Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Admission Variables Predictive of Academic Struggle in a PharmD Program

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Admission Variables Predictive of Academic Struggle in a PharmD Program

Article excerpt


The number of pharmacy degree programs has grown to 129 (109 full accreditation, 15 candidate, 5 pre-candidate). (1) For the September 2009-August 2010 admission cycle, 111,744 admission applications were received and reported from 120 programs. (2) According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) 2010 Fall Enrollment Report, the number of students admitted to existing programs increased from 7,377 in 1980 to over 13,000 in 2010. (2) The ratio of applicants to admitted students has remained high, highlighting the need for efficient and effective admission screening.

Pharmacy degree programs continue to face the challenge of identifying and admitting applicants most likely to successfully complete the program and become competent members of the profession. According to AACP admissions requirement data of pharmacy colleges and schools, the average overall minimum grade point average (GPA) is 2.7 and the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) minimum average score is 52. Applicants are encouraged or required to complete and submit PCAT results by over two-thirds of pharmacy colleges and schools. (3)

Many studies have looked at preadmission student characteristics and the correlations to academic success. (4-30) Most of those studies were conducted in 4-year programs over a 1- to 6-year period, with academic success being measured at different timeframes within the curriculum. Predictors of academic success within pharmacy degree programs have included prepharmacy GPA and prepharmacy math/science GPA, (14, 17, 20, 24) PCAT composite and PCAT subcategory scores, (18, 20, 21, 25, 27) and achievement of a 4-year college degree. (14, 16, 17, 19, 24, 30) In contrast, some studies do not consider GPA as predictive, (14, 16, 18, 19, 23, 27) some studies suggest use of the PCAT subcategory scores (10, 15, 20, 22) over the PCAT composite score, and 1 study opposed the 4-year degree achievement as a predictor of success in pharmacy school. (22) Another study assessed factors related to advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) grades in doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) programs. (31) In this study, characteristics such as higher first-year GPA and more years of prior clinical pharmacy work experience were associated with higher APPE grades. One study concluded that students most successful in the first year of pharmacy school had prepharmacy cumulative GPAs of 3.5 and higher PCAT scores in all subsets except problem-solving, compared with students placed on academic probation. (32)

Our study was conducted at a school of pharmacy within a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Pharmacy was established in 1885 and educates over 500 students per year using 2 campuses. During the study period, this PharmD program had 2 admission pathways for students: traditional and provisional acceptance. The traditional admission pathway was known as the 1 plus 5 program, wherein 1 year of prerequisite coursework is required before completing 5 years of the pharmacy curriculum. Students with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher and a minimum science/math GPA of 2.5 or higher were eligible to apply for this pathway. All student applicants had to complete the prerequisite coursework with grades of C or higher prior to admittance. Factors considered in the admission process are listed in Appendix 1.

The provisional admission pathway was available to high school seniors with a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or above at the beginning of their senior year and those whose American College Testing (ACT) or Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) composite score was a minimum of 23 or 1060, respectively. Students accepted in the provisional pathway completed 1 year of prepharmacy coursework at the university before entering the 5-year pharmacy degree program. After completing the first year of prepharmacy coursework, an index score was created for provisional pathway students that included GPA and composite scaled PCAT scores (first-year GPA x 100 1 scaled PCAT score). …

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