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Curriculum

Our accredited Doctor of Pharmacy program requires three years of pre-pharmacy studies followed by four years of professional education, regardless of prior degrees.

Students spend the first three years of the Doctor of Pharmacy program on the WSU Health Sciences campus in Spokane or the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program extension on the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences campus in Yakima.

The fourth year is a series of six Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE) in assigned geographic locations across Washington and in northern California. A seventh rotation is optional. Read more about our rotations on the Office of Experiential Services webpage.

Innovation in teaching

The College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) takes seriously our mission to develop outstanding health care professionals. We have a long history of being committed to preparing pharmacists not only to enter the practice of pharmacy today, but to lead the changes in the practice of pharmacy that are certain to come in the future. Student pharmacists begin interacting with patients and other health care professionals in their first year, and direct patient care opportunities continue throughout the curriculum.

Competency-based education

We measure student performance based on a competency-based assessment model. What this means is our grading model is “Honors-Satisfactory-Fail” (HSF) as opposed to a GPA grading model. This emphasis on demonstration of learning and mastery of skill prepares graduates to become competent pharmacy practitioners and takes the focus off the attainment of a course grade. Within our HSF grading model nearly all student pharmacists have progressed through to the spring semester in their first year (“fall behind” rate is less than 0.5 percent). The national average is around 10 percent.

Patient care

Student pharmacists begin interacting with patients and other health care professionals in their first year, and direct patient care opportunities continue throughout the curriculum.

A better teaching model

New pharmacists are entering a world of constant change and collaboration; competent graduating pharmacists must therefore also be lifelong learners and collaborators. Our active-learning based curriculum prepares you for this environment. We flip the traditional learning model and put the focus on the successful development of the student. As the name “active” describes, you will be expected to be actively involved and take ownership in the learning process both inside and outside the classroom.

We pair this teaching model with a system of support and learning resources to ensure each student has the greatest opportunity for learning success. Student ambassadors, student mentors, student-led organizations, student services resources, free campus tutoring, alumni mentoring, and faculty advisors provide a network that contributes to student achievement.

Our active-learning and competency-based curriculum places WSU among the most progressive pharmacy programs in the country and aligns with our commitment to the best possible educational experience for all students.

This classroom model follows a clear trend in higher education toward learner-centered teaching, and is built upon sound research based educational practices. Integrating this flipped classroom with a competency-based HSF grading model equates to a learning environment that is truly innovative and effective.

Professional certificate training

As one of the first programs in the nation to offer immunization training, our college has helped spearhead public access to immunizations. Our Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery certificate program from the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is nationally recognized in the US and around the world. In the second year of the Doctor of Pharmacy program, you will complete the APhA vaccination training certificate program so that you can begin working in community health clinics and gain real-world experiences during rotations. Receiving our nationally recognized training certificate not only helps you get a head start in working with patients, but also gives you vital skills for your career in pharmacy.

Certificates & Dual Degrees

Pharmacy students looking to extend their skill-sets beyond the realm of pharmacy have the option to participate in certificate and dual degree programs.

Four professional years

Our Doctor of Pharmacy program consists of four professional years. Below is a brief description that outlines the learning objectives of each year:

Foundational biomedical & pharmaceutical sciences

Professional year 1
Key concepts include understanding the connection between how biochemistry, anatomy and physiology relates to drug therapy, the top 200 drugs, foundational physical assessment and communication skills.


Mastery of theoretical background and application

Professional year 2
Student pharmacists engage in increased peer-to-peer role-play, simulation of real world clinical scenarios, and faculty-led case discussions with constructive and helpful feedback.


Empowering interdisciplinary and interprofessional team collaboration

Professional year 3
Student pharmacists take patient assessment and evaluation skills to a higher level by working with complicated patient cases and developing confidence in building patient specific therapeutic plans.


Rotations

Professional year 4
This year is split into six, 6-week advanced pharmacy practice experience rotations. Students will be in real practice settings and be involved with the care of patients under the supervision of a WSU preceptor.

Pharmacy careers

“One of the greatest aspects of my position is the variety. On any given day I may research information about a new drug for a monograph I am writing, answer questions from pharmacists and patients, and help teach a class.”
– Terri Levien, Drug Information Pharmacist & Clinical Professor

View career profiles

Student Success and Professional Development course overview

Student Success and Professional Development (SSPD) is a three-course series taught during the fall of each didactic year designed to support the development of the skills, attitudes and values that are essential for practicing health care professionals. Beginning with the class of 2023, student pharmacists are required to enroll each fall (PY1-PY3) in a 1-credit SSPD course. This course introduces the 10 pharmacist attributes, per ACPE accreditation standards 3 and 4. (self-awareness, professionalism, innovation and entrepreneurship, leadership, problem solving, interprofessional collaboration, communication, education, patient advocacy and cultural awareness). The intent of this course is to provide students with strategies focused on learning, well-being, career development, development within the 10 pharmacist attributes, and co-curricular engagement to enhance success throughout the program and post-graduation.

These courses connect to the yearly Continuous Professional Development Plan and Co-Curricular requirements. Want to learn more? Visit the Advising & Co-Curricular Engagement page.

About SSPD I: Pharmacy 506

This course is designed to allow PY1 students to begin answering the question: Who am I as a professional student pharmacist?

As part of this course, students are required to begin working on their Continuous Professional Development Plan and Co-Curricular requirements. This course focuses on problem solving, communication, self-awareness, and professionalism

Examples of topics covered: Acclimating to pharmacy school; learning the curriculum and co-curriculum; goal setting; career exploration; development of Continuous Professional Development Plan and Co-Curricular Activities; study skills; life/school balance and wellness.

About SSPD II: Pharmacy 536

This course is designed to allow PY2 students to begin answering the question: Who am I as a health care provider?

As part of this course, students are required to begin working on their Continuous Professional Development Plan and Co-Curricular requirements. This course focuses on on interprofessional collaboration, demonstration of cultural sensitivity, communication, self-awareness, leadership, and professionalism.

Examples of topics covered: Strategic reflection for professional growth; self-assessment; cultural exploration; ethics in health care; wellness in health care; leadership in health care; career opportunities; Continuous Professional Development Plan and Co-Curricular Activities.

About SSPD III: Pharmacy 556

This course is designed to allow PY3 students to begin answering the question: Who am I as an innovative individual who serves to meet the needs of the community?

As part of this course, students will be required to begin working on their Continuous Professional Development Plan and Co-Curricular requirements. This course focuses on education, patient advocacy, cultural sensitivity, self-awareness, innovation, and entrepreneurship and professionalism.

Examples of topics covered: self-assessment; the future of health care; assessing unmet community needs; career exploration and opportunities; residency and job searching; preparation for rotations; Continuous Professional Development Plan and Co-Curricular Activities.

Washington State University