A Day in the Life of a PharmD Student
Hi everyone! My name is Marzena and I am in my 3rd year of studies at the University of British Columbia, and currently in my 1st year of pharmacy school. Since pharmacy is quite a popular career choice for many undergraduate science students, I have been getting a lot of questions about admissions and life as a PharmD student. So, I decided to start an article series to address these questions and to document my transition into UBC’s Entry to Practice PharmD (E2P) program.
1. What is the difference between the BSc Pharm and E2P PharmD program?
Over the last few years, there has been a nation-wide shift in pharmacy programs from the BSc Pharm program into entry level PharmD programs (E2P PharmD). The E2P PharmD program is a 4 year professional program offering students an entry level Doctor in Pharmacy degree. UBC is one school to follow suit in this transition.
Schools are upgrading to entry-level doctor of pharmacy programs to meet the anticipated future demand for pharmacists, as well as to drive innovation in pharmacy careers. Pharmacists are moving away from stereotypical drug dispensing duties, and are moving toward providing patient centred care, which includes counselling and educational duties. Overall, the scope of practice for pharmacists is currently being expanded and schools are following closely behind to educate and train the next generation of pharmacists to adapt to future needs.
The new E2P PharmD program has been completely re-structured. Instead of taking requisite courses from the Faculty of Science in second and third year, students now follow a standard time table, and professors from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences are now instructing all the courses in the new program. In my first term, I am taking 3 courses: PHRM 100, PHRM 141 and PHRM 170.
PHRM 100 is a gigantic 18 credit course consisting of 6 modules (so technically it is 6 courses meshed into one). It consists of 15 hours of lecture, and 7 hours of labs and tutorials each week. Material from pharmacokinetics to healthcare ethics is covered.
PHRM 141 is a 1 hour/week seminar course where we have discussions regarding the healthcare system, and the relationship between the profession of pharmacy and society.
PHRM 170 is the community service learning component of our program. Students volunteer around the city in different systems, write reflections and discuss societal issues.
Another component of our program is Interprofessional Education (IPE), where we meet with students in other health professions to discuss topics surrounding health professional collaboration and ethics.
2. How do you get into the E2P PharmD program?
To gain admission into the Entry-to-Practice PharmD program, students must have finished 60 credits or 2 years in an undergraduate program within 10 years of application. Students must also meet a minimum admission grade average of 65% in both their core/prerequisite courses, and their last 30 credits worth of courses. The application deadline is January 31st, 2016 for this admission cycle of students starting in September 2016.
After submission of an online application, a portion of students are selected for an interview. At UBC, interviews take place in early May, and are structured in a Multiple Mini Interview format. For more information on how to succeed in MMIs, check out this article or this one. A couple of weeks later, in late May, offers of admissions are sent out!
For more information regarding applying to UBC’s E2P PharmD program, please take a look here.
3. Describe your typical day. When do you start and end classes? Do you have any breaks in between?
I’m currently in my first year in the new program. The program operates on a standard time table, in which all 224 or so students in the entire year have the same schedule. This means that we have all our classes together, with the exception of labs and tutorials. The different days of the week range drastically for us as well.
On my lightest day, I have only one 3.5 hour long tutorial, whereas on my heaviest day, I have an 8 hour long lecture. Classes start by 8:30 AM latest, and end at 5 PM every day. We have a one hour lunch break between 12:00 and 1:00 PM every day.
Apart from school, I also work, volunteer, and am actively involved in clubs. When I factor in these extracurriculars, I essentially start at 8 AM and continue past 5 PM.
4. What is the transition like from undergrad to a professional program? How does the pharmacy workload compare to my previous undergrad major?
To be honest, the transition from my undergraduate program to pharmacy has been quite overwhelming. Before starting pharmacy, I was doing a combined major in the Faculty of Science. Every term, I took 5 courses, which equates to 30 credits a year. Back then, my schedule was pretty relaxed and my typical school day was 3 hours long, with the exception of days with labs.
Now in pharmacy, I am taking 42 credits a year. My days start earlier and end later, and all of our classes are at least 4 hours long with the longest being 8 hours long. This has been very difficult for me to adapt to because I cannot sit still for long periods of time. Thankfully, humans are very adaptable creatures, and I am getting used to this new, intensive schedule.
The course work has also significantly increased in difficulty. We are learning a lot of new things in a very short period of time, so it can be difficult to condense material and self-learn.
From a non-academic perspective, the Faculty of Pharmacy is more tight knit than the Faculty of Science. Since all 224 of us first years share the exact same schedule and spend hours on end with each other every day, I feel a stronger sense of community here. It has been awesome meeting my amazing classmates!
Next time, I’ll address more questions on life as a PharmD student. Feel free to message me with any questions, and I will incorporate them into my next post!