Clinical Pharmacist at Geisinger Medical Center
Hi Malina- I am not sure where you are in your high school career and/or how much you have looked into the variety of pharmacy school programs that exist, but there are actually many options to pursuing a path in pharm while still having an opportunity to enjoy your college years. That being said, pharmacy school is an extremely demanding and intense 4 years that requires much dedication, organization, studying and clinical learning. All pharmacy programs require that you complete some level of undergraduate studies prior to starting the professional pharmacy curriculum. Some of these are 2-year pre-pharm programs built into a pharmacy school, while other schools only offer a professional program and require a 4 year undergrad degree prior to applying to their pharmacy school. Depending on how specialized of a school/program you decide on, your college time may be more liberalized initially (2 vs 4 years of undergrad). I personally chose a 0-6 program, so I had guaranteed acceptance, and this allowed me to enjoy my 2 years of undergrad prior to starting into the professional program (without going too crazy as you do have to keep a minimum GPA). This of course comes with some risk as you will be underage but depending on what experiences you want this may or may not be an issue, and allows the opportunity to join social organizations, travel abroad, intramural sports, etc. The majority of pharmacy schools are considered "2-4" meaning 2 years of undergrad, followed by taking the PCAT, and reapplying to professional graduate pharmacy school. This could add additional stress to your first 2 years of undergrad. Regardless, you still will have to take "cores" (econ, stats, philosophy, psychology, history, etc) but the bulk of classes will still be heavily focused on the sciences. One thing I can tell you is once you get into a flow of learning in pharmacy, the material seems to become less challenging as it is actually your area of interest, and learning it is your goal. Another great general tip is to have peers to study with and also schedule fun/free time with, as everyone will be under the same level of stress and need a break once you enter the professional program. I cannot speak to the pharmacology path directly, but a big portion of that is doing research, which means spending many many hours in a lab doing various experiments, as well as likely being a teaching assistant- but again this would likely be in more of a graduate setting vs straight from high school. In general you will have probably the first 2 years of college to really decide whats best for you/ Right now, I would recommend researching the various programs and see how they may fit into your desire for curriculum as well as freedom- consider one of the 0-6 programs if you want that extra assurance you will have a guaranteed spot, but also be cognizant of keeping your grades. Pursuing an undergrad degree may first may be a better option if you really want that "full college experience." Hope this helps and doesn't add further confusion, feel free to reach out with any follow up questions.
This professional recommends the following next steps:
- research the types of pharmacy programs (0-6, 2-4, 2-3) and what is required for each program.