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Real-World Learning

Saint Joseph’s PharmD Students Stay Ahead in a Changing Industry

The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy at Saint Joseph’s has a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum that puts its graduates ahead of their peers in the industry through unparalleled clinical placements and five additional certifications.

Two female Saint Joseph's PCP students looking at medicine bottle

Written by: Emmalee Eckstein

Published: November 1, 2023

Total reading time: 3 minutes

Just 30 years ago, being a pharmacist centered around distribution — pharmacists were relied upon to prepare, package and dispense medications as directed by physicians. But today, pharmacists have become much more multifaceted — they interface with patients, manage medication regimens, prevent drug interactions and take on an essential role within a patient’s care team. With this in mind, the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (PCP) at Saint Joseph’s has a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum that sets its graduates apart from their peers, with easy access to certifications and a heavy focus on face-to-face patient care.

“The PharmD program at PCP is built around a competency-driven curriculum,” explains Laura Waite, PharmD, assistant dean of student affairs and admissions at PCP. “We’re always more concerned with what you can actively do to support patient care than what information you may have memorized.”

Because of this, Saint Joseph’s PharmD program relies heavily on active learning over lecture-based instruction.

“We’re not focused on asking our students to recite the four ways a patient can check their blood sugar,” explains Waite. “We’re asking them to demonstrate how they would counsel a patient on checking their blood sugar. It’s patient-focused, functional work.”

The PharmD curriculum at SJU is designed for students to practice skills on an application level in multiple aspects in its entirety, which is what makes it stand apart from other programs. Part of the program’s strength is drawn from the breadth and depth of experiential opportunities available to PCP student pharmacists.

“PCP is over 200 years old,” Waite points out. “That gives us a tremendous advantage when it comes to our institutional reputation and alumni network. You don’t make it more than 200 years in this industry without proving you’re exceptional.”

PCP is not affiliated with a single healthcare system, making it possible for students to partner with a much wider variety of companies and providers across the globe than their system-bound counterparts.

“The placements our students get are intentionally career-building,” says Waite. “While they have to complete certain required rotations for accreditation, what those rotations are and where they take place can be highly individualized because of the variety of options they have to choose from. And elective rotations give students an even broader opportunity to experience different aspects of pharmacy”

PharmD students are regularly offered full time positions at the companies and practices where they have completed their rotations, which is just one way the PharmD program fast tracks its students into the workforce.

SJU’s PharmD students leave the program with an additional five certifications in diabetes management, mental health first aid, immunizations, comprehensive medication management and SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment — a public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with or at risk for substance use disorders).

While certifications in immunizations commonly come included in most pharmacy programs, the others included in SJU’s PharmD are earned in the field and provide students with resumé building skills and licenses that most pharmacists can only obtain through additional training.

“Our students are doing so much more hands-on work than their peers,” says Waite. “It only makes sense that we should be certifying them in the field as they are learning those skills. And we have the only program I know of that is making this possible for students.”

Armed with hundreds of hours of practical experience, bonus certifications and unmatched industry connections, Saint Joseph’s PCP PharmD students enter the workforce with a leg up on their peers. Learn more about our PharmD program and how you can make an impact as a pharmacist.