Getting Your PharmD Degree in Puerto Rico
Pharmacists are an integral part of the healthcare industry. While most of us think of them as the people behind the counter at a drugstore, their role is far more complex. Pharmacists are highly respected among medical professionals, and rightly so, as becoming a pharmacist requires extensive education and a rigorous licensing process.
A PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) is required to become a licensed pharmacist. A Doctor of Pharmacy undertakes several years of training at pharmacy school to meet the stringent requirements of their degree and pass their licensure examinations.
Those who hold a PharmD degree are more extensively trained than pharmacy technicians and registered pharmacists.
A PharmD is the highest degree one can earn as a pharmacist. Keep in mind that having a Ph.D. in Pharmacy is different from having a PharmD degree. If you’re interested in research and a more academic-focused career, that’s when a Ph.D. in Pharmacy is necessary.
This profession comes with its challenges like any other career. Pharmacists have to communicate efficiently and be team players. Critical thinking skills and expertise come into play for pharmacists as they make essential decisions without prescriptive authority. Still, being a pharmacist can be a gratifying career for those that are keen to play a close role in patient health.
Dispensing prescriptions is just one role that pharmacists play. However, this is just scratching the surface of what pharmacists are trained to do. They also work in different industries that vary by setting, such as hospital pharmacies, ambulatory care and community.
A pharmacist can team up with a physician to create drug formulas for patients in a hospital setting. They can act as consultants to select drugs and calculate doses for patients that can’t take oral medication. They also monitor medication use for adverse outcomes and drug interactions, advising patients on proper drug use and working closely with nurses to guarantee the safe administration of drugs.
Ambulatory care is a growing area for pharmacists to seek job opportunities. In this setting, pharmacists can monitor and manage medication for patients for a longer duration. Dispensing medication at the physician’s office is now available thanks to technology. Pharmacists can aid the physician in the process of drug selection, counsel patients and prepare the packaged medication.
Community pharmacists help ensure that patients receive appropriate treatment. As health care costs rise, individuals gravitate towards caring for themselves if possible. Pharmacists are skilled at looking at patient symptoms and identifying the degree of healthcare they need. If patients can care for themselves, the pharmacist will provide over-the-counter suggestions.
Salary of a PharmD Holder in Puerto Rico
The average salary in Puerto Rico is approximately 20k a year. The salary of a pharmacist in Puerto Rico ranges from 38k for junior-level pharmacists to 128k for top-level pharmacists, with the average sitting at 92k a year. It’s fair to say that pharmacists in Puerto Rico receive adequate compensation, which is expected given that pharmacy school is demanding and intense.
Requirements for a PharmD degree in Puerto Rico
As an aspiring Doctor of Pharmacy in Puerto Rico, it is compulsory that you complete the following requirements to receive your license:
- Graduate with a Bachelor’s or Doctorate in pharmacy (approximately 5-6 years)
- Preceptor supervised practice
- Licensure exams, including the North American Licensure Examination (NAPLEX)
- Membership in Colegio de Farmacéuticos de Puerto Rico (CFPR)
- Abide by the code of ethics and professional conduct
- Register and recertify with the Health Department as part of continued education
The Puerto Rico Board of Pharmacy oversees the licensure process.
Onsite PharmD Schools
The PharmD Program at UPR is a four-year program accredited by The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
This program requires the completion of 144 credits and 1,930 hours of practical experience. The program integrates a liberal, systematic and humanistic model with the purpose of human development of general and professional abilities. The on-time graduation rate for the class year of 2021 was 94 percent. The NAPLEX first-time pass rate for the Class of 2019 was 97.44 percent.
- Complete 75-80 semester credits in pre-pharmacy courses from an accredited college or university
- Present academic and personal records showing adequate preparation and the capability to handle a professional college degree program
- A cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) minimum of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale
- Complete the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT). This test is required for most schools and recommended for others
- Submit three recommendation forms. Two must be from former professors
- Complete the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) application
- Complete the Medical Sciences Campus Application
- Complete the Technical Standards document
- Pay a $30 admission fee
Graduation requirements are as follows:
- All coursework must be approved with a passing grade of C or higher. This equates to a 2.0 GPA
- Submission of a portfolio showcasing your student development of the ten general and professional abilities of the program
- Demonstrate ethical and professional conduct
- Complete at least the last two years at the School of Pharmacy of the UPR
- Complete the academic program within six years of admission
- Comply with the UPR – Medical Sciences Campus regulations
The COP at NSU is also a four-year program. Its mission is to develop inclusive leaders in the science and pharmacy industry to deliver optimal patient care. The COP at NSU is accredited by the ACPE.
You will need to complete a total of 159 curriculum credit hours to be eligible for graduation. The class year of 2019 had an on-time graduation rate of 84.50 percent. The NAPLEX first-time pass rate for the Class of 2019 was 85.59 percent.
The COP selects students based on past academic performance, PCAT scores (which are recommended but not required), admissions interviews, application and reference letters.
- Complete 66 semester credits in pre-pharmacy courses from an accredited college
- Complete the PharmCAS application. The PharmCAS service is used to apply to PharmD programs offered by schools of pharmacy
- A cumulative grade point average (GPA) minimum of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale
- Complete the PCAT. This test is required for most schools and recommended for others
- Three letters of reference from academic and professional sources
- Admission fee of $50
Tuition for the academic year of 2022-2023 is $39,991. Keep in mind that the tuition provided for the upcoming school year does not include additional fees and expenses that you may incur. Neither does it reflect possible annual tuition increases.
Online PharmD Option
The Fisher PharmD program is a four-year program conducted online and is ACPE accredited. The NAPLEX first-time pass rate for the Class of 2020 was 87.84 percent. During this four-year program, you will complete 151 credits and eleven clinical rotations. These will be completed in your community at pharmacies local to you.
Despite being an online program, Wegmans School of Pharmacy provides a high standard experience that helps you graduate with competitive academic preparation. It has small class sizes to guarantee personalized attention. Attending Wegmans is a great option for those students who don’t have access to a School of Pharmacy close to them.
The requirements to enroll are similar to other PharmD programs. They consist of:
- Completion of the PharmCAS application
- Submit transcripts from previous institutions
- Submit a minimum of two recommendation letters
- An interview with Fisher PharmD faculty
- Submitting PCAT scores is optional. If you believe it supports your application process with evidence of academic preparedness, then it is encouraged to complete it
- Completed 62 semester hours of pre-pharmacy coursework at an ACPE-accredited college or university
- Minimum GPA of 2.75
- A background check is required
- Non-native students are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and submit their scores
The Fisher PharmD program costs around $181,337. This number excludes additional fees and expenses that you may need to factor in, such as books, extra fees, and annual tuition increases.
After graduating from your pharmacy program, you are able to start a residency program. The residency exposes you to a variety of pharmacy settings where you can showcase your knowledge and skills. During your residency, you’ll gain experience in community pharmacy, academia and research. Residency programs are optional, but you may find that some employers prefer to hire pharmacists with residency training. COP at NSU and the School of Pharmacy at UPR both offer residency programs.
Pharmacists in Puerto Rico are required to renew their licenses every three years. Renewing your pharmacist license keeps you updated on best practices. There are a total of 35 contact hours of continued education to be completed. Within those 35 hours, you will need to devote three hours each to specific topics, including ethics in pharmacy, pharmacy law and disease control.