I am a first level pharmacy student at USC. I am glad that I made the decision to attend USC but it did take some time before I started liking USC.
First off, USC is very different from the UCs. As an undergraduate at UCI, I was never encouraged to network. But at USC, networking is highly encouraged and cultivated. I used to hate networking but to be honest networking is just an integral part of life. I do believe that if you are planning to practice in Southern California, going to USC will offer you many advantages since 50% of the pharmacists in Southern California graduated from USC. I was recently hired as an intern at Kaiser and the pharmacy manager there graduated and taught at USC. Also, local retails are always emailing the class looking for interns. Sav-on, Walgreens, Walmart, and Rite Aid are actively recruiting USC students for their summer internship program. As I recall, Sav-on is offering 40 summer internship positions in Southern California and 10 of those positions went to USC Class of 2007.
Second, I feel the new curriculum is very clinical orientated. We do not have to take classes like biochemistry and microbiology anymore since those classes are now pharmacy pre-reqs. Instead, we get to take more useful classes like compounding! As a first level, we are taught CPR, diabetes screening, hypertension screening, cholesterol screening, immunization (yes pharmacists give flu shots now) just to name a few. Throughout the year, there are several health fairs. That is when we get the chance to not only apply the knowledge we have been learning but also help the underserved community. This year, I have attended 3 health fairs and I am planning to help coordinate another one. Also during the first year, we have clerkship each semester. I worked at County USC Hospital last semester and now I am working at Sav-On this semester. Next year, we will have our IV rotation. That is when we are going to learn how to make IVs. One of the clinical professors was reliving history and was telling us how USC became the first pharmacy school in the nation to start clinical pharmacy.
Third, there's always something to do at USC. Although I find the curriculum to be challenging and time consuming, there is still time to go out and have a good time. A good number of my classmates know how to party. There are always mixers between the professional and graduate schools. I have only been to one mixer but it was not that great because people there tend to stay within their own little group of friends. There are also a good number of organizations on campus including 4 fraternities, manage care, community pharmacy, and of course VAPSA (Vietnamese American Pharmacy Student Association) just to name a few. The graduate business school is always inviting us to local bars. I guess because there is big money to be made in drugs. There are also opportunities for professional training including resume editing, communication, as well as career pathways.
USC School of Pharmacy is very well established since USC has been training future pharmacists for the last 100 years.
Like everything else, there are advantages and disadvantages. I will post the disadvantages at a later time.
That was very helpful! Very insightful. Anyone from UCSF want to give their opinion of what they think? Anyone who doesn't like the school they are at, UCSF or USC please post reply and tell us why. Thanks in advance.
Well, as one of the self-appointed representative for UCSF let me give you strong and weak points about our school.
Let's start off with the weaknesses...As a first year pharmacy student, I sometimes wonder about some of the classes I have to take, such as histology, anatomy, and some of the lectures are excruciating to sit through. Once we had a lecture on how to use the internet as if we were introduced to the technology for the first time. Another time, we had a seminar on cultural appreciation. Come on, most of us are from diverse backgrounds and as health professionals we know that we should treat our patients equally and with respect. At the end of each quarter we evaluate the instructors and the courses themselve, so there is some remedy for courses that need improvements. Oh yeah, attendance is mandatory in some of the courses, which reminds me of my high school days.
OK, now for the positive points about UCSF. Yes, we have to take physical chemistry, biochemistry, and other courses you might not be expected to take at another pharmacy school. However, UCSF is not training all of its students to become clinicians, so it tries to give you a variety of subjects to study (and that is why I ungrudgingly go to histo and anatomy). In addition to the traditional roles pharmacists serve in dispensing drugs and counseling patients, more are becoming researchers, policy makers, informatics experts, etc. Going to UCSF, I feel I have more options on what I can do with my PharmD. For example, UCSF offers its students three pathways to pursue--pharmaceutical science, pharm care, and healthy policy and management. A student who entered the health policy and management pathway got to manage a pharmacy during her fourth year without doing a residency, how cool is that!
Basically, at UCSF you have some the best scientists, clinicians, and policy makers--leaders in their specialties--training you. If you want to work with a professor on a project you are interested in, you have that opportunity and perhaps get published.
Yes, we also sponsor health fairs around the Bay Area, where you get a more hands-on role, testing patients for their blood glucose and cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure and what not. You can even immunize patients if you take a required course. We have something called Project Days which this quarter and last are more interactive with the asthma, diabetes, smoking cessation programs.
UCSF does not emphasize networking, and, no, going to UCSf or having a degree from UCSF does not guarantee that you will get that summer internship or dream job. However, you will have a lot of opportunities to meet other students and pharmacists through clubs, organizations, and meetings. Heck, you can network with UCSFpharmgirl and me! You will learn much about pharmacy and with those tools, perhaps become a leader in the profession.
I will skip the part about the living in SF and my classmates cuz they are both awesome, and I have praised them enough already in other posts. If you don't mind working hard, playing hard, taking the initiative for your career path, then UCSF might be the right choice for you.
Originally posted by neonam11 ...Another time, we had a seminar on cultural appreciation. Come on, most of us are from diverse backgrounds and as health professionals we know that we should treat our patients equally and with respect...
Tell me about it. If I have to sit through any more diversity/health disparity lectures, I'm going to feign a heart attack to be excused. We have the politically correct crap all the time, and it's really getting old. There's nothing like having mandatory diversity lectures, or regurgitating statistics on healthcare disparities the day before a big immunology exam. Future students beware!
When I first started pharmacy school at USC, I questioned if I had made the right decision. The orientation was not only long and boring but there was nothing really planned for us except the welcoming picnic. I wanted to get to know my classmates better but I felt there was really no opportunity outside of the classroom to socialize. There was no camping, no tour, nothing. I was not too fond of the "Trojan family" crap either and their great football team (but if you are into sports, USC sport sticker which cost $100 will allow you to attend all USC sport events). I never networked in my life and I cringed every time I heard that word. Everybody was in their own little group including myself. Rumors spread like wildfire. In another word: I felt I was back in high school again. Sometimes, I still do. I was told that it is the same thing at other pharmacy schools but I dont know.
The curriculum is not the only thing that has changed, the grading standard has also changed. Now at USC, you need at least a 2.6 GPA to advance to level II and a 3.0 GPA to graduate from the school. If you get a D in any class, you are out of the school and will have to repeat the whole semester next year. I still do not understand why they have raised the grading standards. Although I do not think it is that difficult to get a B if you work hard, I am afraid that I might screw up an exam. Last semester, 5 out of 196 students got a D in biosystem and now they are no longer with us. I personally think the new grading standard is counterproductive. I want to be more active with school and work but at the same time, the fear of screwing up is in the back of my head.
But that fear has not stopped me from being an active member of our class fundraising committee and VAPSA. I am planning to bring up ideas to the fundraising committee and to organize more activities during orientation week such as clubbing. We are also organizing notes for class of 2008. Why are we so nice? Because we are planning to sell those notes for a reasonable price ( ). So far, we have raised $5,000. It is my personal goal to raise enough money so we can have our graduation at the Shrine (that's where they held the Oscar a few years ago). The surrounding of the campus is not that great either. I would even say it is ghetto but relatively safe since it is heavily guarded.
USC is a private school. The tuition is around $31,000 a year which is a lot more expensive than $17,000 at UCSF. You should consider the difference in living cost between LA and SF as well. I am planning to work during the summer and school year so I would not have to borrow as much. In a way, it is a positive thing because I believe working really reinforces what I have been learning.
If for some reason, a Pharm.D. degree does not fully satisfy your needs for knowledge, there are several well known dual degrees offered at USC. USC is also known for its liberal studies including law, business. I hear a Pharm.D./JD or Pharm.D./MBA degree will greatly enhance one's career. Another thing I like about USC is that we do not take classes with dental and medical students. Although pharmacy, dental and medical students learn similar things, we are trained very differently. Our classes are specifically taitored for pharmacy students.
I am confident you will receive a great education either at USC or UCSF. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.
I have received a couple of PMs regarding my posts. I will address them here.
The grading standard has changed. But USC in no way tries to get rid some of its students. As a matter of fact, USC offers free tutoring to those who are struggling. In addition to that, the class coordinates really make an effort to speak to everyone who is struggling. I personally do not think it is that difficult to get an A if you work hard. As a matter of fact, more than half of the class get As while the rest virtually get Bs. A few get Cs and unfortunately a limited number of students get Ds. I have seen the score of those who got Ds and their score was exceptionally low. For example, if the mean is 75, those who received Ds last semester had a score of 30. However, the program is time consuming and you need to make an effort.
I had a few really good professors especially the pharmacist professors. They seem to really care about their students. Some are even millionaires so I hear. They are also approachable. I know a few professors that make an effort to help their students not only academically but career wise as well. They encourage us to work while we are still in school. The schedule really allows us to work since our class schedule is from 8 am to noon except during our clerkship and leadership training period. I believe most of the 2nd and 3rd level pharmacy students do work and the 1st levels are currently looking for a position. I believe it is important to work because ultimately experience really differentiates one pharmacist from another and USC really cultivates that concept.
If you have any more questions, free feel to PM me. =)
I agree with Bmbiology in the sense that I think a 3.00 is ridiculously high. However, I do know that the school will take into account the gpa requirement for graduation and distribute the grades so that the overwhelming majority of the students will get A and B. As you move pass ur first year into second year, they hand out more A and B. Just don't fall off the scale meaning don't score so below the average that they can't even curve it anyway to save u. I think in one of my theraupetics class during second year, 40% A and 60% B. In all regards, I don't think they ever kick out anybody who put in a descent effort, they just delayed them, meaning those people have to graduate later because they have to make up the courses. The only people who totally failed out were people who just did not want to be there and it showed by not studying at all. Survive the first two years and u will be fine.
Oh by the way, Biosystem I and II is going to include not only physiology and anatomy now, but also pathology and maybe a little histology. They are also thinking of making the students take certain labs like vital signs with the med students.
You can't make a bad decision either way. They're both great schools w/established pasts in pharmacy and great leaders. Both have developed innovative programs w/great visionaries at the helm.
I was lucky enough to be accepted to both and chose sc bc i wanted access to the pharmacoeconomic policy institute from day one, and that's exactly what i got since our health care delivery class was instructed by one of their economists. SC has a really broad integration of faculty members from academia and the private sector. It's cool bc they tell you from the first minute you lecture w/them what they thought was important when they were students and what they found to be important in practice, particularly those that started their own companies. I'm not saying i always like these guys, but i am saying that i trust their opinions for the most part when it comes to the real-world bc they're currently succeeding in it as far as the business of pharmacy.
Access is another key. all of the administration, including Dean Chan and Asst Dean Weissman are w/in your reach whenever you need them. They make an effort to get to know you and help you succeed. Back to the new grading policy, i think it sucks, and i don't think they appreciate enough that it sucks, but they will bend themselves into paperclips to help you succeed even w/it. I've dined w/Fred Weissman several times now, his wife is an LKS alum, and he's a phenomenal blend of professional/academic/mentor. At APhA in Seattle, he left the group of faculty members to talk to me while i was waiting in line for a computer at the messaging center. I was impressed. To me that says a lot.
What ain't so cool is the frat effect at SC. I'm not sure if it's real or imagined, but it seems like the division of phi decs and alphas at sc effects the class dynamic, at least for each other and those of us that are friends w/members. I say this as a member of LKS which will probably play a bigger role in that next year, but supposedly we stay neutral in all that. This fits in w/the whole networking thing at SC and no matter what anyone tells you it does open some doors. One of our faculty members received a grant from washington to supervise underserved community clinics and that person is only offering to members of her frat for the first year.
what else is a plus is the dual-degree options at sc. There are a ton. some that i never heard of until i started school, but am now heavily weighing. the standard ones: phd/pharmd, mba, jd, but also MS regulatory sci which can be completed in one summer as far as the coursework, masters in pharmacoeconomic policy complete after pharmD, not sure about mph, once again these programs are notable bc they take from a wide variety of disciplines.
Like BMB said, there's always a ton to do. So many activities both mandatory and voluntary that it'll blow your mind. I can also say that i've never been surrouned by a group of people so willing to help you out, and not just little help either, i'm talking giving you their chapter summaries that took them days to complete or their top 200 drug list all neatly compiled in an excel file. I won't even go into the schedule that one of our classmates made up during break. it was color coded!!!
I think that alludes to my next point for either usc or ucsf. Either place will surround you w/ppl that are immensely capable. I'm shocked at times. Everyone is really bright, scary bright some times. Those crazy types that can memorize all the material w/o using pens and paper.
hope this helps provide a picture. i have friends at both schools and am confident that all of them will succeed in their careers.
This is how I see it. I only applied to one Pharmacy school, and that was UCSF. Some people would say that was a rather foolish thing to do, but I don't think so. I had a very strong application, and I knew a number of USC pharmacy alums that could have "hooked" me up at USC, but I chose not to even bother applying there. Why? you ask?
I know what I want, and the $$$ is not it. I do believe that the opportunities for $$$ are much better at USC, but the science is not. UCSF is the mecca of medicinal research for the entire world. There is no other place that comes even remotely close.
But who know's, I haven't even started school yet. Maybe I'll regret my decision in a few years when all my USC friends have nice paying jobs, while I'll be writing grants.
To me it's not all about the money. I thank those who put in the time for the input. Although I started the thread to see the advantage of UCSF, I see that both schools are good. One school is a privately funded school, while the other one is not. Regardless, I am not concerned about the $$ I make afterwards, but which school will offer me an education with a nice environment to be in. I would rather go to a school with nice people, nice professors, and a friendly atmosphere, then a better school with students who only compete with each other. I am not saying either schools have students like this, I am just trying to figure out which school will be better fit for me. (Triangulation I sent PM but your box is full) Also- to the UCSF people, is it hard to finish up your 500-1000 mandatory hours? I heard that UCSF people have a hard time doing it because they can't get positions during the summer or are too busy during the school year, so they have to finish all their hours right before they graduate. Is this true? Also is it hard to find a paying intern job in san fran? From the USC people, I hear it's really easy to get a position because everyone down here is a USC alumni. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
Spyris, at UCSF, you will not earn hours during the first academic year. Once you finish your first year, however, you begin to accrue hours. Yes, it is somewhat difficult to find an intern position if you start looking at a much later date (late winter or spring quarter) because you will be competing with a lot of your classmates and the upper classmen. In addition, some of the hospitals like Kaiser are not hiring many interns which exacerbates the shortage problem. Most of my classmates who found jobs at the hospitals and retail pharmacies in SF started looking really early, right after they got their intern license, which is by the end of fall quarter.
If you want to stay in SF for the summer and work here, my advice is to look early. It's not totally impossible to find a job, but it takes time for the managers responsible for hiring to get back to you. When you start looking for a job during spring, you begin to stress because you are always afraid that you won't find a job here and be forced to move home. Also, a word of caution: if you do work for some of the retail pharmacies in SF, you might not work full time, meaning that you won't get 40 hours/week.
If you are lucky enough to find an intern position that allows you to work full-time, it should be easy to complete the required 900 hours of pharmacy experience in 2 summers. You can earn the other 600 hours when you do rotations.
Many of my classmates work about 4-12 hours per week, mainly to secure a position for the summer and also to earn extra money. Most, I'm guessing, manage to do well in their course and manage a social life at the same time.
People at UCSF are extremely helpful, UCSFpharmgirl being the perfect example. For example, we always send out to the entire class study questions, cheat sheets, and practice tests. My class is pretty serious when it comes to studying, but we try to help each other out as much as possible. One time, a lot of my classmates performed poorly on our second p-chem midterm, so our class president set up a tutoring program where other classmates who did well helped the ones who needed assistance. Yeah, there will always be a few people you don't get along with, but that happens in almost every social setting.
I don't think the school where you get your PharmD will determine how many digits will appear on your paycheck. It might get you an interview, but that's probably it. Your compensation will be based more on what kind of job you get, where you live, and what kinds of skill you bring to your employer. For a recent UCSF PharmD graduate who wants to work in the Bay Area as a retail pharmacist, the starting salary is around $90K.
At the end of the day, it's about which program invigorates you. I chose UCSF for that reason.
The research opp's and the environment triggered something. It made me excited with the thought of being in such a unique setting. It's the real deal. The only thing going on in this place is science, health, and more science. From my experience, it was focused, friendly, open minded, and diverse. I'm naturally competitive, so if tha's the case so be it. I know many share past tests and seem to help each other a lot, actually, but competition doesn't matter to me.
It was about what UCSF stands for in the science world and for public universities. Jobs, internships, networking...baa...makes it interesting, I'll make it through.
This all sounds rather cliche or contrived, but that's how I saw it and how I see it.
The ranking and all of that wasn't even it, just happens to be seen as such.