Online Pharm.D Programs – All you need to know

Looking to enter the pharmaceutical industry by becoming a doctor of pharmacy? A degree in pharmaceutical sciences is a worthy endeavor to pursue, and becoming a licensed pharmacist requires dedication. The pharmacy pathway has many options for students, both online and in-person.

Selecting the right program can be daunting, but in this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the career choices involved with a pharmacy program. Public health is an important field of practice, and every program has its advantages.

Is a Pharm.D the same as a pharmacist?

A PharmD program prepares students for their Doctor of Pharmacy degrees, allowing them to pursue career options as a pharmacist. Becoming a licensed pharmacist allows recently graduated students to work in community pharmacies, as well as branch out to other organizations thanks to their advanced pharmacy practice experiences in their academic careers.

A PharmD degree is what allows students to become licensed pharmacists, though not all graduates follow that path. Without successful completion of a school of pharmacy program, students cannot become a practicing pharmacist in community pharmacies.

Degrees can be earned online for convenience so that students can work around their busy schedules while still obtaining the pharmacy degree and training they need to be successful.

Can Pharm.D Call Themselves Doctors?

Anyone with a PharmD degree is a doctor of pharmacy and, technically speaking, can be referred to as a doctor. However, in a professional setting, an individual with a degree from a school of pharmacy should identify themselves as such so as not to confuse peers and patients about their education.

The Difference Between PharmD and PhD

Before looking into which schools are best for online doctor of pharmacy law programs, it’s important to note the different career paths associated with the field. A PharmD and a Ph.D may seem similar, or nearly identical to those who aren’t familiar with the terms. While their responsibilities and knowledge may overlap, they are two separate pharmacy degree programs.

Knowing the difference will help you select the right program for you and further your decision to become a licensed pharmacist.

PharmD Program Overview

A PharmD is considered to be a professional doctorate program meant to prepare students for career options in the pharmaceutical industry. Most pharmacy programs require 60-90 credit hours in health sciences for admittance, meaning that most students will already have a bachelor’s degree when they apply. However, students are able to gain admittance with an associate’s degree on occasion.

Additionally, most pharmacy schools require a strong score on the Pharmacy College Admission Tests (PCAT) for consideration. Once accepted, the programs take about four years to complete and require one year of serving residency or clinical rotations. For some, this track may appear daunting due to the level of commitment, but it’s quite rewarding. An online curriculum may reduce the amount of stress you experience throughout the semester.

Time management skills are essential to succeeding in a PharmD program, as well as a strong interest in public health and patient care. Not only will you be responsible for dispensing prescription medications, but you will be the face patients see and ask important questions to. It’s important to practice your people skills as you will be on the front lines dealing with patients.

Ph.D. Program Overview

A Ph.D. is considered to be a research doctorate program since the career paths branch off into academics and research. Many programs require a master’s degree before gaining admittance, along with other requirements.

The programs also require research to be conducted, written, and published before completing the program and receiving your degree, which can take five years or more to complete. For those uninterested in the research aspect, or those who are put off by the amount of academic exposure, this may not be the right career path.

Thorough study practices are required to be successful in this field, and this academic path is rigorous with coursework. If collaborating with peers is something you’d rather avoid in an academic setting, consider the PharmD track instead.

What Are Online Pharmacy Schools?

An online school of pharmacy is just what it sounds like: an online degree program where students admitted can earn their degrees. There are many programs available that are from accredited college campuses, offering essential pharmacy practice experiences for students. Becoming a doctor of pharmacy has never been more accessible thanks to the flexibility of the online learning environment.

Finding an Accredited College for Pharmacy Education

Starting to pursue your career as a pharmacist starts with a comprehensive education about the human body, drug interactions, medicinal chemistry, and patient care. These essential clinical skills can be learned in institutional settings online.

Degree-seeking students should be made aware that certain universities and programs are not approved by an accreditation council, meaning that certain programs will not grant them recognizable degrees in some areas. Finding an accredited program will serve prospective students best in a professional setting.

Institutions like Lake Erie College and John Fisher College are both an ACPE accredited program through the 2023-2024 academic year, with both offering programs for online students to pursue. When selecting a hybrid program, ensuring that it is accredited by an accreditation council for pharmacy guarantees your education and official transcripts will be recognized nationwide.

Online Pharmacy Schools vs. Traditional Pharmacy Schools

Earning a degree online is no different than earning it in the traditional classroom setting. Online students have the flexibility to take online classes at their own pace. An online degree program offers higher education with experiential learning practice settings. Lake Erie College is one of many that offers a hybrid program designed to train students to apply themselves as an online doctor of pharmacy.

Traditionally, students are limited by finances, transportation, work schedule conflicts, and other life occurrences. There is minimal flexibility with the academic schedule, which can easily impact the student’s personal statement and public health education. The pursuit of a PharmD degree doesn’t need to be as stressful as it once was in terms of scheduling licensure exams. Financial aid can alleviate some of the burden, but the physical and mental strain remains.

Which Online Course Is Best For Pharmacy Education?

Ideally, a council for pharmacy education would prioritize the importance of the hybrid learning track because of convenience. All advanced pharmacy practice experiences can be done in labs to help develop soft skills in the school of pharmacy, while core classes could be held online to alleviate foot traffic in the classroom. However, the best course depends on the student.

Only the student knows which school of pharmacy track is best for them, and learning the necessary skills for pharmacy online can be daunting. Still, such a learning path has its perks. Seeking financial aid can ease the monetary burden, allowing students to focus on their chosen path.

Creighton University – Streamlined Curriculum

Creighton University received Higher Learning Commission (HLC) status, recently confirmed by the accreditation council for pharmacy education in 2017. Over the last 10 years, more than 75% of students graduated on time, and of those students, most passed their licensure exams. Creighton’s commitment to public health and pharmacy have encouraged students to put their best foot forward and stay on track during their four years at the university.

For students who don’t do well under pressure, this may be a difficult path to handle.

John Fisher College – Hybrid Learning

The accreditation council for pharmacy has accredited John Fisher College through 2024, approving the online program as well. Their online program has approximately 40-60 hours per week of rigorous coursework. All rotations will also require about 40 hours per week, depending on the schedule’s needs. Students should prepare for the program by honing their time management skills.

Fisher PharmD’s online curriculum is a hybrid model featuring live sessions covering topics like osteopathic medicine and drug action. Outside of the classwork, students are required to participate in six immersion experiences in-person. For those looking for a more remote learning experience, this may be a deal breaker.

Lake Erie College – Most Flexible

Having received accreditation from the accreditation council for pharmacy education, the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine offers several different educational pathways for students to pursue. Students can complete a three-year program where they attend classes year-round, quickly obtaining their degrees but under a tight schedule, or they can complete a traditional four-year campus experience. LECOM also provides an online opportunity for students to pursue their education.

All education pathways include the same selection of courses and curriculum material coverage. The only difference is the pacing. With LECOM’s programs, all students are exposed to pharmaceutical practices early on, allowing them to develop and hone their skills throughout their entire time enrolled at the university.

How To Become An Online Doctor Of Pharmacy

The medical field requires a higher education for admittance to graduate school. This means not only a comprehensive understanding of basic sciences but a drive to learn the skills required for both patient care and pharmaceutical sciences. Not all pharmacy programs will require a bachelor’s of arts degree before applying, but some doctorate programs will.

The curriculum depends on the school you select, as no two programs are the same and each institution varies. An online program offers the flexibility that a traditional route may not, allowing you to better adapt your learning to your schedule and work at your own pace. Generally, prerequisite courses must be completed at another accredited university in order to apply for the school of pharmacy degree.

All students must participate in small groups to further work on their practice, which may be a deal breaker for some students who prefer more of an independent study track.

Pharmacy College Admission Test and Admissions

For most universities, there are several important tests that must be taken before you can apply. You’ll need a passing score to be considered for enrollment on three major tests for most programs, though the most prominent test is the PCAT. To have scores that set you apart, you’ll want to aim above the national average and have plenty of other qualifications prepared on your application.

Most universities will require a minimum GPA of 2.7 or higher to consider allowing a student entrance to the curriculum. Some colleges, like Lake Erie College, do not require the Pharmacy College Admission Test when considering student applications.

Is A Pharm.D Worth It?

Worried about the practicality of entering the pharmaceutical world? A PharmD degree is a secure field to enter into. Aside from the personal development and edification from the experience, there are plenty of real-world applications that will benefit you long after you graduate.

Labor Statistics

Pursuing a career as a pharmacist outside of pharmacy school comes with many perks. For those who want to offer their expertise to patients who come to pick up prescribed medication, it’s the perfect job. There is plenty of flexibility in location, whether you choose to work in a hospital, drugstore, grocery store, or pharmacy.

When it comes to labor statistics, salary is important to consider. The average salary for pharmacists, as last recorded in 2021, is over $120,000 with the higher end of the spectrum paying for ambulatory healthcare services and the lower end working exclusively in pharmacies and drug stores.

If you’re not interested in working for a chain of pharmacies, you can always pursue independent ownership of a pharmacy or drugstore. There are rules you’ll have to abide by set by government agencies, but you may find it a better career choice for your personal interests than the traditional path.

Conclusion

Getting started on your PharmD degree is a big step and not one that can be taken without proper planning and forethought. Keeping your grades up in undergraduate school and maintaining a strong focus on basic sciences and key concepts will set you up for success.