How to Become a Pharmacist in Indiana – The PharmD Program

Statista estimates that 4.76 billion prescriptions will be filled in the US in 2022. Due to the growth of the pharmaceutical industry in the country and the increasing need for medication, especially among the aging population, the annual figure is projected to shoot to nearly 5 billion in 2025. This great news means more jobs for the hundreds of thousands of pharmacists at the core of medicine dispensation, administration, and distribution at various hospitals, pharmacies and drug stores nationwide.

One of the most fulfilling things about being a pharmacist is that you get to help patients get better by giving them proper prescription drugs. As in other states, you can qualify for this job and its many perks in Indiana by graduating with a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from an accredited institution of higher education. 

Why PharmD, and Not Just Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy (PharmB)?

A PharmB or any other undergraduate degree in pharmacy or pharmaceuticals is only an entry-level qualification to work in the industry. After graduating, you may find work in retail and hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical research laboratories, and drug manufacturing facilities. But the program doesn’t qualify you for a license to practice as a pharmacist, including in Indiana (you at least need a PharmD degree).

PharmD is a clinically-oriented post-graduate program that equips prospective pharmacists with additional skills to play a more direct role in patient care. The profession has come of age, and doctors and patients today increasingly rely on pharmacists for drug usage and safety advice. During your PharmD studies, you’ll take up additional pharmacology courses to boost your qualifications for work that involves treating diseases with medication. Your final moments in the pharmacy school will include experiential learning in different pharmacy settings that incorporate direct interactions with patients.

How to Join a PharmD Program in Indiana

Before applying to a PharmD program in Indiana, check that you meet the relevant criteria for admittance. Specific prerequisites may vary by institution, but general entry requirements include:

  • Completing high school with an excellent cumulative GPA, such as 2.5 or 3.0
  • An under-graduate pre-pharmacy degree from an accredited institution
  • No criminal record

While a PharmB program won’t get you a licensed pharmacist job, it can be a helpful milestone on your dream career path. The undergraduate program covers much of the pre-pharmacy coursework you need to study PharmD. But many universities in Indiana offer a more direct option to the doctorate program for college-bound high school graduates. With their dual-degree programs, you can enroll in PharmD without pre-pharmacy qualifications (you’ll study these prerequisites first thing after admission). This option may sometimes involve studying at two different universities before graduating with a doctor’s degree in pharmacy.  

Where to Study PharmD in Indiana

You can join any PharmD school in Indiana accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). There are various online and offline study options worth exploring for students living in the state. These include:

Purdue University

The Purdue University College of Pharmacy has one of the most successful PharmD programs in the US. For about $11,148.00 per semester (8 credit hours) in on-campus fees, you’ll receive theoretical and experiential training with multiple rotations throughout your studies, including 10 in your fourth year. You can join the prestigious doctorate program fresh from high school by taking up a two-year pre-pharmacy course at the university. Alternatively, the institution accepts equivalent pre-pharmacy qualifications attained at an accredited college.

It admits about 150 students into the four-year PharmD program per year. Factors that can boost your chances of acceptance into the program include:

  • At least a C- in all pre-pharmacy prerequisites, including biology, math, chemistry, and calculus
  • Successful interview with the university’s admission committee
  • Relevant work experience
  • Scoring a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or above in your two-year pre-pharmacy coursework at Purdue University isn’t mandatory, but it can increase your probability of admission into the post-graduate program

Manchester University

Manchester University offers its ACPE-accredited PharmD program at its Fort Wayne, Indiana campus. This location is near local community pharmacies and hospitals where future pharmacists at the college gain practical clinical experience during their experiential rotations. Those with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 and who have completed the required pre-pharmacy courses at an accredited institution can apply to the four-year post-graduate program. For your prerequisite education to count there, you should complete 60 credit hours or more with a grade C- or better, overall. 

First-, second-, and third-year PharmD students at the college pay about $41,666 in pharmacy fees per year, while their final-year counterparts pay approximately $46,311. The annual cost increases to about $57,922 after adding expenses like the commute to campus and experiential sites, technology and accommodation/meals.    

If you’re approaching PharmD with a business mind and look to later start or manage a pharmacy practice, consider pursuing a PharmD and Master of Business Administration (MBA) dual degree at Manchester University. The college teamed up with Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne to offer this program without increasing the study time. You’d take the online MBA course online to graduate in four years like most other PharmD students.

St. John Fisher College (Online Program)

St. John Fisher College is based in Pittsford, New York, but its PharmD online program is available to everyone in the US. To enroll in the clinically-focused coursework that takes four years to complete, you need 62 semester hours of standard pre-pharmacy education attained at an accredited college. Acceptance into the program doesn’t usually require a Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), but a cumulative and science GPA of 2.75 can boost your chances. Check out specific prerequisites to join the program here, including for international applicants.

Not all aspects of the PharmD coursework take place online. Experiential learning, which is about 30% of the curriculum and involves 2000 hours of 11 clinical rotations, provides practical experiences in various physical environments. You don’t have to travel to New York for this key part of your studies if you don’t live there. St. John Fisher College has arrangements in place to deliver pharmacy practice experiences in real-life clinical settings within your community. The four-year online doctorate program costs approximately $181,337. 

Licensing Requirements After Your Post-Graduate Degree

State licensing is the only obstacle to becoming a pharmacist after attaining your PharmD degree. Once you’ve obtained the license from the Indiana Board of Pharmacy, you’re ready to legally practice in the state. Here are important requirements to apply for a pharmacist license:

  • Copy of transcript(s) proving your ACPE-accredited education credentials
  • Pass the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX)
  • Pass the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE)
  • Pass a criminal background check
  • Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Committee (FPGEC) certificate (if you studied PharmD abroad)
  • Complete 30 credits of continuing education (CE) every two years to renew your pharmacist license

Pharmacist Jobs and Salaries in Indiana

Indiana has about 5,830 licensed pharmacists with an average income of $57.22 per hour and $119,020 annually. There are plenty of opportunities for these professionals to provide direct patient care or help with prescription drug administration in various healthcare environments. In this state, you can find work in pharmacy settings like:

Community Healthcare Centers (CHCs)

Indiana, which has a population of about 6,805,985, boasts more than 35 CHSs providing quality healthcare throughout the state. Your work at any of these centers can involve more than just dispensing medicine. It may require liaising with and advising doctors, nurses, and other caregivers and counseling patients. You have important qualifications for disease management, so expect to play roles in life-saving settings like ambulatory or emergency care as your career grows.   

The Pharmaceutical Industry

Growth of Indiana’s life sciences shows no signs of slowing down, with pharmaceutical companies continually building new drug-making and research facilities in various cities across the state. The state’s capital, Indianapolis, is home to several pharmaceutical and biotech giants like Eli Lilly and Company, Roche and Johnson & Johnson, which recently hopped into the public limelight with its Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Well-paying pharmacists’ roles in the industry include:

  • Drug research
  • Development of pharmaceutical formulations for new drugs
  • Sales and marketing
  • Quality assurance
  • Regulatory compliance

Retail Chain Community Pharmacy

Community pharmacy practice is a major component of experiential rotations at PharmD school, so you should easily qualify for this role once you get your pharmacist license. As a retail pharmacist, your brief would include dispensing drugs and advising patients on the efficacy and safety of the medication. The ability to quickly evaluate indicators like symptoms and lab exam results is highly desirable when serving in this role. When hired to provide professional guidance on patient care routinely, it boosts your credentials.    

Hospitals

Dispensing drugs is a major part of your role as a hospital pharmacist, whether at a government or private healthcare facility in Indiana. To do your job effectively, you’ll have to work closely with the entire hospital team to deliver quality care. This often entails providing and receiving input from your professional colleagues, including doctors, nurses, and surgeons. Reading or interpreting patients’ medical information like drug charts will enable you to communicate and collaborate better with fellow caregivers.

Potential sources of hospital pharmacist jobs in Indiana include:

  • Indiana University Health Medical Center (Indianapolis)
  • Adams Memorial Hospital (Decatur)
  • Ascension St. Vincent Carmel (Carmel)