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Rant: The lie that is pharmacy school rankings

Discussion in 'Pre-Pharmacy' started by WVUPharm2007, May 8, 2007.

  1. WVUPharm2007

    WVUPharm2007 imagine sisyphus happy
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    So I log onto my brother-in-law's laptop and his homepage is Yahoo. The first news story on the front page is about those infamous college rankings.

    Link to story on Yahoo

    And so I thought about these forums. Every now and then, someone goes and decides to ask for or, worse, tries themself to list the top pharmacy schools in the country. There isn't a person or organization in the country, let alone a poster on these forums, who is qualified enough to honestly give an objective opinion on every pharmacy school in country. I'd be surprised if any of you could honestly be able to rate two schools, because, as a person who has been in the system since August 2003, I sure as hell can't. I can rate WVU, but I would feel very uncomfortable rating any other school - even though I have worked closely with Pitt and Duquesne students, as well as have worked with Kentucky and Ohio State graduates, among other schools.

    As many of us know, there is this organization that actually tries to rate the pharmacy schools with this system that uses opinions of faculty at the differing schools and research money as the basis of rating schools.

    Does anyone else see how patently ******ed this is? First of, rating the PharmD program on how much cash the faculty gets for figuring out what CYP 3A4 does to patients with ED is stupid. That's not even debatable in my mind.

    But the other half is where the faux-credibility comes in. Ask collegues to rate each other. Sound nice, huh? But I and, apparently, the professors above, think this is equally as silly. How the hell can a professor at, say, USC's pharmacy school accurately rate the quality of pharmacy education at, say, Ohio State or VCU? How intimately do they know the abilities of a faculty thousands of miles away? Hell, I can't even tell you how well Bob at CVS down the street does as a pharmacist. How intimately do they know the intricacies of each individual ciriculum at any other school? I'd be surprised if the dean at my school knows my own school's cirriculum. Being that all schools conform to the accredidation standards of the ACPE, can there even be that much of a difference between individual schools? I know none of you can answer these questions, so I'm not even sure why I'm hitting shift+backslash so much. I digress.

    Nonetheless, finally, a group of colleges are standing up to the ridiculous "ratings" that the US News and World Report throws together annually. They are refusing to contribute to something they have no way of honestly and objectively contributing to - rating other colleges.


    Honestly - any time some guy tells you they go to the #4 or whatever pharmacy school in the country is a person that's been lied to. Kids going to San Fran? Florida? Kentucky? All those other highly touted schools - guess what, you aren't really going to one of the top schools in the country. Well, you might be, hell I don't know, but my point is that nobody knows. Unless there is a committee formed that compares RESULTS objectively (that would be NAPLEX scores, success in residency, how well they succeed in jobs post-graduation, etc.) for every single damned school in the nation, these rankings are just a magazine that is blowing smoke up everyone's collective asses.

    Thankfully nobody in the real world pays attention to these pharmacy school rankings so I have nothing to worry about. I have nothing against UCSF, UK, UF, or any other school, nor do hate that my school isn't in that top 25. I honestly don't care because I know better. It's just that the kids that read these prepharmacy forums are constantly getting laughably inaccurate advice, arbitrarily contrived advise, or advice that is wrongly extrapolated to a nationwide audience from people that too frequently have no idea what they are talking about. And...yeah...this is one of those cases.

    I don't want a kid from Buffalo, NY to refuse seeking an education at SUNY-Buffalo while trying to get in as an out-of-state student at some California school because of some stupid, hack magazine.

    Rant over.
     
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  3. omnione

    omnione SDN Pharmoderator
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    I'm #42, I'm #42........I'm #42......YEAH!:D


    Whatever....Creighton is letting me borrow a laptop so all is good.:)

    Seriously, I could care less about the rankings too....
     
  4. bamobrien

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    texas #2; hook'em. (though it is surprising two dinky older buildings can be ranked so high i'm not complaining.
     
  5. cdpiano27

    cdpiano27 Senior Member
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    I agree with this. But maybe in a residency, if someone is a graduate from a certain school they will give preference to other candidates from that same school. But it does not necessarily have to be those particular schools on the US News list.

    However, if it is a newer school, there would be less graduates in residency.

    So sometimes, the alumni connection does work. Especially in the pharmaceutical industry, for example.

    Anyway, I consider SUNY-Buffalo as good as the California schools such as UCSD, UCSF. They are tops in PK-PD. So if you want to do research in that area, Buffalo would probably be actually the best school.

    And finally, in retail, absolutely not!!
     
  6. WVUPharm2007

    WVUPharm2007 imagine sisyphus happy
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    I can't speak for the entire country, but the folks at WVU Hospitals do not take what school you graduated from into any consideration whatsoever.
     
  7. sdn1977

    sdn1977 Senior Member
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    Aren't the rankings based primarily on how much research money comes in?

    If research is your thing - perhaps that would sway your choice...but - even then.....if UCSF is not doing research on the dynamics of docusate in an alkali environment or some other topic which is personally important to you - then no amount of research money will help you there....

    You go where you can get funding.

    I never knew people really took those rankings seriously when making a choice.

    I think most of us do know the schools who have better graduates & those who have not so good graduates & that info is not really published.
     
  8. ForcedEntry

    ForcedEntry Lilo got stitched
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    It should be a double E, round-robin tourney. I hate the BCS.
     
  9. omnione

    omnione SDN Pharmoderator
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    Funny, because Florida's president has come out and flat out said that he wanted a Division I-A playoff despite just winning the BCS National Championship. Now that's sticking up for your principles!:)
     
  10. Farmercyst

    Farmercyst From the shadows
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    Don't these last two go into the Cycloketocaines NCAA Football thread.:rolleyes:
     
  11. ForcedEntry

    ForcedEntry Lilo got stitched
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    [​IMG]
     
  12. WVUPharm2007

    WVUPharm2007 imagine sisyphus happy
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    The only thing worse than the BCS would be just naming a champion after regular season play or that ridiculous system they used to have that let the Rose Bowl screw everything up.
     
  13. Insomniac12

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    and I was beginning to wonder how university of california at san francisco is so highly regarded by everyone on here, and proclaimed as everyones "dream" school since they saw a site with pharm school rankings and twas number one.

    I mean ucsf? heylll no. the school seems crap in general.


    I didn't even know the university of california system stretched that far.





    this post is not intended to offend anyone.
     
  14. Insomniac12

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    I like the roads in San Francisco though...they are nice and goofy.
     
  15. acetyl

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    It's the golden rule. He who has the gold makes the rules. Again, if you think the current ranking systems are so biased, why don't you make your own rankings? It's much easier to point a finger than...
     
  16. omnione

    omnione SDN Pharmoderator
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    I think the whole point is that there shouldn't be any rankings at all, not that any of us could do a better job.
     
  17. WVUPharm2007

    WVUPharm2007 imagine sisyphus happy
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    Ok, sure:

    1) (Tie.) Every school you don't go to.
    87) The school you go to.

    Infallible. From Mike's News and World Report.

    People appearing with the inability to understand what I type has been occuring frequently lately. What's up with that? I do like the fact that whenever people misinterpret whatever I write somebody else comes along and puts them in their place for me. Thanks, guy.
     
  18. Farmercyst

    Farmercyst From the shadows
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    But aren't there 100 schools now +/- (including various candidate statuses.):smuggrin:
     
  19. ForcedEntry

    ForcedEntry Lilo got stitched
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    I used to like Mike's News and World Report; however, it has devolved in bitter tirades. I have become apathetic.
     
  20. MichaelJames

    MichaelJames Pharmacy 4 Life
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    What I would like to know is what they base these rankings on! What makes one school 0.1 or 0.3 better than another? What is the criteria that the school is evaluated on other than whether or not its an accredited school of pharmacy?:confused:
     
  21. chibipinkbunny

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    Well they rank undergrad institutions as well. I have no idea if Harvard really is one of the best for undergrad institutions, but its pretty hard to get into so. . . I know that among the UC's there is arguement as to which ones are the best. Of course those at UC Berkeley would say Berkeley is the best but UC Davis, UCLA, UC San Diego also provide a good education. Not only that but many at Berkeley feel that it is better than Stanford :p. So what would make Berkeley supposedly better than other schools? Just because you go there doesn't necessarily mean that you are super smart, but the competition is fierce so the quality of student is a bit higher overall. So in a way the ratings don't mean something, but in another sense they kind of do. Just because the school you go to isn't ranked #1, doesn't mean you won't make just as good of a pharmacist as someone who goes to a #1 school. I guess my point is that the rankings aren't total rubbish, but then again they aren't facts either.
     
  22. MichaelJames

    MichaelJames Pharmacy 4 Life
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    Of the 76 schools of pharmacy located throughout the country, the University of California at San Francisco is rated as the #1 school.

    Anybody on the board ever applied there or attended UCSF?
     
  23. acetyl

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    Good job there buddy. That take you a few days to think up?

    So we are to tell prospective pharmacy students what about pharmacy schools? That they all are the same, or that it's impossible to rank them? We'll tell them to read about the school on the school's website and speak with current students at that school...but wait, that's extremely biased, too. So where can we find a third party that looks at all schools from a set criteria? I understand the rankings are biased, but how does one differentiate schools? The time and money spent earning a PharmD is incredible these days, and saying that all schools is equal would suggest that we tell future applicants to make their decision on where to apply, on what, cost, location, and the weather?
     
  24. evilolive

    evilolive Member
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    The rankings aren't the end-all-be-all, but they serve their purpose. Prestige is often correlated with people managing to do amazing things, and you can more likely than not count on graduates coming out of UCSF to be amazing in some way. The more the school produces graduates that hits the national radar, the more it deserves to be recognized. Also you'll notice that the schools at the top provide you with more educational versatility and options instead of making you a one-track pharmacist. If I were an ambitious individual, wouldn't I look for an institution that focuses on challenges not only the standard but also the boundaries of the profession? Top ranking schools tend to drive this focus; the rest follow suit due to the leadership.
     
  25. WVUPharm2007

    WVUPharm2007 imagine sisyphus happy
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    Being that it took me less than 1 day to reply - I would wager, no.

    Sure, why not? Hell, at least cost is objective. If I were to base my decision on what specific school to attend, I'd may as well go with that first. Numbers are undebatable. Opinions are worthless; or at least greatly inflated. That's why whenever decisions are made in the medical universe, empirical evidence from clinical studies is given several times more weight than expert opinion. Or, well, at least they are suppossed to...but that's another issue entirely.

    The problem with "rating" a professional school insofar as quality of education is concerned is that because there are so many student-specific factors involved, what may be ideal to one student isn't ideal to another. This is everything from the order in which the classes are presented to the manner in which professors present materials to the selection of rotations to class size to a whole assortment of other crap.

    Let's say your dream is to be the director of a small critical access hospital in a rural town. You don't like city life and you like the idea of being in control of all pharmaceutical care in an entire facility (these positions exist - and they are amazing opportunities from a purely clinical standpoint. Want to "use" your degree? IMO, there is no possible position more optimal). That would make something like Idaho State or WVU an ideal choice because there are ample opportunities to experience and learn about the intricacies of each practice setting than at a school in a major city. So for that theoretical student, WVU is a more optimal choice than, say, UCSF. Of course if you want to experience pharmacy practice in a major city, WVU would be crap choice. They actually MAKE you do rural rotations whether you like it or not.


    Now, it would be NICE to have some sort of empirical evidence available that rated results of the individual schools, but nobody has them. If all of them published NAPLEX scores then maybe we could work with something. I think WVU does, I'm not sure. It sucks that few do. Even if they did, this still is questionable because some schools have higher quality students than others. Is the theoretical higher NAPLEX score a result of the actual education or the more apt student? Would these students be any less great pharmacists if they happened to receive their education at another school? This cycle of bringing in ringers to make you look good has been fueling the Ivy Leagues for years. And even further, the success of a pharmacist and the potential of a pharmacist is only part pure knowledge. I don't care if you can draw the chemical structure of metoprolol from memory, if you can't effectively communicate with patients or other professionals your potential in patient care will be hampered. There is NO emperical measure of this avaiable and patient education is (or at least should be) a vital part of any formal PharmD degree.

    So what do you tell someone trying to decide what school to go to? I don't know, nobody knows. Again, this was my entire point from sentence one. I guess go to each individual one, get a feel for how things are done, meet the professors, check out the town, see how much it costs, etc. The bottom line is to trust your own intuition and desires over a stupid list. Especially when the list is formed by a survey devised by a bunch of hacks whose criteria is laughably shallow at best. Seriously - basing it on research grants...are you bloody kidding me?
     
  26. WVUPharm2007

    WVUPharm2007 imagine sisyphus happy
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    I suppose you have a point. Bitter tirades are fun as hell to write, though, I tell you what.
     
  27. WVUPharm2007

    WVUPharm2007 imagine sisyphus happy
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    Now I do admit, this is an interesting idea you've brought forth. However, what makes you think only UCSF or other "top" schools strive to accomplish this? And, further, what makes you think the USN&WR list accurately reflects this? I'm not being abraisive, I'd really like to know....
     
  28. evilolive

    evilolive Member
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    Every school looks for different things - it's in its mission statement, its curricula, and the type of students it admits. The more money a school has to discover and try new things, the more possibilities that are available. Advancement, experiments, and change doesn't come free. People tend to congregate towards ideological meccas, and the top schools tend to be these places. That, in turn, drives students to go there, which in turn, drives other academics to go there who seek the same ideological atmosphere, creating a cycle.
     
  29. senzabee

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    See, the interesting thing is that this whole rank deal comes around in full circle (like what evilolive said). You start with a group of people or an organization who thinks they are qualified to rank the schools in an unbiased way. While applicants should know better, the rankings will most likely sway their decision slightly. More students will start applying to the top-ranked schools due to this, thus giving those schools a more competitive pool to pick from. Their students in general may end up being more competitive than that of other lower-ranked schools. This in turn may increase the success of the students slowly, which can be judged by the passing rate or by other objective means. Donors, drug companies, rich alumni, or whoever has money may then donate to this school because of the success that was built and the potential for further growth. This gives the school and their students the ability to do more things, learn from better professors possibly, and just have better opportunities...which in turn, will come back and contribute to their rank. What I'm trying to say is that in the beginning, the rank given to the school from the unqualified people/organization does not mean a thing. But this potentially inaccurate rank itself gives the school a push in the right direction, creating a program that fits with its ranking.

    If I didn't explain it well: it's kind of like a small no-name clothing brand that, when a celebrity goes out and wears their stuff all the time, gets its big break, finding success and earning the money to fund further success. If the celebrity didn't endorse their clothes in the first place, they wouldn't have gotten the money to keep going and making better stuff. Initially the brand could have been average, but the "rank" that was given to it as a top-notch brand helped it grow and in turn, turned it into a lucrative business that could expand and actually become worthy of its "rank".

    I totally agree in that the ranks will not tell you where you will be most successful because not every program will work for everyone. But as far as judging good programs, they may have some basis because of what I explained above. I don't think it means a low-ranked program is bad, but that a higher-ranked program may have more opportunities. But then that depends on what you call an "opportunity" and what you need to find your own success.
     
  30. sdn1977

    sdn1977 Senior Member
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    Yep - that would be me - I'm a graduate of UCSF School of Pharmacy. It wasn't "crap" then & certainly isn't now.

    The education has served me well & I can probably hold my own with any pharmacist anywhere in the country.

    The rankings however are primarly based on research funding - UCSF gets lots of research funding. It historically has & still does have a huge research facility as well as extensive clinical programs.

    After a lifetime (well - at least most of the length of your lifetimes;) ) of being in this business, I'd have to say the difference in UCSF & some of the other schools (not all - many, many , many are similar or unique in their own way) - is UCSF tries to look for applicants who will become leaders.

    That doesn't mean they are trying to train dops (altho my class has 4 or 5), vice presidents of drug companies (altho my class has 2 that I know of), or FDA comissioners (altho the Dean of the school was one).....but they try to train each individual to become "more" than "just a pharmacist". They try to instill in the individual the sense, the desire, the need & the committment to find that place which needs a leader.

    It can be in an ambulatory/retail setting - many of our graduates do, but they often initiate expanded programs. It can be in an inpt setting - many of our graduates do - but they often become clnical managers. Some end up teaching or precepting...

    That doesn't mean this same thing doesn't go on in many schools across the country - it does & I've had the pleasure of working with graduates from all over the US. UCSF just tends to try to find those folks who have that drive early. Thats not to say sometimes they fail in choosing candidates. Sadly, one of my classmates committed suicide in his first year. It happens. One of my classmates also didn't like pharmacy once he graduated & went to law school - now does pharmaceutical law.

    But...the rankings don't reflect the quality of the students who graduate - it reflects more on how much money is granted for research. A school which is tied to a major research center - which UCSF has been for decades, will more likely be granted more research funding than a school which is not affiliated with a medical center.

    Its important to separate the individuals from the rankings - they truly are different. The "fit" of the school is tremendously important.

    Oddly, I watched my daughter go thru this process when deciding on medical schools - she was accepted to 9 - some highly ranked, some not so highly ranked, but all in the top 50. She had her heart set on one until she went for a site visit. She disliked it intensely & suddenly her life was thrown into turmoil. What to do....she finally decided on her school, then the next week - the 10th school accepted her which was well known & ranked even higher. She kept with her choice after much deliberation because it "fit" her. Now, as a third year - she knows she made the perfect decision.

    Don't base your choice on rankings. Base it on what you want to accomplish (look into yourself - are you a leader or want to be, do you want to go to work everyday & do a good job...nothing wrong in that, do you want do get involved in clincial trials) & on how the environment seems to "fit" you. Not everyone would like to live in SF or LA (where USC is) or in a rural area where WVU is (I think). It has to fit you - academically & personally.

    My advice - toss out Newsweek!
     
  31. sdn1977

    sdn1977 Senior Member
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    Oooops - toss out US News & World Report:oops:


    .....maybe Newsweek too - who knows.
     
  32. davyjone96431

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    you are totally right. this is the exact reason why crappy schools like uc berkeley are ranked high when in actuality, thousands of community colleges are way more prestigious than that trash
     
  33. howsoonisnow

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    ummm......yeah. And how attractive the faculty is! But seriously, take a look at the curriculum, is the system blocked, semester, or quarter. Does the area have decent medical facilities to simplify the process of finding decent clinical rotations. Is there a Macaroni Grill within a 10 mile radius. Whatever appeals to the individual. You will get from a program what you put into it
     
  34. omnione

    omnione SDN Pharmoderator
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    Cost, location, and the weather were the factors I considered when choosing my pharmacy school.:D

    Of course, the important factors are always the quality of the curriculum, rotation offerings, faculty, etc. I just don't think that these rankings can ever accurately rate these factors as these media try to quantify factors that are really qualitative.

    When I interviewed at pharmacy schools, I essentially "interviewed" the schools on the quality of the education I would get if I attended there. Knowing that a school gets a load of research money doesn't tell me how much the instructors care about teaching. Knowing how other faculty rate other schools doesn't tell me if the school is competitive because the student body is cutthroat. Knowing that the average salary for graduates doesn't tell me if that was due to connections or due to a huge array of great rotation options.

    I'm not saying that all pharmacy schools are equal for everybody, I just believe everyone should have their own standards for their own rankings that suits ourselves rather than having some magazine tell us which standards are the most important.
     
  35. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator
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    But they are entertaining to read with a bowl of popcorn.....
     
  36. sdn1977

    sdn1977 Senior Member
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    Too true - but, People Magazine has the REAL issues - I mean - is Tom staying with Katie or has Brad moved on from Jolie......?

    Enquiring minds want to know......

    (Oh gosh - I've spent too much time in the checkout line at the grocery store!)

    I NEED to get home to see Dr Phil - oh .... if only I could be home for awhile....
     
  37. Farmercyst

    Farmercyst From the shadows
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    I love Newsweeks year-end recap of all the cartoons from each issue. Reader's Digest is only good for the humor. (Humor in uniform, All in a days work, etc)
     
  38. usc2pharmd

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    This tirade is so good keep it up future pharmacists!!
     
  39. WVUPharm2007

    WVUPharm2007 imagine sisyphus happy
    Pharmacist 15+ Year Member

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    Haha, I went away to vacation and forgot about this thread.

    I still think the ranking stuff is a load of hooey. There is no evidence to support the assertion that the "top" schools actually provide a higher quality of education.

    All of this crap about the top schools "selecting the best leaders" and "being an intellectual mecca" is all subjective. Can you honestly expect me to accept a subjective answer to a problem I have with a system that stems from said system being completely subjective in nature? And, c'mon, honestly, what school doesn't want to select natural leaders? I'm pretty sure that's what got me into WVU - I owned the interview. That and they told me they look for specific leadership qualities in applicants.

    I am a natural leader, actually. Sadly, I'm also ****ing crazy so I have no followers. HOWEVER, if there were other crazy people around, I would be their leader, dammit.

    Add to this that applicants aren't selected from a natural national pool but, rather, a biased (as in selection bias) resident-quota based pool. If the majority of the top schools take 90% of their applicants from in-state, how is a kid from some remote state (Idaha, Montana, etc) supposed to compete for post-graduate spots with others who have the fast track to more USNAWRBSBFP* schools if anybody ever actually decided to take these rankings seriously?

    Don't get me wrong I fully believe those considered the "top" schools are great and all, but there still is no evidence that these idiotic rankings mean anything outside of research dollars and subjective bias. There ain't a guy on the planet that can actually rank the pharmacy schools with anything approach a method objective in nature. Buhlee Dat!


    * US News and World Report Bull **** Bona Fide Facade Prestige.
     
  40. StringTheorist

    5+ Year Member

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    While it's true that they are based on research and facilities available, they also are significant when it comes to being hired once you graduate. I would assume a graduate from the top school (UCSF, is it?) would be hired before a school that was "ranked" at the bottom. So, they may or may not matter in terms of education, but it will most likely matter when it comes to employment, whether there be a need or not.

    edit:
    hm, i just check out UCSF's site and it says:
    "Top-ranked pharmacy school in the US, as measured independently by academic quality and perception, funding, and publications."

    it does say academic quality...hey, if I got in to the top ranked school, I wouldn't be complaining. lol.
     
  41. WVUPharm2007

    WVUPharm2007 imagine sisyphus happy
    Pharmacist 15+ Year Member

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    Nah, the criteria for most jobs out there are, in order: living, licensed, willing to be the bitch of management, willing to work weird hours.



    Well, you still have to deal with the fact that there is no way to possibly compare "academic quality" among schools, either, unless you compared Naplex scores. Most schools don't publicly release that info, so it's all still a bunch of crazy talk.
     

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