A common question that comes up:

“Does it Matter What Pharmacy School You Go To?”

Choosing a pharmacy school can be a difficult choice for many students. This choice for myself was not too difficult. I knew I wanted to stay close to home where all my family and friends lived. The other variable I was considering was the location I would be practicing as a pharmacist. This was important for networking in the area to get a job after graduation. Thus, I chose to apply to both of the pharmacy schools in the state of Washington.

To answer the question, yes, it does matter what pharmacy school you go to.  Here are the top 4 reasons why it matters what pharmacy school you go to:

1. Cost of Pharmacy School

The cost of pharmacy school is a huge factor in considering which program to attend. It is imperative you map out the costs of school and determine the debt you will accrue. For those that are fortunate enough where their parents/family can cover all costs, this will not matter. For the rest of us it is important to understand having huge debt can delay progressing to the next chapter of each our lives. Think about the future. It can affect how soon you will get married, when you will have children, when you will purchase your first home, and when you can actually retire. Here is a post about my pharmacy school loans.

  • Private versus Public: Obviously public schools are much more affordable compared to private schools. My personal opinion is to avoid private school at all costs unless they are willing to provide enough scholarships to off set the costs of attending. The quality of the school will not be affected. In fact, the top 10 pharmacy schools are mostly public schools.
  • Out of State Tuition: Honestly, I would only choose an out of state school if I planned to live there after graduating. The only other big factor is if the school offers some unique program that is catered to your career goals. Again, if any school is willing to cover your costs, by all means go for it. Besides that there should be no reason to go out of state. It is financially irresponsible to do so if you do not meet the criteria above.

2. Location of the Pharmacy School

Location of the pharmacy program is also another important factor to consider. Think about the future and where you plan to settle down and practice as a pharmacist. Where you attend school can greatly affect those outcomes.

  • Networking: Over the next 3-4 years you will have the opportunity to network as much as possible during pharmacy school. Why is this so important? Most jobs obtained are through recommendations and network connections. Even if there is a better candidate that interviews, often times the less qualified candidate will be hired because of a network connection. Do not underestimate the power of networking! The location of the pharmacy school will matter because this will be where you begin to build your pharmacy network.
  • Cost of Living: Going back to the cost of pharmacy school. The cost of living can play a huge factor in how much debt you will accrue. This is also important to consider.
  • Family and Friends: When asked what is the most important thing in your life? Most will say their family and friends. Consider this when deciding where to go for pharmacy school.
  • Internships: Does the pharmacy school surrounding area have many internship opportunities for students? Big cities will have more opportunities compared to small rural cities/towns. Again, this is for networking!

3. Top 10 Pharmacy Schools

The top 10 pharmacy schools U.S. News Report rankings should not be the deciding factor for which schools to consider. It is a reasonable tool for your checklist in where you want to attend. Keep in mind the methodology of how these rankings are achieved.

The U.S. News Report releases pharmacy school rankings every few years. The rankings methodology are based entirely on peer assessment surveys. The surveys were sent to other pharmacy programs around the nation which involved the deans, faculty members, and other administrators.

If we were to go back to the early 2000s I would say pharmacy school rankings were meaningless for you to find a job. In today’s market it is something to consider going forward as the market has become increasingly competitive. This does not mean you will not find work if you do not attend a top 10 pharmacy school. I believe more established programs give students more opportunities to succeed with a stronger network.

4. The Pharmacy Program Curriculum and Programs

The different programs and certificates offered by each pharmacy program should also be considered. Each school will have their own unique specialties. They might be known for their research, outpatient practice, speciality pharmacy, or hospital inpatient pharmacy practice. These are some aspects to consider depending on your career goals.

  • Pharmacy School Curriculum: does this match your future ambitions? Will this program help you reach your goals?
  • Pharmacy School dual programs and certificate programs: does this match your future ambitions? Will this program help you reach your goals?

I hope the recommendations above will help guide, motivate, and inspire you to achieve your goals. Follow my blog for more tips and advice on finances and being a pharmacist. What are your experiences? Please comment below and share your thoughts.