Apr 23, 2020
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Hi, I'm trying to make a decision about which school to attend next fall.
Yes, I have thought about my decision. Yes, I know pharmacy is flooded.
I am accepted to two schools. One is an established school and one is a diploma mill type school. I've spoken to students and grads from both schools and the consensus seems to be that you CAN get jobs/residencies from both schools and you can also end up unemployed from both (as the constant topic of this forum is).
The less respected school is offering me a good scholarship that would make it substantially cheaper to attend. I know the advice on this forum is usually to attend the cheaper school, but I'd like to hear what you would recommend in this situation, when the cheaper school is really not considered a good school. It's not on probation now but it has been in the past.
I'm hoping to become a clinical pharmacist, so I'd like to hear about this from a residency perspective as well. (If not clinical, I'm also considering LTC.)
No trolls please, I'm really looking for serious advice.
Thank you!
 
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deleted562805

Hi, I'm trying to make a decision about which school to attend next fall.
Yes, I have thought about my decision. Yes, I know pharmacy is flooded.
I am accepted to two schools. One is an established school and one is a diploma mill type school. I've spoken to students and grads from both schools and the consensus seems to be that you CAN get jobs/residencies from both schools and you can also end up unemployed from both (as the constant topic of this forum is).
The less respected school is offering me a good scholarship that would make it substantially cheaper to attend. I know the advice on this forum is usually to attend the cheaper school, but I'd like to hear what you would recommend in this situation, when the cheaper school is really not considered a good school. It's not on probation now but it has been in the past.
I'm hoping to become a clinical pharmacist, so I'd like to hear about this from a residency perspective as well. (If not clinical, I'm also considering LTC.)
No trolls please, I'm really looking for serious advice.
Thank you!
What does the established school have to offer? More rotational opportunities? More clinical focused? More network? Just curious if you do not mind me asking, what’s your GPA? Have you taken the PCAT? Why clinical pharmacy? What is it about clinical pharmacy that you like that you cannot do something similar or more in PA, NP, or MD/DO school?
Have you worked as a hospital intern prior to applying to these schools?
 
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The established school has a better network. It has more of an industry focus actually, which is not something I'm interested in, but it offers good clinical opportunities as well. The other school is actually more clinically focused.
I have a 3.8 GPA and scored in the 98th percentile on the PCAT.
I haven't worked as a hospital intern (I was planning on getting that type of experience before Covid came along) but spoke to many clinical pharmacists and the job appeals to me.
I like the idea of being patient-facing without physical contact which honestly disturbs me. I've worked in a doctor's office and the hands-on work honestly grosses me out. I get that there are specialties out there which would have the same gig but at this point in time it would take me another two years between getting shadowing and volunteering hours and studying for the MCAT etc. to get to med school. I'm sort of toying with the idea of starting pharmacy school and then applying to med school since if I go to the cheaper school the first two years of pharmacy school are practically free... That's probably a bad idea though and just a way of putting off a decision.
Edited to add that one thing putting me off about MD is work/life balance- getting called on emergencies etc.
 
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The established school has a better network. It has more of an industry focus actually, which is not something I'm interested in, but it offers good clinical opportunities as well. The other school is actually more clinically focused.
I have a 3.8 GPA and scored in the 98th percentile on the PCAT.
I haven't worked as a hospital intern (I was planning on getting that type of experience before Covid came along) but spoke to many clinical pharmacists and the job appeals to me.
I like the idea of being patient-facing without physical contact which honestly disturbs me. I've worked in a doctor's office and the hands-on work honestly grosses me out. I get that there are specialties out there which would have the same gig but at this point in time it would take me another two years between getting shadowing and volunteering hours and studying for the MCAT etc. to get to med school. I'm sort of toying with the idea of starting pharmacy school and then applying to med school since if I go to the cheaper school the first two years of pharmacy school are practically free... That's probably a bad idea though and just a way of putting off a decision.
Edited to add that one thing putting me off about MD is work/life balance- getting called on emergencies etc.
If you are Going the PharmD than MD, then you would have to do the pre-med courses again because they would be expired and you won’t have a bachelors degree because you said you don’t want to waste two extra years
 
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What I meant by two years is I would need to wait a year for the new admissions cycle and then another until I would start.
 

Saiyo

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Going to an established school did nothing for me. What network? My coworkers were all from random schools anyways
 
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The impression that I got was that professors were better connected so that could help me get a residency.
I understand that in retail it doesn't make a difference.
 

KidPharmD

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So many problems. First, without knowing the two schools there is really no way for us to tell you. Second, we used to tell pre-pharms that it didn't matter what school you went to, but that has changed. With more graduates than jobs/residencies hiring managers and search committees are using everything to differentiate candidates (including school). There is also the the additional problem of "diploma mill" type schools often having very few connections in the residency/clinical pharmacy world.

Honestly, I am not sure that my work/life balance is any better than many of the attending physicians I work with. Many of them, in fact, work fewer in house hours than I do


Listen, I am all for encouraging enthusiastic pharmacy students who have a good financial plan and understand what they are getting in to, but you don't seem like one of those.
 
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Listen, I am all for encouraging enthusiastic pharmacy students who have a good financial plan and understand what they are getting in to, but you don't seem like one of those.

I'd like to be one of those. What do you suggest that I do? I'm operating on limited time and don't think I am able to get real-world experience right now.
 

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If the more well established school increases your chances of getting a job/residency/fellowship, I say go there. In the past, schools didn't matter that much because pharmacists were in demand, but now if you look at employment stats/residency match rates/NAPLEX pass rates you'll see that there will be high variations between different schools. Furthermore why does a scholarship matter? Think about it: you chose pharmacy knowing that it is a field with negative job growth, decreasing opportunities, and declining salaries. I think it's safe to assume that money does not matter much to you and that you are doing this out of pure passion?
 
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@Timbo I'm going to assume you mean what you are saying seriously (though can catch the sarcasm). Thanks for your advice. I am not doing it for the money but I don't want to be in debt forever either obviously... I really think this career suits my interests and abilities but obviously if I don't get a job that will be pointless. So I'm trying to find the balance point between price/opportunity.
 

Timbo

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@Timbo I'm going to assume you mean what you are saying seriously (though can catch the sarcasm). Thanks for your advice. I am not doing it for the money but I don't want to be in debt forever either obviously... I really think this career suits my interests and abilities but obviously if I don't get a job that will be pointless. So I'm trying to find the balance point between price/opportunity.
Well let me help you get started crunching some numbers. I currently work inpatient at 32 hours a week for a salary of about $80k per year (including low census). I previously worked retail for $57/hr, +40 h/week... that's about $120k/year. However I know this past year wages have since dropped to high 40s to low 50s in my area and it is difficult to find 40h positions. Mind you this is now, so plan for wages to continue dropping. It's simple law of supply and demand. Schools keep graduating PharmDs in record high numbers but job growth is negative. I would say try to be conservative and expect a salary of $70-80k/year

How much debt are you expecting to graduate with? If $200k, and assuming a 10 year payment plan and 7% interest rate, you will be paying about $2k per month. So your $75k/year salary is now actually $50k/year after loans, pretax. You'll essentially be making about what an average person with a bachelor's degree will be making for the next 10 years (but because you went and got a doctorate, you'll be 4-6 years behind in terms of saving for retirement, saving for a home, etc). After 10 years, you'll be done with loans and finally be making $80k - heck you may even have enough saved for a down payment on a home. That's about what an average person with a master's makes, except you did 2-4 extra years of school compared to them, graduated with twice the debt, and took you twice as long to become a home owner.

Of course this is just an example scenario but it's reasonable I think. Your salary will most likely be below average for your education level. You should crunch your own numbers specific to your financial situation and weigh that vs if this is really what you want to do.
 
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2019 graduate so let me weigh in here on a few things. I went to a well established state school and paid very little for my education; because of that and some other smart financial decisions (no help from family or scholarships) I paid off my student loans a few months ago. So I would always recommend going where ever tuition is the cheapest. I should also mention that I'm currently a hospital staff pharmacist who didn't do a residency. I went out of my way in my 4th year to get rotations that I thought would advance my knowledge and help me better land a job, and guess what? It didn't make one bit of difference. The only thing that made a difference were my faculty lead rotations, I felt I learned a lot at those. I know some of these diploma mills don't have many faculty lead rotations so look into that between these two programs. Those are important in choosing a school. I'm frustrated that I put myself and my family through so much stress to go to these random rotations and it didn't make any difference, but not much I can do now other than warn others.
Everyone isn't really being clear when they're saying a school's reputation makes a difference in jobs/residencies. My school did make a difference, but only because one of the hiring managers went to my school. It's almost like a fraternity in that if you know someone went to your alma mater, you'll immediately connect with them and be more open to hiring them. The hiring manager in my case didn't reach out to anyone from my school for a recommendation but still obviously hired me.
Also I really don't know any clinical pharmacists who put in more than 40 hours per week (unless they're a residency director or something). Except for ER pharmacists, all the clinical pharmacists I've met are M-F 6-3 or something similar with holidays off. Seems like a pretty good work life balance to me.
Also pay ranges are all over the place here. I can confirm that retail has been lowering their starting wages, but hospital is the same to slightly raising them. I don't know if everyone else works for hospitals that are single facilities and not part of a larger health system but I make significantly more than everyone else on this forum it seems (and I'm in a red state). For my staff position it ranges from 98k to 164k and that's with no promotions, just yearly raises (I've known pharmacists to stay on long enough to make that cap out as a staff pharmacist). I will admit that's at 40 hours per week (which most positions are) but that's with no overtime which depending on the facility occasionally you can pick up OT, or possibly at another facility since it's part of a larger health system.
 
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mentos

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I've spoken to students and grads from both schools and the consensus seems to be that you CAN get jobs/residencies from both schools.

You CAN win the lottery as well which is basically what getting a clinical pharmacist position in 2024 will be like.
 
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BidingMyTime

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I think your #1 consideration should be which school has better NAPLEX pass rates (I'm guessing it is the established school.)

Also, it's extremely unlikely you will be a clinical pharmacist. *Only* go to pharmacy school if you are willing to work as a retail pharmacist, because that is where 70% of the jobs.

Assuming the NAPLEX pass rate is similar, what kind of loan difference are you talking between the 2 schools? If you could get through diploma mill with $40,000 loans, and the established school with $200,000.....well, both are bad deals, but I would go with the cheaper diploma mill. But I suspect the scholarship the diploma mill is giving you, isn't really that great.

Also, what is the fine print of the diploma mill scholarship? Do you have to stay in the top 10% of your class (because chances are you won't....) Is the scholarship guaranteed for all 4 years, or can the school take it away at anytime?

Will the diploma school guarantee you rotations your last year, or are you expected to find your own?
 
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@prepharmer, it does not matter what school you go too. Any pharmacy school will take you. It is that easy to get accepted to an established school or diploma mill. Please listen to Paul Tran, a hospital pharmacist with 5 years of experience.

 
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@BidingMyTime, the established school will cost me about 120K, while the diploma mill will be about 70K. I don't think I'll have to take out the full amount in loans, but definitely the majority of it. You're right, I'll need to maintain a GPA of 3.25 in order to keep the scholarship.
The established school has a NAPLEX pass rate in low 90s, while the other school has a pass rate in the high 70s.
Yes, they will arrange rotations in the final year.
 
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@Rx1992, I'm aware. I am still getting emails from random pharmacy schools telling me that there is still time to apply lol. And pretty much all the pharmacists I spoke to were honest about the state of the job market. And I'm definitely conflicted. But I don't see a point in running off in another direction unless I feel sure about it, when I've been working towards one goal for a while. For right now, pharmacy seems to be the best option (although if you have other ideas of healthcare careers which make sense for my reasons above, please let me know!)
 

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The established school has a better network. It has more of an industry focus actually, which is not something I'm interested in, but it offers good clinical opportunities as well. The other school is actually more clinically focused.
I have a 3.8 GPA and scored in the 98th percentile on the PCAT.
I haven't worked as a hospital intern (I was planning on getting that type of experience before Covid came along) but spoke to many clinical pharmacists and the job appeals to me.
I like the idea of being patient-facing without physical contact which honestly disturbs me. I've worked in a doctor's office and the hands-on work honestly grosses me out. I get that there are specialties out there which would have the same gig but at this point in time it would take me another two years between getting shadowing and volunteering hours and studying for the MCAT etc. to get to med school. I'm sort of toying with the idea of starting pharmacy school and then applying to med school since if I go to the cheaper school the first two years of pharmacy school are practically free... That's probably a bad idea though and just a way of putting off a decision.
Edited to add that one thing putting me off about MD is work/life balance- getting called on emergencies etc.

Is there a reason you're gravitating towards healthcare in the first place? You could consider MPH or healthcare administration if you're not set on patient care.
 

KidPharmD

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@BidingMyTime, the established school will cost me about 120K, while the diploma mill will be about 70K. I don't think I'll have to take out the full amount in loans, but definitely the majority of it. You're right, I'll need to maintain a GPA of 3.25 in order to keep the scholarship.
The established school has a NAPLEX pass rate in low 90s, while the other school has a pass rate in the high 70s.
Yes, they will arrange rotations in the final year.

High 70's overall pass rate is in the bottom 20% of pharmacy schools.
 
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Is there a reason you're gravitating towards healthcare in the first place? You could consider MPH or healthcare administration if you're not set on patient care.
I like healthcare because I enjoy the sciences (biology, chemistry) and it's cool to see these things manifest in real people. I've worked in both healthcare and office jobs and I got way more job satisfaction from healthcare-- what you're doing makes a difference in people's lives and you feel the difference.
I've honestly never looked into MPH. What kind of background would I need? What do you do with the degree afterward?
 
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I like healthcare because I enjoy the sciences (biology, chemistry) and it's cool to see these things manifest in real people. I've worked in both healthcare and office jobs and I got way more job satisfaction from healthcare-- what you're doing makes a difference in people's lives and you feel the difference.
I've honestly never looked into MPH. What kind of background would I need? What do you do with the degree afterward?

Don't have a ton of pharmacy exposure, but the odds of you seeing those things is gonna be a lot higher in a hands-on field (MD/DO, PA, NP, PT). MPH can be used for a variety of things but I'm also not the best person to speak to those. You could look into clinical research, although some of those positions are hands-on with patients too depending on the type of clinical trial.
 

BidingMyTime

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@BidingMyTime, the established school will cost me about 120K, while the diploma mill will be about 70K. I don't think I'll have to take out the full amount in loans, but definitely the majority of it. You're right, I'll need to maintain a GPA of 3.25 in order to keep the scholarship.
The established school has a NAPLEX pass rate in low 90s, while the other school has a pass rate in the high 70s.
Yes, they will arrange rotations in the final year.

If you are set on going, I would go to the established school, based on the pass rate difference. You don't want to be one of the many people who graduate pharmacy school, and then can't pass the NAPLEX.
 
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@Rx1992, I'm aware. I am still getting emails from random pharmacy schools telling me that there is still time to apply lol. And pretty much all the pharmacists I spoke to were honest about the state of the job market. And I'm definitely conflicted. But I don't see a point in running off in another direction unless I feel sure about it, when I've been working towards one goal for a while. For right now, pharmacy seems to be the best option (although if you have other ideas of healthcare careers which make sense for my reasons above, please let me know!)
I know you might be thinking clinical pharmacy. But pharmacy residency programs are letting out 4,000 residents per year and many of them will not get the jobs they worked so hard to train for. Truth, there is not many clinical positions out there as majority of the jobs are still retail pharmacy. Please listen to Tony Guerra, PharmD, a PGY-1 resident trained pharmacist who graduated in 2008 and is now working at a community college, while his wife a PGY-1 resident graduated in 2008 and is now working for a grocery store retail. The same grocery store she worked as a intern during pharmacy school! Can you believe that?
 
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deleted562805

@Rx1992, I'm aware. I am still getting emails from random pharmacy schools telling me that there is still time to apply lol. And pretty much all the pharmacists I spoke to were honest about the state of the job market. And I'm definitely conflicted. But I don't see a point in running off in another direction unless I feel sure about it, when I've been working towards one goal for a while. For right now, pharmacy seems to be the best option (although if you have other ideas of healthcare careers which make sense for my reasons above, please let me know!)

Your pre pharm courses are similar to pre med courses or pre PA courses. If you truly want clinical medicine, medical school, PA school, BSN are way better alternatives. Health informatics is also another good career if you don’t care for direct patient care
 
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@BidingMyTime, thank you for the advice.
Your pre pharm courses are similar to pre med courses or pre PA courses. If you truly want clinical medicine, medical school, PA school, BSN are way better alternatives. Health informatics is also another good career if you don’t care for direct patient care
My thing is that I kind of do want direct patient care (or at least patient contact), just not hands-on.
That said, I could look into health informatics. Don't you need a computer science background though? Because I don't have that.
 
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deleted562805

@BidingMyTime, thank you for the advice.

My thing is that I kind of do want direct patient care (or at least patient contact), just not hands-on.
That said, I could look into health informatics. Don't you need a computer science background though? Because I don't have that.
You may have to take pre-reqs for health informatics, but you won’t be without a job. Health informatics is in demand too.

I just posted a podcast on the joblessness of pharmacy residents. A podcaster telling residents to go work at a bank. 4,000 pharmacy residents graduate each year applying for one or two job positions based on speciality. Every year competition is fierce for pharmacy residency , mainly PGY-1. 2,000 applicants apply for 300 positions, only 60% get matched. That’s harder than medical school or PA school with a 80% match rate.

Do you honestly want to go through that much schooling as much as a physician or PA without autonomy, prescribing power or salary raises or without the recognition of being called a health care provider?

Pharmacy is a legal expense to a hospital and does not generate revenue for a hospital unlike physician or PA. Many of those clinical and hospital jobs did not require a residency back in the 2000-2008, so why now? Because there is a saturation of new grads. Residency is just used for cheap labor, nothing more. A credentialing tool to sift out the competent pharmacists from the poor pharmacists. And now there is a saturation of residency graduates as 4,000 graduate each year from their respective residency programs.And many of them do not get the jobs they were trained for. There was a PGY-2 Critical Care on this forum who is now working for Dairy Queen. There is a PGY-1 resident who only got a retail speciality job even though he did a hospital residency.

Do you really want to put yourself through that much of schooling only to get jobs that you would be overqualified for?

Medicine is a much better route for amount of years you spend in school and residency. Your salary will match the amount of debt so that you can pay into off faster.

Also there are areas of medicine where direct physical patient contact is not needed like radiologic oncology. Heck, you could do Medical informatics as a MD after medical school since you don’t like the physical direct patient work.

Health informatics is much shorter than pharmacy or medicine and although does require pre requisite CS courses. It is much better than slaving away 4 years for pharmacy school and slaving away in two years of a residency hoping for a job. You will get a job in health informatics if you willing to work hard. In pharmacy, even if you work hard, it does not guarantee you a job.
 
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Dred Pirate

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to truly answer this question we would need to know what schools and how much $$ - we have two schools that make up 75% of our workforce at my hospital - one definitely has a better reputation than the other - but we have had good hires and bad hires from both. Unless you are one of the very bad or very top schools - the actual school doesn't matter that much.
 
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@Timbo I'm going to assume you mean what you are saying seriously (though can catch the sarcasm). Thanks for your advice. I am not doing it for the money but I don't want to be in debt forever either obviously... I really think this career suits my interests and abilities but obviously if I don't get a job that will be pointless. So I'm trying to find the balance point between price/opportunity.
Theres always a job if you’re willing to relocate to areas that are less popular and more remote. Also, the military accepts pharmacists.
 

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all the clinical pharmacists I've met are M-F 6-3 or something similar with holidays off. Seems like a pretty good work life balance to me.
The most miserable weeks of my life were when I was on the hospital rotation with 6am-2:30pm hours. I lived about 45 minutes away, plus having to walk from the parking lot and then change and gown up for the IV room... it was generally out of the door before 5am. I would come home around 3:30, collapse and sleep until 7pm or so, eat dinner and then mope about, sleepy and miserable, until midnight-1am when I went to sleep again until 4-4:30am. I absolutely hated it and I was incapable of doing anything productive after work. That was the third thing cementing my decision to never willingly set a foot in a hospital pharmacy unless I had a lobotomy or some other drastic personality altering event.
 
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