PharmD Technical Standards

UB SPPS PharmD Program Personal Attributes and Capabilities Essential for Admission, Progression and Graduation

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Earning a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from The State University of New York at Buffalo (UB) School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SPPS) requires mastery of a coherent body of knowledge and skills. A pharmacy student must acquire substantial competence in the necessary knowledge and application of that knowledge in their professional practice and must be able to relate appropriately to patients, health care professionals, and to other ancillary personnel. Combinations of cognitive, affective, psychomotor, physical, and social abilities are required to perform these functions satisfactorily. These skills and functions are not only essential to the successful completion of the PharmD degree requirements, but they are also necessary to ensure the health and safety of patients, fellow students, faculty, and other health care providers.  A primary mission of SPPS is to prepare outstanding pharmacists to meet health care needs and to enhance the delivery of essential pharmacy services. The faculty of SPPS strive to deliver an education that will inspire the PharmD students to attain the highest levels of this goal.

In addition to required academic achievement and proficiency, the following technical standards describe non-academic qualifications the School considers essential for successful completion of the educational objectives of its curriculum. Therefore, an offer of admission to SPPS is contingent upon an applicant’s potential to satisfy the required non-academic skills described in this document.  Applicants for admission must demonstrate the ability to perform or ability to learn to perform the non-academic skills described herein.  For admitted pharmacy students to successfully progress, and to be approved for graduation, students must satisfactorily perform the non-academic skills during the course of their pharmacy education. The School will make efforts to work with admitted pharmacy students who are identified as demonstrating technical skill deficiencies. Pharmacy students who are unable to demonstrate satisfactory technical skills by the end of their P3 year may be dismissed from the PharmD program.

Students who seek reasonable accommodations for a disability, medical condition, or temporary injury/condition must contact UB’s Office of Accessibility Resources. The Office will determine a student’s eligibility for and recommend appropriate accommodations and services.  Reasonable accommodation means services provided to individuals with disabilities, medical conditions or temporary injury/condition that remove or lessen the effect of disability-related barriers. Some individuals with disabilities may need reasonable accommodations to meet the School’s Technical Standards, while others may not.

SPPS accepts transfer students enrolled in 2 or 4 year accredited institutions, graduates with bachelor's or post-baccalaureate degrees, former and current UB students, US and non-US citizens, and permanent residents. UB does not have a policy that limits or favors current UB students, transfer or out-of-state applicants. All applicants are considered equally. UB SPPS is committed to a nondiscriminatory admission policy and philosophy. In accordance with federal and state laws, no person, in whatever relationship with the University at Buffalo, shall be subject to discrimination on the basis of age, religion or creed, color, disability, national origin, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital, or veteran status. The University at Buffalo’s Non-Discrimination Statement can be found here


The professional program leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy degree and eligibility for pharmacist licensure requires a certain level of cognitive, behavioral and technical skill and ability inherent in a professional education. These principles and standards hold for admission, progression, retention and completion of the program.

The primary role of the pharmacist is to provide safe and effective health care to the patients served. Patient safety must be considered in the selection and education of pharmacy students. As such, UB SPPS has a responsibility to maintain as safe an environment as possible for its students and the practice settings in which they receive education. Pharmacy students must reasonably contribute to a safe environment through their personal physical and mental health and social behavior. Pharmacy students must complete the academic program in a reasonable length of time (we do not permit part time enrollment); must be able to acquire a pharmacist intern license after their first year in the UB SPPS and maintain the pharmacist intern license during their educational program; and, must be eligible for a pharmacist license after they complete the Doctor of Pharmacy program.

All pharmacy students are expected to successfully fulfill the same core educational requirements. Reasonable education-related accommodations will be provided, where possible and within the UB guidelines. Students need to possess the skills and abilities, with or without accommodations that will allow successful fulfillment of the requirements necessary to complete the program. Pharmacy students who graduate from the program are eligible to become pharmacists without restrictions on their practice; therefore, the curriculum requires pharmacy students to successfully complete all core components of the program and does not allow students to take part in a limited set of required activities.


Observation Skills

Observation necessitates the functional use of vision to read, see and participate in lectures, demonstrations, experiments and practice-based activities.

Candidates for admission must be able to demonstrate strong observational skills with the capability to master practice-based activities, both physical and mental, expected of admitted pharmacy students.

Matriculated pharmacy students must be able to conduct practice-based activities that include, but are not limited to, reading and writing patient data and prescription orders using paper or computer/technology-based media; evaluating a patient’s physical condition including signs and symptoms of disease states and drug actions; accessing and reading hard copy and technology-based medical literature; interpreting clinical parameters for the purpose of assessing a patient and monitoring drug therapy; and conducting and reading results of tests using a variety of point-of-care instruments.  A pharmacy student must be able to accurately and effectively:

  • distinguish various medication dosage forms and strengths and accurately select the correct drug product using either the packaging or the actual, physical drug entity
  • observe and assess the technical quality of manufactured or compounded medications
  • note and accurately interpret signs and symptoms present on a patient’s body
  • discern very fine incremental gradations, e.g., those associated with equipment used for compounding and/or administering of intravenous medication
  • read and process written information in written and digital formats

Communication Skills

Communication includes speaking, listening, hearing, reading, writing and computer literacy (appropriate to the profession of pharmacy) with high fluency in the English language.

Candidates for Admission must demonstrate strong written and oral English communication skills and must be able to effectively communicate with others in noisy and complex environments.  The School reserves the right to require an applicant to have his/her oral English proficiency assessed by ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages), at the applicant’s expense.  The minimum level of oral proficiency in English required is “Advanced Low,” per the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Guidelines for Speaking.  Oral proficiency levels are assessed by participating in a telephone based Oral Proficiency Interview (approximately 30 minutes) conducted by an ACTFL-certified language assessor or an internet based Oral Proficiency Interview by Computer.  The ACTFL assessor may be designated by the School, at the School’s discretion.

Matriculated pharmacy students must be able to accurately, effectively and sensitively communicate with instructors, patients, caregivers and other health care practitioners.  These skills also include, but are not limited to, perception of nonverbal cues and eliciting pertinent information regarding patient symptoms, needs, mood, activity, and drug responses.  A student must be able to accurately and effectively (in academic and simulated situations with instructors and actual patient care situations):·         converse and communicate effectively with health care providers and patients of diverse backgrounds and cultures

  • communicate with other health care professionals regarding all aspects of safe and effective patient care, including but not limited to reviewing and recommending verbal and written drug therapy orders
  • speak in formal and informal presentation settings before large and small groups in a clear, articulate and confident manner  
  • interpret verbal and  non-verbal communication cues displayed by a patient, caregiver or health professional colleague
  • communicate in multiple formats including face-to-face, electronic, written or through verbal means, e.g., telephone, email
  • communicate in writing using descriptive narrative, analytical interpretation, hypothesis generation and speculation
  • interpret and deliver complex or technical information in an understandable manner to individuals who have physical, cognitive, language or other barriers or do not have a background in or knowledge of pharmacy or the health sciences
  • elicit a medical and medication history, including, but not limited to, being able to clarify and condense the patient’s primary problems, and interpret the information obtained to engage/consult appropriately with the patient and develop an accurate patient care plan
  • reconcile provider and patient medication lists
  • read and document medical and, more specifically, drug therapy consultations and pharmacist interventions, in a professionally-written format that meets commonly accepted standards for exchange of information among health care professionals, e.g., SOAP note
  • possess awareness of his/her own, as well as others’, demeanor and nonverbal communication and be able to adjust his/her own behaviors as dictated by the situation. The ability to communicate effectively, in person and by telephone, and in writing with patients, physicians, nurses and other health profession personnel, as well as lay individuals, often under circumstances where the availability for communication is limited.
  • engage in conversations with patients, care givers and other health care professionals in noisy and complex environments

Attitudinal, Behavioral, Interpersonal and Emotional Attributes

Candidates for Admission must be able to demonstrate compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, collegiality, interest, and motivation.  In preparation for the rigors of a pharmacy education and practice of the profession of pharmacy, candidates must be able to interact with patients, colleagues and others in a professional manner, be able to appropriately manage conflicts and disagreements

Matriculated pharmacy students must possess the capacity required for full utilization of his/her intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all pharmacy responsibilities involved in patient care. Students must have the capacity for the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients and their family members, staff, and colleagues. Students must be able to work effectively as a member of a health-care team,   including adapting to changing environments. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, collegiality, interest, and motivation are necessary personal qualities.  

Intellectual, Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

Candidates for Admission must be able to demonstrate intellectual, conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities, as evidenced by academic performance in prerequisite courses.  Letters of recommendation, co- and extra-curricular activities may also support the candidate’s abilities.

Consistent with the level of education within the pharmacy program, matriculated pharmacy students  must demonstrate a fundamental and continuing ability to use analytical reasoning to independently and in collaboration with a health care team synthesize knowledge, solve problems and explain health care situations. Information must be obtained, retrieved, evaluated and delivered in an efficient and timely manner. Pharmacy students must be able to demonstrate good judgment in patient care and assessment and have the ability to incorporate new and changing information obtained from the practice environment.

Tactile, Motor Coordination and Sensory Ability Competencies

Candidates for Admission must have sufficient motor function to be able to conduct basic laboratory experiments, pharmaceutical preparation compounding activities and physical assessment techniques.  A candidate must have the ability to safely and effectively operate various types of laboratory and patient care equipment, such as prescription weights and balances, a glucose meter, stethoscope, pulmonary devices, and sphygmomanometer. Sufficient motor function, tactile ability and sensory abilities are required to attend and participate effectively in all classroom, laboratories, conferences, clinical settings, and activities that are part of the curriculum.

Matriculated pharmacy students must possess sufficient motor function, tactile ability and sensory abilities as required, for effective participation in all classroom, laboratories, conferences, clinical settings, and activities.  Pharmacy students must be able to perform some physical assessment of their patients (e.g., measurement of blood pressure using a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff, perform fingersticks for blood glucose monitoring or measurement of lipids for cholesterol screening, and subcutaneous injection, intramuscular injection or intranasal administration for the purposes of administering immunizations).  Pharmacy students must be able to use fine motor skills to perform the functions necessary to compound sterile preparations in a laminar airflow hood using aseptic technique and compound non-sterile medications. 

A student must have sufficient motor function to perform basic tasks involved in the training for and practice of pharmacy, including, but not limited to, executing all aspects of processing drug orders such as operating a keyboard, dispensing all types of dosage forms and safe and aseptic handling and accurate dosing of sterile preparations.  A student must be able to accurately and effectively:

  • demonstrate appropriate use and operate equipment, including, but not limited to, peak flow meters, other pulmonary devices, glucose monitors and other point-of-care testing systems
  • use diagnostic equipment for basic patient assessment activities, including, but not limited to, stethoscope and sphygmomanometer
  • document information in a legible form in any required setting, e.g., paper medical record
  • use computer-based systems to retrieve and enter patient and non-patient specific health care-related data
  • use fine motor skills, e.g., to handle various small dosage forms, formulate and compound sterile products, manipulate a needle and syringe, prepare and administer parenteral drugs, including, but not limited to, immunizations
  • use gross motor skills, e.g., to perform patient assessment techniques, including, but not limited to, palpation, auscultation, percussion, foot examination;  provide emergency treatment to patients such as, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid
  • use of motor and sensory skills to manipulate equipment required for compounding of pharmaceutical dosage forms such as capsules, ointments, intravenous preparations, liquids, ointments and intravenous preparations as well as other products as required by the curriculum. Students will need to be able to work with items such as prescription balances, both torsion and/or electric, mortar and pestles, syringes and needles
  • use of motor and cognitive skills to employ computer hardware and software programs
  • use of motor and sensory skills such as palpation, auscultation and other diagnostic maneuvers in order to perform elements of physical examination such as taking blood pressures
  • use of motor and sensory skills to read and interpret patient profiles/charts (patient records of disease state, treatments) and discernment of color dosage forms as a check of identity

Approved by UB SPPS 3/2015

*Sections of the Standards are adapted from Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Colorado