The practice of pharmacy is regulated by law, similar to other healthcare professions. In the United States, state laws limit pharmacy practice to those who have been duly licensed by the state. Qualifications for licensure include graduation from an accredited college of pharmacy, completion of required internship hours, and passing pharmacy practice and law examinations as determined by the board of pharmacy within the state. Only graduates with the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from an ACPE-accredited school of pharmacy are eligible for licensure.
While having a degree in another field does not qualify the graduate for admission to the licensure examination, individuals may receive credit for courses completed for another degree that are applicable to pharmacy, but in no event may they qualify for the PharmD degree in less than four years of resident study in the professional program. Since state internship requirements are not uniform, pharmacy candidates should acquaint themselves with the requirements in the state or states in which they wish to qualify to practice and with the steps necessary to fulfill these requirements.
The Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy allows up to 1000 hours of credit toward internship requirements for experience gained in Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations within the pharmacy curriculum, provided the student is registered with the board prior to entering the APPE rotations. An additional 500 hours of credit toward internship requirements must be attained by employment. Other states also may allow credit toward internship requirements. Students should contact the particular state board of pharmacy to determine specific requirements for obtaining such credit if granted.
At Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, the education of the pharmacist is built upon a thorough knowledge of the chemical, physical, biological, and social sciences and the liberal arts. During the pre-professional phase (2-4 years) of the ‘Ready +4’ PharmD program, pharmacy students complete most or all of the University general education requirements and the professional phase pre-requisites that provide foundational knowledge and skills in the biological, chemical, physical, and social sciences. Pharmacy students have the flexibility to complete minors, double majors, and study abroad during the pre-professional years and determine when they are ‘ready’ to enter the professional phase of the program. During the professional years, student pharmacists integrate, further elaborate, and apply their acquired knowledge, skills and attitudes through focused and integrated competency-driven professional coursework, interprofessional education, and Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs). The final year of professional training involves Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs), which allow student pharmacists to complete their personal and professional evolution to become compassionate and confident pharmacy professionals.
Students are admitted into the PharmD program either directly from high school or into P1, as an external transfer or internal change of major students; students who have previous baccalaureate degree and meet the professional pre-requisites enter into a post-baccalaureate track in the professional program. All admitted students must also meet and acknowledge understanding of the technical standards that define the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains needed as a student pharmacist and future pharmacy professional. As students advance through the program, they are inculcated with and acknowledge the incrementally increasing level of expectations for knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors associated with becoming a healthcare professional through signing of additional agreements. These agreements are elaborated in the PCP Student Handbook, available to all PCP students online at http://www.usciences.edu/Media/Website%20Resources/documents/academics/collegesDepts/PharmPracticeAdmin/PharmD/PCP_Student_Handbook.pdf; in the PCP Central Repository on Blackboard; and also in the PCP Dean’s office. Upon completing the pre-professional phase (72 credits) of the program, students who meet the academic standards of the program (completion of all pre-requisite coursework, minimum GPA, successful completion of the required professional education readiness interview), will progress to the professional years (P1–P4) of the PharmD program.
Transfer students from other institutions (with or without a baccalaureate degree) as well as internal change of major students are accepted into the P1 (first professional) year of the PharmD program on a competitive basis, if space is available after progression of previously enrolled students into P1, provided that admission standards are met. Admission into the P1 year of the PharmD program is handled by the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy Admissions Committee; the process and requirements for acceptance are distinct from freshman admission, but similarly entail evaluation of academic capability and suitability for professional education via previous academic record, PCAT scores for transfer students, and a required professional education readiness interview.
Clinical instruction is accomplished through a coordinated experiential program throughout the professional (P1–P4) years, that involves Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs) in P1-P3, and a final calendar year of Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs). The experiential program utilizes the extensive community, institutional, and industrial pharmacy facilities available in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. As described below (see Experiential Education), additional prerequisites must be fulfilled for placement and successful completion of experiential education.
Our vision is to create and foster dedicated pharmacists who will have a moral commitment to improve the quality of life of individual patients and have a positive impact on society by being an integral part of the healthcare team. Our graduates will be compassionate, knowledgeable, skilled and innovative, job-ready pharmacy practitioners, who will become trusted and respected leaders of the pharmacy profession. They will be able to adapt to the dynamic nature of the healthcare system and changing technology and serve as positive role models in the community. Our program will foster these ideals by providing a strong scientific education and the skills and attitudes (including patient-centered focus, inter-professional and lay communication, collaborative problem-solving, and proactive critical-thinking) needed in entry-level pharmacists’ roles now and in the future.
The goal of the PharmD program is to prepare a graduate who will be capable of providing patient care, with an emphasis on pharmaceutical care, as a means of achieving optimal patient outcomes. As such, the PharmD program outcomes expect each graduate to demonstrate competency (and the associated knowledge, skills and attitudes) in entry-level pharmacists’ roles, as outlined below (further details can be found in the PCP Student Handbook, available online at: http://www.usciences.edu/Media/Website%20Resources/documents/academics/collegesDepts/PharmPracticeAdmin/PharmD/PCP_Student_Handbook.pdf):
- life-long learner
- medical caregiver (medication expert)
- medication use manager
- health and wellness promoter
- population-based care provider
- problem solver
- patient advocate
- interprofessional collaborator
- compassionate and caring includer (to recognize and diminish healthcare disparities and inequities)
- self-aware individual
- trusted professional
The ‘Ready +4’ PharmD program has been implemented for direct entry students in fall 2016, with implementation of the innovative, learner-focused, competency-driven professional curriculum in fall 2018. The anticipated benefits of the new professional curriculum are greater student retention within the program and on time progression through the professional curriculum, as well as enhanced career preparation to meet the changing needs of the pharmacy profession.
The approved pre-requisite coursework for entry into the professional curriculum includes: 8 cr General Biology with lab; 8 cr General Chemistry with lab; 8 cr Organic Chemistry with lab; 4 cr Physics; 3 cr Calculus; 3 cr Statistics; 4 cr Microbiology with lab; 3 cr Speech; 3 cr Writing ; 3 cr Social/Behavioral Science; 3 cr microeconomics; 8 cr Anatomy and Physiology with lab (live or simulated).
In the approved competency-driven professional curriculum, the focus is on students developing the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors for confident and collaborative patient-centered care, innovation and leadership right from day one of their first professional year. The four-year professional curriculum will be delivered in a modular format, utilizing leading edge pedagogical and assessment best practices, with inter-professional and experiential education fully integrated with the didactic curriculum. Crucial to the success of the new curriculum is the personalized learning support students will receive, and the sequential, pre-planned assessments of competence at specific performance levels, both focused (within modules) and integrated across individual course modules.
The approved four year professional curriculum is comprised of a series of foundational modules in practice skills, professional behavior and communication, biomedical (biochemistry, cell biology), immunology, and pharmaceutical sciences, and health care policy and law; a series of fourteen integrated Pharmacy Sciences, Disease and Therapeutics modules; a two module series focused on Medication Use Systems; a two module sequence focused on Drug Information and Literature Evaluation; an Applied Professional Behavior and Communication module; an Entrepreneurship module; two Integrated Practice Modules; and electives. These are interspersed with 300 hours of Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs) off campus during the P1-P3 years, and brought to a practice ready level during the P4 year by a minimum of 1440 hours of Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs).
For first-year undergraduate students (U1) entering fall 2016 (Catalog Year 2016) and thereafter General Education requirements (excluding multidisciplinary inquiry requirement) must be met before entering the professional curriculum. The BS PHHCS degree will be conferred upon successful completion of general education requirements and the specific coursework for the degree. Students entering the PharmD program directly from high school (direct entry students) must enroll for a minimum of 12 credits hours each semester and be enrolled at the University for at least four semesters of pre-professional education. In the professional component of the PharmD program, all students (direct entry from high school, transfers and change of majors) must be enrolled during P1-P3 as full-time students (minimum of 12 credit hours per semester) for a minimum of an additional six semesters, plus a final year (P4) of Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPEs) distributed over a calendar year.
Progression in the PharmD program is defined as the year-to-year advancement in the program, based on satisfactory completion of all required coursework, achievement of minimum academic and program-specific grade point averages, and meeting any additional academic requirements, including proficiencies, in a timely manner.
For direct entry PharmD students, progression from undergraduate status into P1 (first professional year) occurs when the following criteria are met: all required pre-professional and undergraduate coursework and both a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 and a natural science/math GPA of 2.50 are achieved prior to entry into the P1 year. Students who do not meet these criteria will be withdrawn from the program; if their cumulative GPA is above 2.50, these students will be reviewed for readmission into the program on a competitive basis, space permitting. If not readmitted, students may apply to other programs. Students must successfully complete an interview prior to progression into the first professional year (P1) of the program.
Students entering the University as undergraduates or who transfer into the first professional year (P1) of the PharmD program without a previous baccalaureate degree will be eligible to earn the BS in Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Studies (BS PHHCS) at the completion of their second professional year (P2). In order to earn this degree, students must meet all University requirements for the BS PHHCS degree and must be in good academic standing.
In the professional years of the PharmD program (i.e., P1–P4), students who achieve below a semester GPA of 2.30 will receive program probation. Students who exceed two program probations or do not complete program requirements within the maximum number of years of residence in the program will be withdrawn from the program. Students must achieve a minimum grade of “C-” (“P” if taking pass/fail election) for satisfactory completion of all non-elective required courses with the prefix PA, PC, PH, PP, or RX and must adhere to the appropriate course sequencing as indicated by prerequisites, co-requisites, and program year. Students who achieve a grade of less than “C-” upon repetition of the same non-elective required course with the prefix PA, PC, PH, PP, or RX will be dropped from the program. The Office of the Dean of PCP monitors compliance with all academic standards as well as student progression through the program. For greater detail, please see the PCP Student Handbook.
All admitted students must be certified in basic life support (BLS) for healthcare providers (HCPs) through the American Heart Association or CPR/AED for Professional Rescuers and HCPs through the American Red Cross throughout the professional years (P1-P4) of the program (e.g., certification as P1 in fall and recertification as P3 in spring). Students in classes prior to 2018 (catalog years 2011 and earlier) must be certified in first aid/CPR by the American Red Cross, BLS for HCPs, or CPR/AED, prior to P4, or as required for experiential training (IPPEs or APPEs). Competence in pharmaceutical calculations must be demonstrated via successful completion of the Calculations Proficiency Exam in their final didactic semester on campus, prior to progressing to the fourth professional year (P4). Students are also required to undergo periodic criminal background checks and/or drug screens throughout the professional years to participate in the IPPE and APPE components of the curriculum. Students may be required to participate in additional assessments (e.g. Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA), course evaluations, surveys, etc.) to provide feedback to the college about courses, curriculum, and their experiences as student pharmacists.
Completing the entry-level doctor of pharmacy program at the PCP requires full-time (i.e. 12 credits/semester or greater) enrollment from the time the student is admitted. Students admitted into the first professional year of the program must be enrolled for at least four years (i.e. eight semesters of at least 12 credits/semester) in residency at the college, regardless of the nature or extent of previous academic experience. Such students, however, will receive credit in those basic sciences and general education subjects completed at another institution that are considered equivalent in content and semester-hour credit to courses included in the pre-pharmacy curriculum at this University, provided they earned a grade of “C” or better. All required professional coursework (with prefixes PA, PC, PH, PP, RX) must be completed at PCP/ USciences.
Residency and Length of Time to Complete Program of Student
Students enrolled in programs in PCP have a maximum amount of time to complete the requirements necessary for graduation in their program of study. For bachelor’s degree programs, students have a maximum of six years from U1 entry into the University to complete all degree requirements. Direct entry PharmD students entering fall 2016 (Catalog Year 2016) and thereafter have up to 8 semesters to complete pre-professional coursework (excluding summer sessions or inter-sessions). For the doctor of pharmacy program, students have a maximum of six years from entry into the first professional year (P1) to complete all degree requirements. If a student cannot complete the degree in the allotted time of six years, the student will be withdrawn from the program.
Program requirement on Technical Standards
Admitted students must meet and acknowledge understanding of the technical standards that define the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains needed as a student pharmacist and future pharmacy professional. As students advance through the program, they are inculcated with and acknowledge the incrementally increasing level of expectations for knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors associated with becoming a healthcare professional through signing of additional agreements. These agreements are elaborated in the PCP Student Handbook.
The Doctor of Pharmacy degree program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). The ACPE is an autonomous and independent national agency whose board of directors (the decision- and policy-making body) includes pharmacy educators, pharmacy practitioners, state board of pharmacy members/executives, and a public representative. A three-member public interest panel also provides public perspectives in the policy- and decision-making processes of accreditation. ACPE offices are located at 135 S. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60603-4810, 312.664.3575, www.acpe-accredit.org. Accreditation status is available at the website.
Student Comments and Complaints
ACPE requires that colleges of pharmacy respond to any written complaints by pharmacy students relating to adherence to the standards, policies, and procedures of ACPE. Students should submit a written comment or complaint to the Office of the Dean of Pharmacy (GH 2016). All comments or complaints will be evaluated, and a written response will be provided. Students are also encouraged to visit the ACPE website at www.acpe-accredit.org,, where comments/complaints may be submitted.
Student Participation in Experiential Education
Students and the University must satisfy requirements imposed by training sites as a condition of student participation in experiential education, starting with Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPEs) in the first professional year (P1) and continuing through P2 and P3, and furthered in the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPEs) in the final year of the program. As a prerequisite to being permitted to begin, or continue, rotations (IPPEs or APPEs) at off-campus training sites, students must be able to:
- Provide a Social Security number.
- Provide a medical history including immunity to infectious diseases via documentation of infectious disease history (e.g., measles, rubella, hepatitis B) and/or vaccinations, including titers for certain agents, as requested by and per site or program schedule.
- Have a negative PPD or chest x-ray, if indicated.
- Complete a physical examination.
- Submit to a criminal background check and other background checks with disclosure to site of any convictions consistent with their criteria.
- Submit to a drug screen with disclosure to site of any positive findings for drugs that are taken without medical supervision.
- Provide evidence of and maintain personal medical insurance coverage at all times while at off-campus training sites.
- Provide clinical training certifications (e.g. CPR or BLS) that are required by site.
Depending on the requirements of the affiliation agreement between the site and the University, the documentation requested may be coordinated by or at the training site, or facilitated by the University using campus-based programs, or an external agency. In all cases, the student is ultimately responsible for ensuring all prerequisites have been satisfied, with documentation submitted in a timely manner, per deadlines, and any associated costs. Placement in experiential sites will depend on timely completion of prerequisites and student identification of preferences, but may be subject to a lottery system if supply and demand are mismatched. Students may be required to obtain their own transportation and to assume associated costs for their own automobile or public transportation to and from experiential sites.
Doctor of Pharmacy students are expected to agree and comply with the conditions of the Pharmacy Practice Professionalism Agreement during pharmacy practice experiential coursework (IPPEs and APPEs), which can be found in the PCP Student Handbook. A student unable to comply with the agreement may be removed from a rotation, may fail a rotation, or may be administratively withdrawn from the PharmD (Doctor of Pharmacy) program.
If a student is unable to satisfy the requirements listed above, the University may be unable to place the student in an experiential education setting. As a result, the student may be unable to complete the graduation requirements outlined by the major and may be unable to obtain licensure. Specific licensure requirements for each state’s board of pharmacy and licensure examination pass rates for graduates can be found at the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy website (www.nabp.net). Licensure pass rates, retention and progression data and other programmatic measures for PCP’s PharmD program are posted on the University website at: (http://www.usciences.edu/Media/Website%20Resources/documents/academics/collegesDepts/PharmPracticeAdmin/PharmD/PCP_Student_Handbook.pdf ).