How to Obtain Your PharmD Degree in Florida

Pharmacists are highly respected in the healthcare industry for their expertise in medication management. Whether you’ve ever needed a prescription medication or not, you’ve probably interacted with a pharmacist at some point in time. They can tell you whether alcohol or certain foods will interact with your medication or help you find the proper stomach medication for your sick child.

Pharmacists face a wide array of career choices upon graduation, and they have the opportunity to work in many different sectors of the health care industry. If you’re interested in patient-centric environments, you can work in hospitals, community clinics, long-term care homes or family medicine clinics. For someone who would prefer a non-patient-centric career, they may end up working in universities, pharmaceutical companies, government departments and insurance companies, doing quality insurance or in regulatory affairs. The field is varied and has more to offer than many might think.

Becoming a licensed pharmacist will take a good amount of time, but the payoff can be a long, rewarding career for the right person.

What is Required

Pharmacists hold much responsibility, and with that, they will spend, on average, six to eight years studying and preparing for this important role. They must complete at least a two-year undergraduate program and then a four-year postdoctoral pharmacy program.

Once a student has completed their postdoctoral program, they must complete a minimum of 2080 hours of internship work that has been approved by the Florida Board of Pharmacy. All good PharmD programs include clinical rotations so checking to make sure that they qualify will help you to reach the required amount of hours a lot quicker.

The last step to obtaining your license to practice is sitting both the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) as well as the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE). Students will be required to submit official transcripts directly from the university they graduated from and official documentation of the completion of their internship hours.

Students can find the necessary forms through the Florida Board of Pharmacy.

Top Schools

Becoming a pharmacist means that you will spend six to eight years studying, which means that choosing the right school is extremely important. You want to spend that time and money in the right place. The following five schools offer top-rated programs that would make a great choice for anyone considering a career as a pharmacist.

University of Florida, Gainesville, Jacksonville and Orlando

The University of Florida offers its Pharma D program at all three of its campus locations which the university a great choice for students looking for a campus close to home.

The university’s College of Pharmacy is one of six schools that make up the J. Hillis Miller Science Center, which is a renowned research center. The four-year program offers students a well-rounded education that builds a strong foundation in pharmaceutical, biomedical, social and administrative and clinical services. Students study on both an individual and collaborative basis in order to prepare them to work as part of an interprofessional health care team.

Students spend their first three years focusing on classroom learning but gain hands-on clinical experience through rotations that take place during the summer after their first and second year of the program. The final year of the program is entirely experiential. The program offers students the opportunity to study an interesting range of subjects through electives such as forensic genetics, veterinary pharmacy and travel medicine.

University of South Florida, Tampa

Located in the coastal city of Tampa, the University of South Florida is a relatively new public university that was founded in 2011.

The four-year Pharma D program emphasizes peer and faculty interaction by limiting in-person lectures. Students are often expected to ingest course material prior to attending class in order to maximize in-person and hands-on training. During their studies, students have access to innovative technology such as Pioneer R.X. Pharmacy Software to practice their skills in a simulated environment.

Class sizes are restricted in order to allow students to benefit from a mentor-style relationship with their faculty. During the four-year program, experiential learning occurs primarily through USF-affiliated facilities or other local pharmacies or medical institutions. Requests to complete a professional organization internship will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale

Located in Fort Lauderdale, The university is one of the very few to offer degrees in both osteopathic and allopathic medical degrees, and this innovative approach carries over to their four-year PharmD program.

NSU Florida is the only program in the U.S to operate a full-service community pharmacy. The program also boasts one of the most extensive and most requested travel study programs of any pharmacy college. Travel programs are led by faculty and take place during the summertime.

The first three years of the program are focused on core pharmacological science courses interspersed with clinical experience throughout the summertime. In their final year of the program, students must complete seven or eight six-week clinical rotations in the following fields, ambulatory care, internal medicine, community pharmacy and advanced hospital care. In order to participate in these advanced rotations, students must demonstrate a level of proficiency in classwork and previous clinical experience.

Palm Beach Atlantic University

Located in the city of West Palm Beach, the seat of Palm Beach County, the university is a Christian institution that welcomes students of all religious backgrounds.   

Prospective students must apply through the Pharmacy College Application Service and must pass the Pharmacy college admissions test. Seventy-five students are accepted into the program each academic year, making the program the smallest in the state. Class sizes are kept small to ensure individual attention is given to each student.

As with other Pharma D programs, the first three years of study focus mainly on coursework, while the fourth and final year concentrates on clinical rotation. All courses in the program are infused with Christian-based values giving students a strong sense of ethics to take into their practice. For students that are interested in concurrent studies, opportunities exist to take on extra course work during the first year to obtain a Bachelor of Science Degree in Medicinal Chemistry, or once the first year is complete, students can choose to add an MBA to their Pharma D degree.

Florida A&M University

Located in Tallahassee, the capital of Florida and seat of Leon County, the university offers students a full six year Pharma D program that can be entered as an undergraduate or transferred into at the beginning of the professional curriculum component in the third year.

The college boasts the only Pharma program in the U.S with a fully accredited Institute of Public Health. The college places special emphasis on the health equity of underserved and vulnerable populations. Students can choose to attend lectures at either the Tallahassee or Crestville campus or transmitted from Tallahassee in real-time.

The first three years of the graduate program focus on classroom work, and in the fourth and final year, students participate in a number of clinical placements throughout the community. Interested students have the opportunity to complete an intensive post-graduate fellowship through the school’s partnership with St. Vincent’s Healthcare.

Online Learning Options

The path to becoming a pharmacist is not a short one, so finding ways to make the journey more affordable will be top of mind for some. For others, traveling too far from home is not possible or not preferred. If this is something that you are thinking about, you may want to consider the online Pharma D program offered by St. John Fisher College.

This four-year program offered through the Wegmans School of Pharmacy consists of 151 credits and takes place primarily online. 30% of the course consists of experiential learning, translating into 2000 hours of clinical rotation before graduation.

Students should note that the program has one start date per year in September, and the application deadline is June first of the same year.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Those interested in staying to work in Florida will be happy to know that the state is a great place to start a career in pharmacy. This is because the number of employed pharmacists in Florida is one of the three highest in the nation, and demand is expected to increase, albeit slightly.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the state has the third-highest employment of pharmacists in the U.S. Specifically, the highest number of employed pharmacists is in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

The average earnings for a pharmacist are $128,570 per annum. Pharmacists make just shy of that at $127,240 per annum or $61.17 per hour in Florida.

Although earnings and employment in the state are pretty good, new graduates should keep in mind that the field is experiencing a bit of a downturn in growth. The field is only expected to grow about two percent from 2018 – to 2028, about 990 new job openings. Although this is not excellent news, those interested in the field should not be entirely deterred; they just need to be prepared for some healthy competition.