By Emily Helldorfer
In collaboration with the Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy, Sacred Heart University will offer a new bachelors and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program which can be completed in six years.
For this 3+3 program, after three years, Sacred Heart students majoring in biology or chemistry will finish their undergraduate credits during their first year at the University of Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy. They will then go on to earn their Pharm.D. in the following three years.
“For most pre-pharmacy students, they do four years for an undergraduate degree and then they do either three or four years for their Pharm D., depending on the program,” said Dr. Nicole M. Roy, associate professor of Biology and director of the Pre-health Advisement Program at Sacred Heart.
“Sacred Heart is always looking for programs to help students streamline and facilitate from their undergraduate to their professional programs,” she said. “They’re always looking for ways to accelerate students, save time and money.”
Students who earn their Pharm.D. degree can work in research, retail, clinical settings, consulting, or work for pharmaceutical companies, as well as several other specialized areas. According to several sources, pharmacists make an average salary of $122,000.
“I think a 3+3 program is a great way to expand pharmacy,” said Sacred Heart alumnus Abbie Britton, a recent Pharm.D. graduate from the University of Kentucky. “Students will have to know what they are getting into though because doing pharmacy school in four years was difficult, so packing it into three years, you have to be extra motivated.”
In order to be accepted into this new 3+3 program, students must attain an average or higher score on the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) by the Fall semester of their third year. They must also complete all of the pre-pharmacy required courses by their third year with grades of C or above.
In addition, they must have pharmacy-related experience, which can be shadowing or work as a pharmacy technician. Students will then be considered for admission to the University of Saint Joseph School of Pharmacy’s Pharm.D. program.
“I think a benefit of this new 3+3 program is that you are done in a shorter amount of time, but a downfall is that you constantly have to be working towards your degree with no time off,” said Britton.
This 3+3 program is based on calendar years, meaning that students must take classes over the summer.
“In Connecticut, we have a lot of pharmaceutical companies, so there are certainly lots of options. Pharmacy is a growing field simply because we’re living longer,” said Roy.
“There’s more medical advances, better diagnostic tools and we have better medicines. There’s always going to be people who need medication, so there’s always going to be a need for pharmacists.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacists is expected to grow 14 percent by the year 2024. However, nearly all of the growth will come from hospitals and clinics, as the number of pharmacy positions in retail will remain steady.
The number of pharmacy jobs in hospitals, outpatient clinics, physicians’ offices and home healthcare is projected to increase by 12 percent.
“I think that students looking into pharmacy have to realize that the job market is harder for pharmacists now than it was 10 years ago. It’s also important to recognize that there are so many different areas of pharmacy,” said Britton.
“I want to work in the emergency room. I have friends who are interested in cardiology, oncology, critical care and general medicine. A pharmacist isn’t just a person who is behind the counter at a community pharmacy. There are a ton of unique and growing fields for a pharmacist,” she said.