How do I prepare for pharmacy school during my gap year?
More and more students are deciding to take a gap year after they graduate from college to prepare for pharmacy school.
While some students who graduate from college go directly into a PharmD program, others are taking time to regroup and prepare for the commitment to pharmacy school. If used strategically, a gap year can be a great opportunity to strengthen your application to pharmacy school.
Every person’s gap year will look different, and there is no “one size fits all” answer for what you should do; however, here are some ideas that may point you in the right direction:
#1 Gain more relevant work experience
Maybe during undergrad program, you didn’t have time to volunteer, intern, or work. Now is a great opportunity to gain more real world work experience in the field of pharmacy to make sure applying to pharmacy school is the right decision for you. Pharmacy schools will look at your past work experience in a pharmacy or health care setting, so the more experience the better!
#2 Improve your PCAT score
Maybe you didn’t score as high on the PCAT as you had anticipated. Now that you’ve graduated, you don’t have to balance your time between studying for the PCAT and your academic responsibilities. Now you can solely focus on preparing for the PCAT.
Pharmacy schools usually require a minimum score on the PCAT as part of their admissions requirements. You should check with the specific requirements for each school you plan on applying to and sign up to retake the PCAT to improve your score.
#3 Enhance your record
Most PharmD programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0. If your GPA was on the lower side, you can take additional, relevant coursework and perform well to indicate you are capable of achieving higher grades in rigorous courses.
#4 Consider enrolling in a post-bac program
A post-bac program is designed to support the transition to professional school and is reserved for individuals who have already earned an undergraduate degree.
UCI’s Post-Baccalaureate Program in Pharmaceutical Sciences is a great option to help strengthen your application to competitive graduate programs in pharmacy or other health fields. This one-year program is intended for career changers or for those who do not have an undergraduate degree in pharmaceutical sciences or pharmacology.
The program equips students with a solid understanding of pharmaceutical sciences through upper-division academic coursework and provides access to faculty mentors. Students have the opportunity to participate in laboratory research and attend seminars that cover a variety of topics including PCAT preparation, graduate school applications, and interviewing skills.
While your gap year can be used to prepare a strong application to Pharmacy School, it can also serve as an opportunity to recharge before starting a rigorous PharmD program. Consider doing something you’ve always wanted to do, like travel or volunteer with an organization or cause you are passionate about. Spend time with your family; reconnect with old friends; take a break from studying. Use this time to explore all of your options and really think about what you want to do with your life.
What you decide to do during your gap year is a personal decision that only you can make for yourself. Taking time to reflect and plan for your future may provide you with more clarity on what direction you should take. Good luck!