When you think about medical professionals, you probably imagine nurses and doctors. But for the vast majority of us, our significant medical interactions happen not in the hospital, but in CVS, Walgreens, and other pharmacies. In other words, pharmacists play a much more critical role in our health than any other worker. They do more than just follow the doctor’s orders. They consult with patients to make sure that we understand the medicine and are
Think about it: when you’re sick, you might see a nurse for 30 minutes and the doctor for half of that, but it’s the pharmacist who gets you your medicine, walks you through the process of taking it, and offers consultations for anything else you might need. Your pharmacist helps bring your health home.
Recent job numbers reflect the importance of pharmacists and their assistants. On average pharmacists make over $120,000 annually. Job forecasters expect there to be little drop in the demand for pharmacists, if at all, which makes it a far more stable career than most.
But because pharmacists play such an important role in society, it’s imperative that those looking to enter the field be careful when choosing the school in which they’ll learn their trade. There are a lot of options out there, including several in Florida.
Fortunately, College Gazette is here to help. This list follows the rankings outlined in U.S. News & World Report (in the case of a tie, our editorial team chooses a tiebreaker). We’ve also added more contextual information to give you a full picture of the school’s offerings.
5. Palm Beach Atlantic University Lloyd L. Gregory School Of Pharmacy (West Palm Beach, FL)
For those who want to study pharmacy from a Christian perspective, the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy at Palm Beach Atlantic University is an excellent choice. PBAU Pharmacy empowers students to improve the health of their communities by offering a holistic learning experience that provides hands-on training to supplement its excellent faculty. The program equips students with not only the technical knowledge they’ll need in their careers, but also the necessary soft skills to communicate with patients and to care for all of their needs.
Students at PBAU Pharmacy study in the school’s state-of-the-art tech building, which features smart classrooms and a pharmacy simulations center where students gain hands-on experience with the technology they’ll use later in their careers. Of particular note is the school’s use of simulated patient technology, which provides a life-like model with which students can study and practice, gaining essential medical skills. Graduates of PBAU have brought those skills into their careers at leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies, including Bristol-Meyers Squibb, CVS Health, and others. As this list shows, graduates have the technical knowledge and connections necessary to have a real and positive impact on the field.
But the most impressive element of PBAU’s program is its outreach initiative. Each year, students embark on trips to needy communities worldwide, including the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and areas around West Palm Beach. In these medical mission trips, students raise awareness about wellness to vulnerable populations while gaining experience working with actual patients by performing health screenings.
4. Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy (Davie, FL)
As part of Nova Southeastern University, the College of Pharmacy provides graduate education for pharmaceutical professionals. Since establishing south Florida’s first college of pharmacy, NSU Pharmacy has grown to enroll more students of Hispanic origin than any other such school. NSU Pharmacy achieves this growth thanks to concentrated efforts to reach populations throughout Latin America.
These programs are all part of NSU Pharmacy’s commitment to improving wellness across the world. Not only does the school partner with institutions across Latin America, but it has also instituted a degree program to work with those who graduated from a pharmacy program in another country.
The school features the only program in the U.S. to operate both a full-service community pharmacy and institutional pharmacy. As part of their holistic approach, NSU Pharmacy created the Healing and Medicinal Garden to serve as a repository for living medicinal plants for treating human illness and maintaining health, which teaches students the properties and roles of medicinal plants. All of these elements are in addition to the school’s first-rate faculty and resources.
With such support, NSU Pharmacy students and faculty have engaged in ground-breaking work. In May 2021, one of the school’s instructors joined a project to map the leopard genome to understand the animal’s biological structure.
As this description demonstrates, NSU Pharmacy takes its commitment to being part of a larger community seriously. It takes deliberate steps to advance the science of pharmacy and make positive developments in the lives of others.
3. Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy (Tallahassee, FL)
As part of one of the best universities in the state, it is no surprise that the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Florida A&M University has an excellent program. When the University launched the College in 1995, it was the first accredited public health program in northern Florida. Since then, the school has continued to break records and expand its mission of improving wellness in the state by instituting programs such as its Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences degree.
In that degree program, students learn how to apply critical thinking skills to the pharmaceutical sciences while participating with other members of the scientific community. Students embrace scientific ethics as exemplified by faculty and outlined in NIH Guidelines for Conduct of Research. Toward the end of their degree studies, students gain real-world experience through internships.
Florida A&M Pharmacy also encourages students to take their learning into their own hands by engaging in research. With the support of the college student research program, learners can explore new avenues of approach within the field of pharmacy.
Students can also work with faculty members, who pursue their own impressive research projects, and with the university’s various institutes. For example, the school’s Telehealth Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Prevention Program works to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke and preventable hospitalization through medication therapy management.
With these excellent resources at their disposal, students are poised to become thoughtful and technically proficient pharmacists. They have everything they need to both advance research in the field and serve patients who come into their care.
2. University of South Florida Taneja College of Pharmacy (Tampa, FL)
Founded in 2011, the Taneja College of Pharmacy at the University of South Florida features an innovative curriculum, dedicated research and educational advances, and dynamic leadership, all in pursuit of students’ excellence and growth. USF Pharmacy seeks to revolutionize health through interprofessional education in the fields of geriatrics, personalized medicine, informatics, and leadership.
These elements come together in the college’s Health Pharmacy Plus initiative. Against the “one-size-fits-all” approach that is common to pharmacy programs, Health Pharmacy Plus prioritizes communication between the pharmacist, the patient, and the doctor to treat the whole person. USF Pharmacy views Health Pharmacy Pulse as a national prototype, leading the way toward the level of pharmacy care everyone else will be providing years from now.
This same patient-focused approach drives research programs within USF Pharmacy. One of the school’s most ambitious research programs is WE-CARE (Workgroup Enhancing Community Advocacy and Research Engagement). In collaboration with stakeholders, the team works to improve health outcomes among minority populations within the Tampa Bay area. They will do this by increasing minority enrollment and participation in research and building trust and mutual respect between the community and researchers.
Long-term, the WE-CARE program plans to institute its approach in other major academic institutions, which will build a research network that can work together to synthesize data in a central coordinating center, which will expand health equity across the globe.
Such broad goals emphasize the importance of collaboration and progressive research. Pharmacists trained at USF understand the need to serve the community, and that health goals can only be achieved when professionals work together for the common good.
1. University of Florida College of Pharmacy (Gainesville, FL)
Founded in 1923, the College of Pharmacy at the University of Florida is one of the oldest pharmacy schools in the state. The school has used that time to expand its influence, turning into a school with an excellent faculty, cutting-edge technology, and exceptional partner hospitals. In fact, UF Pharma is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the fifth-best pharmacy school in the United States.
That’s not a designation that the publication throws out lightly, but it’s easy to see how UF Pharmacy earned it. Not only does the school feature a faculty devoted to hands-on training and advancing research goals, but the university supplies the college with the resources they need to lead the field into the next generation.
As part of the J. Hillis Miller Health Science Center at the University of Florida, the college has access to a research endowment worth over $28.3 million. Only two other pharmacy colleges bring in more money. USF Pharmacy uses these funds to advance projects within its five research programs: Center for Drug Evaluation and Safety, Center for Integrative Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease, Center for Natural Products, Drug Discovery and Development, Center for Pharmacogenomics and Precision Medicine, and the Center for Pharmacometrics and Systems Pharmacology.
In addition to these outstanding resources, the college provides first-class teaching, designed to serve diverse student bodies. Over 14,000 students have studied at UF Pharmacy, making it one of the most prominent schools for training pharmacists. To increase that number, the school offers an online doctorate program and eight online master’s programs, serving over 1000 students across the country.