JOHNSON CITY (August 18, 2022) – Olivia Long knew when she was in eighth grade that she wanted to be a pharmacist. She later found a way to get a jump on that career through the Early Admission Pathway at the East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy.
Through this arrangement, the Mount Juliet native is concurrently working toward her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy studies and her Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. The idea of pharmacy was first suggested to Long by her mother, who is a nurse, and she followed up by investigating the career in her high school classes and attending a summer camp at Gatton College of Pharmacy two years ago.
“Since I knew that I wanted to do pharmacy for such a long time, it was really nice to be able to go into the career earlier. It saved me a lot of time and money in the long run, and I’ll be able to start doing what I really am passionate about earlier,” she said.
The college’s Early Admission Pathway was implemented three years ago to provide a direct route to pharmacy school for individuals just like Long. It allows high school students who know they want to become pharmacists to apply as high school students for admission to Gatton College of Pharmacy. The Early Admission Pathway is also open to first-year freshmen at ETSU who wish to go ahead and secure a spot at Gatton College of Pharmacy.
“The ultimate benefit for the students is that it allows them to go ahead and secure a spot and get into Gatton College of Pharmacy, so they don’t have that anxiety of ‘Can I make the cut?’ ‘Will I be good enough?’ It removes that so they can actually focus on school,” said Steve Ellis, assistant dean of Student Affairs for Gatton. “It also provides an opportunity to work with us while they’re freshmen and sophomores, to prepare and develop more experience for when they actually enter the pharmacy school.”
Gatton is one of only a few pharmacy schools that currently offer early admission programs, which, Ellis said, gives ETSU’s pharmacy school an advantage in the recruiting process.
“It allows us to build a pipeline and to have some sense of the students that are going to be coming along in a couple of years,” he said. “But I also think one of the great benefits for us as a school is that it allows us to get to know these students and help prepare them for pharmacy school when they arrive in a couple of years, post-high school. From that perspective, it becomes a win-win. The student benefits because they’re interacting with the college, but likewise, we benefit because it gives us a chance to know the students and help them prepare.”
The Early Admission Pathway also gives the college a greater chance to attract students from across the state of Tennessee.
“Students are looking at us from across the state and, indeed, from across the country,” Ellis said. “With the Early Admission Pathway, because we are part of East Tennessee State University, it really does give us a chance to attract students from the middle part of the state, from the western part of the state. They can look at ETSU for undergraduate and also get in the College of Pharmacy for their pharmacy experience.
“In some respects, it’s a ‘one-stop shop’ for the students who choose to come here. We have a nice recruiting package. This program is obviously still new, but our first few enrollees have come from other parts of the state.”
In addition to the Early Admission Pathway, Gatton College of Pharmacy offers the traditional route to pharmacy school, through which undergraduates may apply a year in advance of their desired starting date.
The college also offers a 3+1 program in which students majoring in biological sciences, chemistry or health sciences may spend three years working toward their undergraduate degrees and transfer into the College of Pharmacy, completing their undergraduate degrees while beginning work toward the Pharm.D.
Gatton College of Pharmacy also offers dual degree programs: a Master of Business Administration through ETSU’s College of Business and Technology and a Master of Public Health through the College of Public Health.
For Long, ETSU’s pharmacy program is a great fit. “I actually only did one year of undergraduate,” she said. “And I’m around others who have similar interests to me. It’s been very beneficial in that way.
Admission for the college’s Early Admission Pathway opens on Aug. 31. Learn more at etsu.edu/RxEarlyAdmit.
The admissions process for Gatton College of Pharmacy’s Class of 2027 is currently open. Priority Applicants can apply by Nov. 1 to earn up to $10,000 in scholarships. Learn more about the college, scholarships and application at etsu.edu/pharmacy, or contact the college at email@example.com or (423) 439-6320.
ETSU Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy was founded in 2005 by the community with a mission to develop progressive, team-oriented pharmacists who improve health care, focusing on rural and underserved communities. The college has earned numerous national awards and accolades for service, scholastic achievement and clinical training.