NDSU School of Pharmacy offers path to early admission

Two paths are now available to achieve a pharmacy degree from NDSU. What could be termed a concept similar to “early signing day” in other areas of collegiate life is allowing the NDSU School of Pharmacy to help students on their path to a career in pharmacy while still in high school.

Known as the Early Admission Pathway, the new option in the NDSU School of Pharmacy provides advantages to students, while helping to strategically plan enrollment for the School of Pharmacy. Some students know their career direction early and the new program focuses on high-achieving high school students who want an expedited path to achieve their goals.

“NDSU School of Pharmacy maintains its competitive standards for students seeking early admission, while providing students the opportunity to manage their investment in their future,” said Charles Peterson, dean of the School of Pharmacy and College of Health Professions at NDSU.

Students applying to the program must have high academic credentials, including high school grade point averages and ACT or SAT scores. Students are evaluated during the spring before they enroll at NDSU as first-year students. To be considered, students must be admitted to NDSU and must complete the PharmDirect application and submit fees by February 1 each year.

“A major benefit of the program is that it streamlines the pre-professional curriculum without sacrificing content and provides value to students and their families,” said Dr. Daniel Friesner, associate dean for student affairs and faculty development, NDSU College of Health Professions.

Students can complete the required pre-professional pharmacy courses in two years, rather than the traditional curriculum that takes students as many as three years to complete. The Early Admission Pathway includes four semesters of full-time academic work.

This option is designed to be academically challenging, as specific required courses are taught in a condensed manner.

It’s a path that appealed to Keila Phillips, currently enrolled in the program. “I wanted to reduce stress from the application process in order to focus solely on my schoolwork for the year. I also liked that we would start taking classes specifically made for pharmacy students,” she said.

“I think it was the right choice for me because of the benefits that have come from the added pharmacy classes and also because I could solidify my spot in the program,” Phillips said. “Through taking Pharmaceutical Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry for Pharmacists and Writing and Professionalism in Pharmacy, I believe I have an excellent foundation to enter into my P1 year successfully. I would not be as prepared for my P1 year if I had rejected the pathway option and not taken these classes,” said Phillips. 

Pre-pharmacy student Brianna O’Gary also found the new option fit her needs. “I think this was the right choice for me to begin my future career in pharmacy,” said O’Gary.” I have been able to learn about specific topics related to pharmacy that I would not have been able to learn about in the general classes.”

O’Gary appreciates the preparation the new option allows. “In our biochemistry class, we do a case study about a condition and a drug in every class and connect that to the current topic we are learning about. Also in our English class, we just completed a project of writing SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment, and plan) notes. This allows us to have a foundation to build upon prior to entering the program,” said O’Gary.

Upon successfully completing their first year at NDSU, students who maintain academic and professional requirements then transition into a five-year professional program. During their first year in the professional program, students complete all remaining pre-professional requirements, along with the expedited set of courses to prepare them for the final four years of the professional program. Students also complete the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) and are interviewed on-site.

When students meet all academic and professional requirements as specified by the College at the time of admission and in their conditional early admission letter, their transition into the final four years of the professional program is typically guaranteed.

In addition to the Early Admission Pathway option, NDSU’s traditional three-year, pre-professional curriculum and admissions process remains in place.  Students who are not offered the opportunity to participate in the EAP, or who decline to participate in the EAP, will have access to the same pathway to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree as they did before the implementation of the EAP.

A committee designing the program studied 15 other similar programs in the U.S. to gauge benchmarks for such offerings.

“It allows us to integrate our pre-pharmacy students into the School of Pharmacy earlier and provides increased emphasis on individual pharmacy advising and preparation for admissions,” said Dr. Daniel Friesner.

The new Early Admission Pathway appeals to high achieving high school seniors, regional college student transfers and national college student transfers.

For her part, Phillips augments her early pathway option by working in an outpatient pharmacy. “Some areas that have caught my interest are nutritional support pharmacy and retail pharmacy with an emphasis in functional medicine,” said Phillips. She achieved her minor in Spanish previously and hopes being bilingual will open additional career doors in the future.

O’Gary also enjoys her internship at a local pharmacy and is interested in exploring ambulatory care and psychiatric pharmacy.

For more information about the NDSU School of Pharmacy Early Admission Pathway, visit www.ndsu.edu/majors/pharmacy/


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