Katheryn Kerr: When I tell others that a pharmacy program takes six years to complete instead of four, they will gape in astonishment, probably wondering why I would enroll in a program that takes an additional two years to complete. It’s true that the program’s length seems daunting, but considering that these additional two years will produce a doctoral degree, it really doesn’t seem like a very long time at all.
Six years seems especially short when your days are spent between the pages of books and notes. My past three years seemed to have disappeared in the blink of an eye: in looking back, it feels as though the majority of these years was a whirlwind of lecture halls and library shelves. When the majority of your time is designated to studying, the days start to blend together and the semester is over before you know it.
As early as the first semester of your pre-professional phase, the program sets you up for a challenge. You will take eighteen credits’ worth of courses, including general chemistry, biology, and calculus, along with a few core courses. Finding a balance between studying for each course is essential, since creating good study habits from the beginning will be exceedingly helpful later in the semester when projects pile up and exam dates lurk around the corner.
Another important “balance” you should try to generate early in your pre-professional phase is the balance between studying, extracurriculars, and spending time with friends is essential. Devoting time to each of these is perfectly manageable, and makes your school life easier and more fun. The first two pre-professional years are the time to explore every possible opportunity, since these are the years in which you will have the most free time. While you will still be busy with schoolwork, you will have more time to devote to joining clubs, getting involved in leadership positions, or possibly studying abroad.
In your first professional year, you must adapt again, and find new balances. The curriculum will shift into becoming specifically focused on the science and practice of pharmacy. You will be learning hefty amounts of complex material in a relatively short period of time, making the curriculum challenging. While it’s true that studying will consume most of your time, you will still be able to participate in organizations and have free time, so long as you manage your time well. It is also incredibly important to remember to take time for yourself and do something fun every once in a while to decompress, refresh and regenerate motivation. Six years is a long time to spend in school, but it is much more manageable if you take time to enjoy the college experience while also learning fascinating information about the profession of pharmacy.
Ultimately, these six years are very well worth it: you will emerge with a Pharm.D degree, being the holder of a doctorate at only 24 years old. You will be out in the field with the job you desire earlier than some of your friends in other majors, who may have to go through another four years in graduate school before entering the career they want. Additionally, going through a six-year program will ultimately save you money. Some still earn Pharm.D degrees through completing their prerequisite courses in four years, rather than two, and then completing the four-year professional phase. In the six-year program, you will save two years’ worth of tuition while still receiving the same education.
Despite the challenges of the intense pharmacy curriculum, once a balance is found, it is perfectly manageable for students to devote enough time to all of the activities in which they desire to participate. Within these six years lie immense opportunities for not only learn about the profession of pharmacy, but also for encouraging personal growth. Managing your time well will enable you to make the most of your six years and take advantage of the innumerable exciting opportunities that await.