Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pharmacy Schools and Chemistry

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"Better living through chemistry" was a promotional slogan formerly used by the American Chemical Society that was later adopted "tongue-in-cheek" by recreational drug users. This dual slogan use does point out an important fact. The study of chemistry and pharmacy are closely related. In talking recently with Erin (a high school junior), I was surprised to learn that she was interested in becoming a pharmacist. She said "I enjoy working with people and I could make a good salary". I responded, "Science wasn't your favorite subject though, especially chemistry." Erin thought she could just "get through" the chemistry classes as her cousin did in a nursing program.

Generally, students need to enjoy at least some of their courses to be successful and pharmacy is 75% chemistry, whereas nursing only requires a few courses. Sometimes, students look at the jobs that are in demand and just try to train for those jobs. Chasing jobs is a dangerous career strategy because needs often change quickly, leaving students who pursued those jobs for the money with few good options.

I recently visited the Albany College of Pharmacy,
in Albany, NY. The admissions officer there said that they looked carefully at the science GPA when admitting students, especially their chemistry grades. The campus has the advantage of being right on top of the Albany Medical College with cross-registration available. It also has the advantage of being a small college of 1600 students with access to major up to date facilities. Many colleges of pharmacy are part of large universities such as the University of Connecticut or the University of Rhode Island. St. John Fisher is another small private college in upstate (Rochester) New York of about 2700 students with a brand new Wegmans College of Pharmacy. These smaller pre-professional programs give students the individual attention and small labs they often need as undergraduates.

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