Applying to PharmD/PhD program after entering pharmacy school?

LatePrePharm

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I'm applying to pharmacy school this fall. Research really interests me but I'm not 100% sure if I'd want to get a PhD and I don't have enough experience to get accepted into a program considering I only did 1 year of research as an undergrad.

I noticed that some pharmacy schools let you apply for the dual program before your second year of pharmacy school. Do you think that working in a lab my first 1-2 years of pharmacy school could make me competitive for PharmD/PhD programs? Or would I likely be beaten out by people with more research experience? And how competitive is PharmD/PhD in general?
 

lord999

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So, the dual degree isn't the MSTP, where there are both financial (tuition is waived) and admission (MSTP admissions are notoriously easier than regular, and a lot of the MSTP admissions is looking out for the fakers who go into MSTP to get easier admission and then drop out). What happens to shorten the time is instead of taking the PharmD version of the classes, you'll instead take the graduate form of the class which means for your PharmD portion, certain classes get much tougher without respite from the other clinical ones and the fact that you'll be tending lab. It's fairly stressful for the dual degree, and they have to work really hard, but they do shave off a year or two from their training, although none of them that I have known have gone into practice (to lead me to ask them WTH did you get the PharmD anyway unless you're a Clinical Trials major where the PharmD is given some regulatory privileges.)

https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/InstPredoc/Pages/PredocInst-MSTP.aspx

It's not going to matter either way, you'll get admiited. There's a low conversion rate to the dual degree program as it's quite a bit more expensive to undertake than undergraduate. It's also highly dependent on your graduate major as well.

If Pharmaceutics, I hope you have Physical Chemistry (which has an implicit background of a full year of Calculus and some experience with Differential) as a prerequisite to a couple of classes (the ones that involve solubility and diffusion).

If Pharmacokinetics, you must have had Ordinary Differential as the very first class using the Loftsson or the Gibaldi assume you have it. You'll need to get a class in numerical methods during the program unless you've had it as a prerequisite.

If Pharmacology/Med Chem, it's very dependent on the school, but it's nice to have some knowledge of Animal Physiology as well as the full year of Human as well as Analytic Chemistry at the Skoog level. You should seek out your prospective laboratories and figure that out what the actual and implicit requirements for the laboratory are, since the field is diverse.

If Clinical Trials or Regulatory, I basically would say if you have the background to read Clinical Trials by Piantadosi and follow the math and statistical reasoning, you'll be fine (some Calculus, some linear algebra, some statistics).

If Biostatistics, you will need both Real Analysis (Baby Rudin or equivalent) and Measure Theory (Tao or one of the Russians) to take on the Jun Shao Mathematical Statistics book.
 
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DIPEA

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So, the dual degree isn't the MSTP, where there are both financial (tuition is waived) and admission (MSTP admissions are notoriously easier than regular, and a lot of the MSTP admissions is looking out for the fakers who go into MSTP to get easier admission and then drop out). What happens to shorten the time is instead of taking the PharmD version of the classes, you'll instead take the graduate form of the class which means for your PharmD portion, certain classes get much tougher without respite from the other clinical ones and the fact that you'll be tending lab. It's fairly stressful for the dual degree, and they have to work really hard, but they do shave off a year or two from their training, although none of them that I have known have gone into practice (to lead me to ask them WTH did you get the PharmD anyway unless you're a Clinical Trials major where the PharmD is given some regulatory privileges.)

https://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/InstPredoc/Pages/PredocInst-MSTP.aspx

It's not going to matter either way, you'll get admiited. There's a low conversion rate to the dual degree program as it's quite a bit more expensive to undertake than undergraduate. It's also highly dependent on your graduate major as well.

If Pharmaceutics, I hope you have Physical Chemistry (which has an implicit background of a full year of Calculus and some experience with Differential) as a prerequisite to a couple of classes (the ones that involve solubility and diffusion).

If Pharmacokinetics, you must have had Ordinary Differential as the very first class using the Loftsson or the Gibaldi assume you have it. You'll need to get a class in numerical methods during the program unless you've had it as a prerequisite.

If Pharmacology/Med Chem, it's very dependent on the school, but it's nice to have some knowledge of Animal Physiology as well as the full year of Human as well as Analytic Chemistry at the Skoog level. You should seek out your prospective laboratories and figure that out what the actual and implicit requirements for the laboratory are, since the field is diverse.

If Clinical Trials or Regulatory, I basically would say if you have the background to read Clinical Trials by Piantadosi and follow the math and statistical reasoning, you'll be fine (some Calculus, some linear algebra, some statistics).

If Biostatistics, you will need both Real Analysis (Baby Rudin or equivalent) and Measure Theory (Tao or one of the Russians) to take on the Jun Shao Mathematical Statistics book.
Why getting that PharmD?
Job security? there's a glut of PhD in this country. Having a PharmD/PhD can really prepare for a rainy day. You can almost always fall back on retail. Or in case there's a PharmD glut, maybe that PhD can save you:)
 

lord999

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Why getting that PharmD?
Job security? there's a glut of PhD in this country. Having a PharmD/PhD can really prepare for a rainy day. You can almost always fall back on retail. Or in case there's a PharmD glut, maybe that PhD can save you:)
That's unfortunately not the way it works in practice, and the MSTP candidates and the PharmD/PhD candidates share the same problem. There are extremely rare circumstances where both are absolutely required (specific regulatory, environmental toxicology, and specific clinical trials do require both a clinical and a research background for hiring). Most of the time, you work in one or the other, however, as you progress in one, the other door shuts on you. I don't believe I'd be hired as a pure hospital pharmacist as of today even though I served as such at the start of my career and possess a board certification as I'm too far out of practice that any reasonable DoP should have some real worries about hiring me clinically (if it's a DoP or an oversight job though, I'm still game). What the PharmD does if you are going for a PhD as well is somewhat hone the perspective on what is being researched to what you would probably use in practice. This is especially nice for clinical trials and in my case for informatics (I can dogfood my own programs and designs as well as deal with the regulatory oversight for those matters). Likewise, if I worked inpatient and outpatient without working on technical matters, you will lose skills that are not particularly relevant outside those areas (for me, that'd be my advanced statistics, electrical engineering, and programming at the M and Assembly levels).

It was a lot easier a decision when the pharmacists could clearly take the degree as an undergraduate (BS Pharmacy, then PhD), but if it's BS, PharmD/PhD, that's a hard effort to consider unless you're really wanting to have a situation with both. Otherwise, you're better off just finishing off your basic science undergraduate and hitting the PhD hard. There's someone else on this board though who is a PhD (you never lose your memory of dissertation writing, no matter how much you want to), who works as a pharmacist now who went the opposite direction. As for me, neither degree was required in my case, but the way I perform my job, they're both needed and my predecessor was an MD/PhD and I expect my successor to be in that same level just due to the amount of cross-work needed.

MSTP candidates have it even harder. There's a fairly limited ability to work in occupations that demand both skillsets outside of possibly Radiology/Nuclear Medicine and Lab Medicine/Pathology (where both of those medical specialties essentially force their fellows to get ABD status in their fields). It's said that they are neither physicians nor researchers due to the compressed schedule for their graduation. It's the very rare MD/PhD that can make use of both skillsets simultaneously and that takes some placement effort.
 
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DIPEA

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That's unfortunately not the way it works in practice, and the MSTP candidates and the PharmD/PhD candidates share the same problem. There are extremely rare circumstances where both are absolutely required (specific regulatory, environmental toxicology, and specific clinical trials do require both a clinical and a research background for hiring). Most of the time, you work in one or the other, however, as you progress in one, the other door shuts on you. I don't believe I'd be hired as a pure hospital pharmacist as of today even though I served as such at the start of my career and possess a board certification as I'm too far out of practice that any reasonable DoP should have some real worries about hiring me clinically (if it's a DoP or an oversight job though, I'm still game). What the PharmD does if you are going for a PhD as well is somewhat hone the perspective on what is being researched to what you would probably use in practice. This is especially nice for clinical trials and in my case for informatics (I can dogfood my own programs and designs as well as deal with the regulatory oversight for those matters). Likewise, if I worked inpatient and outpatient without working on technical matters, you will lose skills that are not particularly relevant outside those areas (for me, that'd be my advanced statistics, electrical engineering, and programming at the M and Assembly levels).

It was a lot easier a decision when the pharmacists could clearly take the degree as an undergraduate (BS Pharmacy, then PhD), but if it's BS, PharmD/PhD, that's a hard effort to consider unless you're really wanting to have a situation with both. Otherwise, you're better off just finishing off your basic science undergraduate and hitting the PhD hard. There's someone else on this board though who is a PhD (you never lose your memory of dissertation writing, no matter how much you want to), who works as a pharmacist now who went the opposite direction. As for me, neither degree was required in my case, but the way I perform my job, they're both needed and my predecessor was an MD/PhD and I expect my successor to be in that same level just due to the amount of cross-work needed.

MSTP candidates have it even harder. There's a fairly limited ability to work in occupations that demand both skillsets outside of possibly Radiology/Nuclear Medicine and Lab Medicine/Pathology (where both of those medical specialties essentially force their fellows to get ABD status in their fields). It's said that they are neither physicians nor researchers due to the compressed schedule for their graduation. It's the very rare MD/PhD that can make use of both skillsets simultaneously and that takes some placement effort.
Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate that.

I am actually an incoming P1 student, and I am seriously considering the PharmD/PhD route right now. My school, which is a research powerhouse, currently only has separate PharmD & PhD in pharmaceutical science, but not the joint program. Personally, I really don't mind spending an extra 5 years on PhD after PharmD, as long as I work under a famous PI with lots of industrial & governmental connections.

My case might be a little bit special. Right now I am working in a big biotech's R&D side, and I already have a master in analytical chem. My ultimate career goal would be in either industry or government. I might do retail on a per-diem basis, but I really don't like taking that as my primary 9-to-5 job.

I browse my company's job posting page on a regular basis. What I have noticed is this: with only a PharmD, there might be an invisible glass ceiling, at associate director/director level, at least that's the case with my company, which highly emphasizes R&D and innovation rather than business. With only a PhD, it might be possible to reach associate director/director level, through the scientist track, but from what I have seen/heard so far, it is very time-consuming and extremely competitive.

Recent job postings for Sr. medical science director positions at my company typically ask for an advanced clinical degree (MD or PharmD), with preference given to joint PhD degree holders.

Technical skill-wise, I agree that it is rare to find positions to fully utilize both the clinical and research skillsets. Even at my current R&D job, it may only require a fraction of what I have learned in school to get the work done. But we live in an increasingly competitive world, with volatile job market. In order to stay competitive for years to come, I really believe PharmD/PhD worth the time & energy investment. Upward mobility is also a concern. The last thing I would ever want to do is going back to school in my mid-40s when I realize I might have hit a glass ceiling.
 

lord999

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Then you have the right sort of attitude toward it. You're doing the PhD because you want to, not because you have to. You're aware that it may be used as a union card (it practically is for academia as I don't believe many PharmD faculty are kept on tenure track anymore), but you're completely right at the industrial level that PharmD's almost never make it beyond AD and that's a career ending promotion where the PhD's in the same divisions trivially will make AD, D, and usually SD/VP Section (sometimes as a kick upstairs for good workers who aren't lucky researchers, I view luck as an essential qualification) ranks as a career ending. Now, for those in your position, most of them (and I would be included if I were industry), would not make it past D as Research that I personally work on and oversee >>>> Research Management. From the financial standpoint, that's actually money losing as compared with just sticking it out with the low rank PharmD and working a career, but the point of the PhD is to be able to go "I'm in charge and this is what I want my Igors to do" rather than the pay alone. Government has similar and more profound differences in power even though the pay gap is much more narrow.

BIO has a different promotion track that PhRMA though. In PhRMA, you'd have to leapfrog companies and government positions to promote from AD and onwards (if you're aren't laid off first), but BIO tends to keep matter closer to their chest and not randomly lay off people. If you're already a good fit for your BIO company, for now, putting down loyalty roots seems to be a good idea.
 

DIPEA

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Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate that.

I am actually an incoming P1 student, and I am seriously considering the PharmD/PhD route right now. My school, which is a research powerhouse, currently only has separate PharmD & PhD in pharmaceutical science, but not the joint program. Personally, I really don't mind spending an extra 5 years on PhD after PharmD, as long as I work under a famous PI with lots of industrial & governmental connections.

My case might be a little bit special. Right now I am working in a big biotech's R&D side, and I already have a master in analytical chem. My ultimate career goal would be in either industry or government. I might do retail on a per-diem basis, but I really don't like taking that as my primary 9-to-5 job.

I browse my company's job posting page on a regular basis. What I have noticed is this: with only a PharmD, there might be an invisible glass ceiling, at associate director/director level, at least that's the case with my company, which highly emphasizes R&D and innovation rather than business. With only a PhD, it might be possible to reach associate director/director level, through the scientist track, but from what I have seen/heard so far, it is very time-consuming and extremely competitive.

Recent job postings for Sr. medical science director positions at my company typically ask for an advanced clinical degree (MD or PharmD), with preference given to joint PhD degree holders.

Technical skill-wise, I agree that it is rare to find positions to fully utilize both the clinical and research skillsets. Even at my current R&D job, it may only require a fraction of what I have learned in school to get the work done. But we live in an increasingly competitive world, with volatile job market. In order to stay competitive for years to come, I really believe PharmD/PhD worth the time & energy investment. Upward mobility is also a concern. The last thing I would ever want to do is going back to school in my mid-40s when I realize I might have hit a glass ceiling.
Then you have the right sort of attitude toward it. You're doing the PhD because you want to, not because you have to. You're aware that it may be used as a union card (it practically is for academia as I don't believe many PharmD faculty are kept on tenure track anymore), but you're completely right at the industrial level that PharmD's almost never make it beyond AD and that's a career ending promotion where the PhD's in the same divisions trivially will make AD, D, and usually SD/VP Section (sometimes as a kick upstairs for good workers who aren't lucky researchers, I view luck as an essential qualification) ranks as a career ending. Now, for those in your position, most of them (and I would be included if I were industry), would not make it past D as Research that I personally work on and oversee >>>> Research Management. From the financial standpoint, that's actually money losing as compared with just sticking it out with the low rank PharmD and working a career, but the point of the PhD is to be able to go "I'm in charge and this is what I want my Igors to do" rather than the pay alone. Government has similar and more profound differences in power even though the pay gap is much more narrow.

BIO has a different promotion track that PhRMA though. In PhRMA, you'd have to leapfrog companies and government positions to promote from AD and onwards (if you're aren't laid off first), but BIO tends to keep matter closer to their chest and not randomly lay off people. If you're already a good fit for your BIO company, for now, putting down loyalty roots seems to be a good idea.
You are absolutely correct! ~80% of the VPs and Sr. VPs in charge of the research & technical divisions at my company are like MD/PhDs, and the rest are just PhDs. The highest rank reached by a PharmD I have seen so far is Sr. medical science director, but she had 15+ years of experience and had been with this company for more than a decade.

Financially speaking, I think most big biotech companies pay really well, especially for management positions. My boss, who is a Sr. scientist, is actually a PharmD/PhD. But he got his PharmD in France (he's French), and later got his PhD at UCSF under a famous PI. He is right now making >200k annually, including all cash & stock bonuses, also with great perks and weekends/holidays off. He definitely appears to have a very good work & life balance. I heard our Sr. director makes twice as much as my boss, but he is a workaholic, usually the first to come, the last to leave. Of course everything depends on which company to work for, but I think all big brand names in biotech have similar compensation structure, in terms of qualification & experience. They would certainly pay a premium to get the right people, and I seriously doubt any retail pharmacists in the nearby area, maybe except DMs, would ever make >200k a year and still enjoy the same level of work & life balance.
 

y0ssarian87

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I considered the same path, and my electives last year included the first year PhD courses plus some other electives that would be applicable for the PhD elective component. Ultimately, I've decided against this path. The opportunity cost is too high; I'm a bit older than my peers; and the accumulation of interest on my (large) PharmD loans is just too much. Ultimately I'm settling for a MS dual-degree program -- no additional tuition and ends at the same time as my PharmD.

Just things to think about: what will you do in the first few years after your PhD? A fellowship? If so, where? For how long? What is your end-goal -- lots of money, a C-level position, a technical role? Is the PhD the best use of your time? Is the PharmD the best use of your time? How old are you now?


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LatePrePharm

LatePrePharm

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I'll be 24 when I start pharmacy school.Based on what lord999 and yossarian87 wrote, it looks like an MS would appeal to me more than a PhD the more I think about it. I looked around at my top school and they offer a "PharmD/MS in Clinical and Translational Science". But they also offer several postgraduate fellowship programs in clinical research. If I want to be a pharmacist who overlooks the dosing, designing of protocols and procedures, etc for study drugs would an MS or fellowship be better?