A pharmacist is a medical professional who uses their medication expertise to promote health and well-being. The role of a pharmacist is to use their medical knowledge to prepare and dispense medications, prevent harmful drug interactions and advise patients on medication use and dosage. Pharmacists are educated in the chemical make-up and use of medications. A pharmacist may work in a pharmacy (such as in a drug or grocery store), hospital or they may conduct clinical research. To practice pharmacy, one must earn a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree and pass a state license exam.
Students can choose different paths to pharmacy school, but must be mindful of the core requirements for competitive applications, preparing for the PCAT exam, gaining appropriate experiences in the field and completing their respective majors. While it is possible for a pre-pharmacy student to do virtually any academic major, it is imperative for all pre-pharmacy students to work closely with both academic and health professions advisors to ensure completion of all requirements for professional schools and for their undergraduate degree. Most often, a student on a pre-pharmacy track will choose a science major such as Biology, Biochemistry/Chemistry or Neuroscience since the curricula include most required and recommended courses. Students will typically apply to pharmacy school between their junior and senior years, allowing for a direct transition following graduation, but some wait until after they graduate to apply in order to further their education and gain more relevant experience.
The academic and extracurricular experience at Westminster College, ranging from coursework to on- and off-campus service and experiential activities to international study and/or travel, contribute strongly to the appeal of the well-trained and well-rounded individuals who graduate from our school.
Students may also choose to participate in one of our articulation agreements with Duquesne University (Duquesne: 2+4 program or Duquesne: 3+4 program) where Westminster students can matriculate directly to Duquesne having met the appropriate requirements.
Core Requirements for Pharmacy School (and for PCAT Exam Preparation) generally are:
The following courses are also strongly recommended:
Additional course requirements may vary from one professional program to another, so it is the responsibility of the student to be aware of specifics regarding their schools of interest. Good planning and working closely with academic and health professions advisors are essential to maximize chances of success in the highly competitive pharmacy school application environment.
A student on the pre-pharmacy track will often choose to major in biology, biochemistry/chemistry or neuroscience. A sample schedule for a chemistry major preparing to take the PCAT exam between their junior and senior year and matriculating to pharmacy school following graduation is below.
With the exception of the core requirements and courses strongly recommended ahead of the PCAT exam, there is curricular flexibility within any chosen major and among the elective courses that are part of the liberal arts curriculum at Westminster College. Students planning to study abroad for a semester must also plan accordingly to meet all requirements and timelines. It is also advisable for students to budget time to prepare for the PCAT exam that will test knowledge in Biology, Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry as well as writing, critical reading, and quantitative reasoning.