Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Diversity Characteristics of the 2008-2009 Pharmacy College Application Service Applicant Pool

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Diversity Characteristics of the 2008-2009 Pharmacy College Application Service Applicant Pool

Article excerpt


Pharmacists serve a diverse patient population and, with that, comes a responsibility to diversify the pharmacy workforce. In 2004, the Sullivan Commission published a report stating that higher concordance between the racial/ethnic background of the patient and that of the provider lead to more positive clinical outcomes and higher perceived quality of care. (1) Providers exposed to a diverse population of peers are also more likely to serve underrepresented populations, thereby increasing access to health care for the underserved. (1-4) As it stands now, the ethnic demographics of the pharmacy workforce have not changed since 2000, despite an increase in Hispanic/ Latino, African-American, Asian, and Native Hawaiian ethnicities and a decrease in the Caucasian ethnicity, as documented in the 2010 US census. (5,6) The discrepancy between the pharmacy workforce and the national population, which has been propagated by a lack of diversity in pharmacy school admissions, adds to the discordance between patient and provider.

Realizing the importance of this working relationship, the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacy (ASHP) created a task force to address this issue in 2007. The task force published a report establishing goals and objectives on how the pharmacy profession should address demographic disparities within the profession. (7) In order to make headway on the goals set forth by ASHP and other organizations, an evaluation of the characteristics of the national pharmacy school applicant pool is critical.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) publishes annual reports summarizing aggregate applicant data in the context of future workforce, incoming workforce (recent graduates), and current workforce. (8) With regard to the pharmacy applicant pool, the data presented in these reports are limited to reporting numbers of submitted applications categorized by demographic characteristics (ie, ethnicity, gender, and prepharmacy education). The AACP does not report aggregate data on other variables that further describe the applicant pool, such as parental education, mean grade point average (GPA), pharmacy college admission test (PCAT) scores, and overall acceptance rates. The limited availability of this information has been mentioned in several publications reporting on diversity in pharmacy. (9-11)

Chisholm-Burns, who addressed the issue of diversity in 2007, suggested a working definition of diversity that includes but is not limited to the characteristics of religion, sexual orientation, social economic status, personal and parental education, language, and disabilities. (12) This definition served as a blueprint for the current study; however, based on the nature of Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) data, not all demographic variables could be accounted for. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationships between applicants' race/ethnicity, gender, parental education, and prepharmacy education and their prepharmacy school GPA, PCAT score, and pharmacy college or school acceptance rates.


A secondary data analysis was conducted on the 2008-2009 pharmacy school applicant pool using de-identified data from PharmCAS. The PharmCAS dataset was used in this study to assess relationships between available independent variables of diversity (ie, ethnicity, gender, parental education, prepharmacy education) and the following dependent variables: GPA (overall, science, math), PCAT (scores, number of attempts), number of applications submitted, and acceptance rate (overall, public schools, private schools, and colleges and schools ranked in the top 10 in 2009 by U.S. News & World Report and the top 10 colleges and schools receiving National Institutes of Health [NIH] funding in 2009, as ranked by AACP).

Although variables of diversity are multifactorial, ethnicity, gender, parental education and prepharmacy education were most clearly defined by the dataset and collected in PharmCAS by applicant self-report. …

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