A PA/PharmD dual degree allows you to combine the studies from a graduate physician assistant (PA) program with everything you would take in a Doctor of Pharmacy program. Although you will have a specific timeline for completing your studies, there are separate requirements for both aspects of the dual degree. The program is a rare combination, and pharmacy students seeking dual degrees may want to look at other options if the PA option is not available.
Combined PA/PharmD Degree
Entering a dual degree program for PA and PharmD will require a specific schedule set forth by a collaboration between two departments at your university, and could last between five to seven years. You may start out with pharmacy courses, and after gaining admission, start your PA courses while under your pharmacy rotations in a summer session. Your later years in pharmacy school could be substituted with your training in the PA program, and your clinical experience could count as an elective portion of your pharmacy clinical studies. You will likely finish your PharmD requirements and earn your doctorate before finishing your certification as a physician assistant. Find out more about the components of the individual programs below.
A Doctor of Pharmacy program could take up to six years alone to complete as you'll learn how to work in many different settings, including government buildings, drugstores, hospitals, and home healthcare environments. General education courses will contribute to your first couple of years as a pharmaceutical student, followed by years of professional experiences. You'll study various organ systems and how they are affected by interactions with different types of medicine and drugs. During the clinical aspect of a PharmD program, you'll get to work inside a pharmacy and get an idea of where you would like to start a career. You'll become certified in CPR if you aren't already familiar with it by the time you enter the advanced stages of your professional courses. During your classes, you'll cover topics like nutrition, interactive learning, and ambulatory care.
Like a Doctor of Pharmacy, a physician assistant graduate program places equal emphasis on clinical and classroom courses. A standalone PA program typically lasts between two and three years. During your time in the classroom, you'll study how to gather information and use clinical reasoning skills. The major systems throughout the body are covered in different sections, and you'll focus on memorization of different organ functions to help you quickly diagnose injury and illness in the future. When you move on to the clinical portion of the degree, you'll get to experience practicum sessions in a variety of areas, including behavioral, emergency, and family medicine.
Admission Requirements for PA/PharmD Dual Degree Programs
You'll typically need to be accepted into a pharmacy program before you can consider applying to a dual degree program that includes a physician assistant graduate degree. Availability could be limited, so your application should be as strong as possible. If required, send your GRE scores from the most recent five years before your starting class date. Previous coursework in areas like chemistry, biology, and anatomy/physiology is highly recommended, and your GPA should be no lower than a 3.0. Your school may require a criminal background check as a prerequisite to an offer of admission, along with immunization records that are up to date.
Although rare, PA/PharmD dual degree programs prepare you for a multifaceted professional career in the medical and pharmaceutical industries. You can expect to follow a strict schedule while learning about the clinical and professional sides of patient care.