Category: Fellows Posters
Career opportunities available to pharmacy graduates are vast and diverse. Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) programs are designed to develop and apply curricular knowledge and skills within several professional experience environments, including co-curricular activities. The purpose of this analysis was to identify the career preferences most influenced by involvement in professional organizations and determine which professional organizations most impacted career preferences. Furthermore, additional co-curricular activities that influenced career preferences were identified.
A voluntary, anonymized, online Qualtrics survey was administered to students enrolled in Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) accredited professional pharmacy programs. Surveys were sent to faculty and staff of these schools in January 2019 to share with students in the next four graduating PharmD classes (graduation years 2019-2022). The survey consisted of a series of Likert-scale, ranking, multiple choice, and free-response questions. Participants indicated their top two post-graduate career preferences and ranked seven factors based on the degree to which they influenced a student’s preference to pursue that career. These factors include: conference or professional meeting attendance, completion of required didactic coursework, completion of elective coursework, paid employment experience (full-time/part-time), participation in a club or extra-curricular activity, completion of a rotational experience, or volunteered time in this field of pharmacy (e.g., unpaid internship). An analysis was performed to determine the number of students who ranked professional organization participation as the most influential aspect in their career preferences. From this, additional analyses were performed on each career preference to determine the influence of specific co-curricular activities. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board.
Professional organizational participation showed the greatest impact in participants’ desire to pursue careers in MC pharmacy and the PI. These roles are considered non-traditional with key skills often acquired outside of the core didactic PharmD curriculum. As such, these data show that students may not be aware of potential career options unless they are exposed through co-curricular involvement. The study highlights the importance of supplementing the PharmD curriculum with co-curricular activities so PharmD students can gain an understanding of the skills required to pursue non-traditional careers. Further studies should identify co-curriculars offered at each school to determine gaps in opportunities.