession and I hope to do the same."

I will post more soon. Thanks for the emails and special thanks to those who allow us to assist everyone by publishing small parts of their statements. To review previous blog posts regarding personal statements, search "personal statement" in the blog search above.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Want us to review your personal statement?

We know that many of your are preparing your PharmCas applications and writing your personal statements at this time. We are happy to review your statement and make suggestions at no cost to you. So far, we have about a dozen that we have reviewed or are in the process of reviewing and making comments on. In an earlier blog series, we discussed several things that you should say and other items best left unsaid in your personal statement (search "personal statement" in the blog search above).

We look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Register with PharmCas for 2010 matriculation

As many of you know, today is the first day that you can register with PharmCas for matriculating in the fall of 2010. Please click on the link below to begin your application. At a minimum, I suggest visiting the website and reviewing the associated pages for those schools you are considering. There is a wealth of information available - please use it.


For many of you, today marks the first step in a yearlong process to be accepted into pharmacy school. We wish you the best of luck.

Please contact us with any questions.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Question about prerequisite courses

Question: I had a question. In college, I took English Composition I and Non-Fiction Writing. Would this count as the 2 pre-requisite classes needed to fulfill the English Composition (6 credit hours) requirement? I just wasn't sure if the classes specifically needed to be titled as English composition I and II.

Answer: I suspect this would meet the requirement at most institutions. As always, however, please contact the admissions office (email would certainly work) just to be sure. You don't want to have an awful surprise when you are applying and find out that you still need another course.

As noted many times, I am very happy to answer questions regarding courses you have taken or those which you plan to schedule. However, as I mentioned in my response to this questioner, ALWAYS contact the school(s) directly to get an answer from them. One school might accept Non-Fiction Writing and another may not. A quick email or phone call should get you the necessary information and save you $8 on the giant bottle of Excedrin you would have to buy for the headache this created should you not complete your diligence.

Thanks for your email. Please keep the questions and comments coming. I reviewed a number of personal statements this weekend and may ask permission to post some of the things I read (both positive and negative).