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Healthcare Related Extracurricular Experience as a Predictor of Pharmacy School Admissions and Academic Success Open Access

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The role pharmacists play on the healthcare team is important to the health of the nation and society. Pharmacists are the medication experts whose role is to optimize their patient's health. Today's student pharmacists are prepared through pharmacy education to play this role on the healthcare team. This requires pharmacy schools to identify the appropriate students to enroll in professional Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) programs. The purpose of this research is to examine healthcare related experience as a factor used to predict admission as well as success (academic and clinical performance) in the first and second professional year of the Pharm.D. curriculum. The study sample consisted of the Pharm.D. applicant pool for the 2010-2011 application cycle, which included 12,288 complete applications. A subset of this sample was combined with success markers (cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) in the first and second year, and Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) GPA for the first and second year (P1 and P2 years)) for a second sample that included 389 applicants. The methodology used for this research was binary logistic and multiple regression analysis. Statistically significant study findings showed that healthcare related extracurricular experience is a predictor of admission, but not of academic or clinical performance in the first or second year of the Pharm.D. curriculum. The study findings held practical significance for prospective applicants through explanation of the variables as predictors of admission, in order for prospective applicants to properly prepare for the pharmacy school admissions process. The findings are also relevant for admissions officers and will inform their admission processes. Limitations include confounding variables that impact cumulative and IPPE P1 and P2 GPAs, generalizability to all pharmacy schools, as well as a lack of variance in the outcomes measures. Future studies should be conducted at the institutional level and in other health professions to evaluate these admission characteristics in terms of student performance and success at the institution level and in other health professions programs. Future studies should also explore other holistic admission factors (e.g. leadership, community service, etc.) to see if they contribute to appropriate success markers in the pharmacy curriculum.

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