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Pharmacy Leaders Podcast: Inspiring Pharmacy Leadership Interviews


Jul 11, 2018

Students that had the BS in Pharmacy (who only spent about $2000 a year on tuition back in the day) then had the choice to move on to a Masters or Residency. Now, with an average of $160,000 in debt, we want to be much more careful about our next step. I go through some ways you can get that important differentiating credential without adding to your debt. 

Full transcript:

hey welcome to the pharmacy leaders
podcast I wanted to take a little turn
from the real estate and home buying and
just talk a little bit about something
which also impacts your financial world
and that's degrees after pharmacy school
and what we usually see is somebody
getting a master's degree although
you'll see someone may be going on to a
PhD or MD that's certainly not the
general case generally we see master's
degrees and there are many many master's
degrees out there right now graduate
schools are profit centers for most
colleges and what I mean by that is when
you go to a graduate program it's
completely the opposite of what you
would expect from undergrad so where if
you're going to like Duke University as
an undergrad student you know you'd be
lucky if you get a call back if you you
know send them a note or something like
that but you fill out one of their forms
and I guarantee you will get email and
call and all kinds of things to recruit
you to be in that class so it's very
easy now to to buy your way into a
top-tier school you still have to have
good grades you still have to have some
credentials but if you made it through
pharmacy school I fully expect that you
can do that and so now for around sixty
to eighty thousand dollars it's
relatively easy to get a master's degree
from a top school but what I want to
talk about today are ways that you can
do it for free or certainly at a cost
that's significantly lower than that
I'll talk about three different things
one how I got my master's degree and how
its net free that means that I worked
and I got free tuition for a couple of
years ended up changing majors but it
didn't end up actually costing me
anything out of pocket because I was
being paid during that master's degree
the second one I'll talk about the free
degrees a number of schools have offered
free degrees and I don't know if they're
still on for some of the years but I'll
definitely talk to you about those
and then we'll talk about the top tier
schools and with the mph program because
I it seems like it's either a master's
degree in something and there's many
different ones of those or it's an MBA
or it's an mph so let's start with
interview that I did episode 102 of the
pharmacy leaders podcast where I talked
to Devlin Smith and she graduated from
UT College of Pharmacy she did pgy 1 PG
Y 2 at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in
Houston but with that she got a master's
degree in health systems pharmacy
administration and that's so important
because when you look at rubrics for
hiring a lot of times there's going to
be some kind of requirement that the
person have a graduate degree in
administration or something like that
and I think what this PG y 1 PG y 2
program did is they recognize that
although they've got a high quality PG y
1 PG y 2 a lot of times that rubric
means that checkbox and you need that
checkbox to get a masters so is that
free yeah I mean it would you're getting
paid as a PG y 1 PG y 2 and then you get
the Masters along with it but your the
opportunity cost that maybe you could
have done another job that would have
paid more than the PG y 1 PG y 2 but the
first option really is do you want to
integrate it with some kind of pipe PG y
1 PG y 2 and and I know when we were
looking at residency it was an absolute
must to tie it to college because I knew
the teaching was in my future in some
form or another I didn't know how it
would work but I definitely wanted
teaching as a part of it so Devlin Smith
who graduated from Tennessee very smart
person great job at Kentucky right now
or at the University of Kentucky I
definitely you know would reach out to
her if you've got questions about
administration how did I get mine for
free mine was completely a hot mess what
I did was I I originally you know I got
my PharmD but I had always wanted to be
a writer
I went to Arizona State for writing
Scottsdale Community College I did
journalism I do communications I did
screenwriting I did all kinds of writing
and I knew somewhere in my future I
wanted writing when I got to DMACC I was
allowed to take classes for free and you
know there's a there's I think it's
Occam's razor that says that given all
the opportunities are all the different
options the right option is probably the
simplest one so if I wanted to be a
writer why don't I just get an English
major and what I didn't do was go and
get a graduate English major right away
I said alright well if I'm going to be
an English major then I should pray take
English classes and this is what I
really recommend is that if you're
interested in something go take a
Community College class whether online
or in person
and see if you really like it the idea
of what the Graduate School gives you a
prestigious name cohort of people that
want what you want and all that stuff
that's all well and good and I think
that if you're going in a direction that
you're truly sure about that's the way
to go and I'll talk about that in a
little bit but let's just see for a
semester if you just like the the core
competencies within that and so I just
started taking English classes that I
would have taken if I were to have been
a bachelors English major I took
literature and I was absolutely
petrified that I was gonna like fail my
test because these were all essays there
were no multiple choice at all a
completely different way of thinking
everything was writing and when I found
was so much value in classes like formal
logic where somebody makes a statement
and you're like that doesn't sound right
and then you listen to it and then you
now have the way to say okay well this
is why that wasn't quite right you were
right in saying this but when you said
that that leads to this that wasn't
right and through these undergraduate
classes I eventually said all right well
now I'm just X number of you know
credits away from a bachelor's degree so
I just went up the road
Iowa State and I say up the road it's 25
minutes away when I got a bachelor's
degree in English and immediately I can
hear what you're saying is like what is
the return on investment on a bachelor's
degree in English and those of you that
know me know that I've written books and
things like that and and I certainly
made the money back from the money that
I've invested in that degree but i think
getting that mindset out of your head
like what is the ROI of blank degree
what job can i get rather think okay
what skills can I get and here I'm
saying well I want to be a writer well
if you want to be a writer you have to
write but what you want to read is some
of the best writing that's ever been and
if you're reading stuff that's been
around for 50 100 150 years hundreds of
years and it's still around well that is
something that is really amazing to
begin with but secondly well what was it
that they did and you often find that
wow they they really told a compelling
story while they really hit an emotional
nerve and you started to get an idea of
what it is that will last throughout the
ages and what is just yeah that was nice
I don't remember the name of the title
of whatever that blog post was but and
you understand what it is to write and
to be a writer if that's something you
want to do so I went and said okay well
well what where do I go from here and
I'd been reviewing textbooks so
publisher comes to me says hey you know
you're the instructor in this pharmacy
technician program would you look at
this book and it kind of tell us what
you think and we'll give you a couple
books or we'll give you a reviewer
credit whatever it is so I started
reviewing books and when somebody sent
me a book I went over and above and I
sent like I not only reviewed it but I
was doing a ton of editing work that I
thought you know recommendations that I
would make and nothing really came of it
right away but a year or two later they
came back to me said hey do you want to
write the book that you reviewed the
person doesn't want to do it they're too
busy
do you want to write this book and so it
led to a deal to write a major book for
a major publisher and that all came from
a bachelor's in English but then I said
you know I really would like to you know
see if writing textbooks and
understanding what what makes a good
textbook is something I want to do and I
went in I found that if I go up to Iowa
State there's a program in rhetoric and
professional communication which this is
a fancy way of saying it's a degree that
you basically know how to write really
well and not only write really well but
write in such a way that we're talking
about fonts and sizes the images and
graphics what messages you're sending
what's a good message what's a bad
message what's a compelling message and
you're really getting into it now I
didn't necessarily enjoy the the
research that came with it and many of
the people going through that ph.d
program are going on to be English
professors and ahead of writing programs
and and I took a different turn and I I
just was it just didn't make sense to me
to write a 200 or 250 page work that is
researched that takes up you know so
much of your time and then just put it
on the web as a dissertation that a few
people will read I just really struggle
when I have to write an academic prose I
just really prefer to write in plain
English make things clear for everybody
so when I was in that program I didn't
have any tuition so four semesters no
tuition and I also got paid I want to
say like 20 a year for two years so no
tuition um plus 40 grand and I took a
turn in while I was in there I
discovered this other program called
human-computer interaction and I
remember when I did get my degree
somebody's like is that really a degree
and human-computer interaction is really
cognitive psychology in some ways and
some other things and I wish it was
called cognitive psychology cuz people
would maybe understand that a lot better
you know cognitive psychology and
computers or something like that
but what I put together with this
basically the the English PhD that I
moved to this other master's degree is I
put together a program where I was able
to look at writing and turn it to audio
in such a way that it was now engaging
and when I look at you know the the
writing that I did before and the rank
that I did after in the way that I
presented it I know that I've really
made a tremendous leap so my way of
getting I hate to say for free because I
worked you know I did work like graded
papers and did all of those things
teaching comp one for two years but net
if you look at the net I I didn't come
out of pocket anything everything you
know was paid for with the tuition and
then when I had to pay tuition for
human-computer interaction it was just
you know I want to say a couple of
semesters worth so I probably came out
plus 20 grand on that or something like
that and that's probably foreign to you
if you've only been in a foreign Dee or
like what do you mean you don't pay for
school well you'll often hear that
pharmacy students are graduate students
and they're not they're professional
students and you might say that well
that's just semantics professional
graduate what's the difference well a
professional student pays for their
degree if you're an MD you know
physician to be pharmacist to be nurse
to be whatever it is you pay for it a
graduate student generally has a stipend
in addition to waiving tuition so as as
you teach their students you're given
this kind of pass on the tuition as well
as a little money to live on it's
certainly not much but if you're
comparing it to going and paying
pharmacy school tuition it's a complete
turnaround you know to be making twenty
thousand dollars with no tuition versus
paying you know thirty or forty thousand
which is about what it is right now for
a private school so that's how I got my
master's for free so devlin got hers by
doing residency I got mine by working as
a teaching assistant and then
the next kind of piece are the free MBAs
so I know the University of Arizona
State did this and I don't know if they
still have it but in 2015 they said that
if you are a full-time MBA student then
your tuition is waived and I'm not sure
if they renewed it but I think it cost
like 20 million a year for them to do
that and the reason they did it I think
is that their scores were not good their
MBA program was not well ranked and by
giving it free all of a sudden you get
obviously applications from the best
students in the country who are willing
to move to Tempe which is amazing I just
bought a house there I mean I love Tempe
and they said I'm going there and so now
it's I think the number it's in the top
30 in the country and then one of the
top ten publics in terms of you know
their ranking and they can do that
because I think they have an online
program that you pay for so in many ways
these graduate schools are taking online
students that are working and paying for
it and putting those dollars into
students that are going to be there
full-time now a full-time MBA the
generally the classes and I don't know
if this destroyed errors on the state
are like 9:00 to noon Monday through
Thursday and then I think you're
supposed to do case studies and stuff
like that in the afternoons but I wonder
if as a pharmacist who's working nights
if you could do a full-time MBA while
you're working full time or 32 hours I
think it's probably possible so you
could get your master's degree for free
during the day hopefully you'll be able
to work it out with your fellow students
to make it so that you could do the
projects that you need to but I think
you could probably keep a full-time job
while you're doing that I know that the
University of Florida MBA the Warrington
College of Business is offering 100%
tuition scholarships for those students
admitted during 2018-2019 year so you
can look at that and of course the UF
MBA is also one of the best in the
country oh and in terms of you know
great places to go to school those are
then comes the I MBA from the University
of Illinois and this is through Coursera
now it's 22,000
dollars if you do the imba which is
still completely reasonable for an MBA
but if you go through Coursera and you
click that you just want to audit the
class you can do most of the content and
without having to pay anything
and it's free and what I recommend is
that you take one class and you audit it
and you see if you can stick with it
the number in terms of like Coursera I
think the numbers were around 10% so of
you know these tens of thousands of
people are enrolling in these courses
you would have classes of 50 a hundred
thousand people and only about 10% would
actually finish so my thought is why not
take a class with the imba just take one
class whether it's marketing or whatever
and just see if you like it my thought
really would this was you know I wonder
if if you really committed yourself to
the imba the principles of marketing and
Finance and things like that that they
teach you and then you come you apply
those principles to some business that
you have at home side hustle whatever it
is and then you start making enough
money to actually pay for the degree so
we've gone from just here's a free
degree in some way or another - all
right well we'll give you some free
classes or we'll give you some free
content online I bet if you're a smart
person and entrepreneurial you could
probably use a lot of this content to
make enough money that the imba would be
a net free degree now I don't remember
if this degree is something that it says
imba on the Diploma I'm gonna guess that
it probably doesn't but I would have to
ask them but I know that they have like
800 students in there and it's really
interactive and the other thing is is
that because you're working with
students from other countries you're
working with students that are also
online you really get a community of
people that are like you trying to do
the same thing trying to figure out how
am I going to get this additional
credential this additional skill this
additional experience while I'm working
or while I have uncertain work
conditions so I
that's about twenty-two thousand to get
the MBA and it'll take you two or three
years but I think that that's actually a
much better pace I think we're too quick
to say okay well let me get another
credential instead let me get skills and
networking and contacts that can lead me
to my next step whatever that's gonna be
I remember and I haven't talked to him
about it but I remember that there's an
online Masters of Science in computer
science and I think Dalton Fabian who
was on your financial pharmacist who was
on pharmacy future leaders I think he's
getting one of these degree and I don't
know if it's this exact degree but I
think there's an online master of
science and computer science from
Georgia Tech now I know that most
pharmacists are not thinking computer
science but with informatics and things
like that $7,000 for a degree seems to
be pretty reasonable so again we're kind
of going up the ladder in terms of cost
no let's talk about some premium degrees
that are gonna be super expensive if you
want to go to a top MBA school the
Harvard's the Wharton's those things
those are $70,000 a year for two years
and before you even think about that
stuff I recommend reading the book your
personal MBA it's I think like 15 bucks
20 bucks or the audiobook you know you
can probably get it for free if you've
never been on Amazon but read that book
before you even think about an MBA that
you have to pay for more than twenty
thousand dollars for I would say because
what that book says in the very
beginning basically is that the ROI
return on investment on that degree
depending on where you go depending on
increase in salary from where you are is
negative and I'll let him explain it to
you it's in the first couple chapters
but I definitely definitely definitely
think that you would want to look at
that before you even think about
spending more than twenty thousand
dollars on an MBA all right well let's
get to the mph which I keep seeing over
and over again some very smart people
getting their mph is and
kind of talked about which ones are the
top ones and and how you can kind of
think about strategizing which one you
want to get so the first thing is is
that what is an MPA so a Master of
Public Health and I think I've heard
that this is like the MBA not for
business people but for nonprofits and I
don't know if that's necessarily true I
don't know enough about it I know that
Brian Fung is in an MBA program and I'll
talk a little bit about this program
from my completely ignorant perspective
of you know the Hopkins program but if
you look at us nu is the one that Brian
Fung is in is the number one program in
the country so it's Hopkins Harvard
Carolina are tied for second then
Michigan is third so that Johns Hopkins
degree and I don't know exactly how the
scholarships work it's bit muddled when
you look at it but I think if you're
paying sticker for the degree I want to
say it's 70 grand all-in like they just
they don't say like it's this much per
semester or something like that they
just say it's seventy thousand two
hundred forty-four 80 80 credits and I
don't know if that goes up and it says
this weird thing like includes funding
from wealth through wealth scholarship
so I don't know if that seventy thousand
dollars is less or not but the online
part-time format is that much now you
are probably saying look I don't need to
drop another 70 grand after I just
dropped what I did on pharmacy school if
you want to compare Hopkins grad school
tuition so that's 80 credits I'm gonna
guess that's two years I don't know but
let's say that's 35,000 a year undergrad
at Hopkins is 50 a year for four years
so it's one hundred and thirty thousand
dollars less to get the graduate degree
so if you're looking for a prestigious
you know alma mater that's the way to do
it is to do what Brian Fung is doing
saying all right well gosh you know I've
got a job now that I can pay for this
premium degree I'm now qualified and I
know what I can I know so much about
healthcare I can apply what they're
going to teach me in healthcare and I
think that that's a phenomenal fit that
he has but just know that
you know your your when you're getting
up to the top tiers like Hopkins expect
to pay you know those kinds of rates
sort of so that's an expensive private
but when you go to the public's so and I
can't tell because like when I go to the
University of North Carolina which is
ranked number two in the country and I
pushed tuition and fees you don't
actually get to ition and fees you get
this kind of ad like hey it's affordable
hey Kiplinger's says it's the best value
hey it's committed to you but where the
actual tuition and fees and you have to
click on the UNC office of scholarships
and student aid and I can't believe that
it's that simple but it says that if you
are in state it's twelve thousand
dollars and if you are out of state it's
twenty nine thousand dollars a year
I just don't know and I don't even know
if that's per year because it doesn't
say it looks like it's prettier but is
that per semester per year I don't know
it's just not on there it's quite
confusing but anyway obviously if you're
in North Carolina and you can go to UNC
if your mph that would really make a lot
of sense and I don't know if that's one
of those online programs and so forth
because the online programs tend to be a
bit more expensive the last one I wanted
to talk about is Michigan so Michigan is
same thing it's fourteen grand in stay
23 grand out-of-state for a full time
which is nine credits in grad school I
don't know if that's per term or if
that's per year
they don't make it clear or maybe I'm
just too dumb to figure it out but what
I wanted to tell you is that it looks
like Coursera is setting up with
Michigan to have a master of public
health and I have here that the master
of public health degree is expected to
launch in 2019 subject to approval by
the University of Michigan generally
Coursera has an option where you can do
part of it for free and kind of test the
waters or whatever so I'm just wondering
if this Michigan degree is going to have
that audit ability just like you can
with the
Illinois but anyway I mean to get an mph
from the number three in the country for
free or to get even some classes for
free that would be amazing anyway but
you know what kind of take us home you
know I'm right around the 25-minute mark
right now as you're looking towards a
graduate degree and what I was really
looking for when I was looking for a
graduate degree was I was looking for
community I wanted people that were like
me and there are just not a lot of
people that are into writing and that
are into writing books and I found that
community at Iowa State now that I
didn't fit in to the end point where I
was would be doing a huge research you
know thesis and that I would be you know
teaching that was a bit disappointing
that I I you know it was all on me that
I just didn't I just didn't fit in and I
had to be honest with myself and say you
know I I want to write text books I want
to write in plain prose I don't want to
you know do research and submit the
publication's and and go down the tenure
track I just want to write books and I
just want to help people do do better in
their classes and so I wasn't
necessarily good fit for that but I was
a good fit to finish the completely
online master of human-computer
interaction and I I'm really I mean I do
have 18 credits within that degree in
English I'm a little disappointed that I
never got an English degree or an
English master's degree out of it
I mean it's in there I had the skills
and I have the knowledge but that's the
kind of mistake I want to keep talking
to you about which is it's not the
credential that you get it's the skills
that you've gotten from the people that
you've worked with and if you have a PhD
at an Iowa State that's in you know
rhetoric and the human-computer
interaction rhetoric and professional
communication you're working with some
of the top people in the country you're
in classes of just gosh it was like 8 to
15 people
it was amazing I just really loved it
and it was disappointing that I didn't I
wouldn't be able to get that PhD or I
wouldn't maybe I could have gotten the
masters but it just I just what I was
doing and writing textbooks and writing
my own you know publications that just
didn't work out that way but I found
some great professors over in one in vet
med and one in cognitive psychology that
were willing to help me out get me you
know through the online program in
human-computer interaction and and ended
up being great because you know the the
core of memorizing pharmacology which is
the kind of Keystone book that launched
everything you have to know enough about
cognitive psychology pair it with
pharmacology and pair it with the needs
of entry-level students that are you
know sophomores juniors P ones B twos
that are taking that kind of step past
the top 200 and trying to apply it to
clinical practice so anyway I hope this
was helpful I know many of you are
looking at graduate degrees and you're
saying gosh should I be spending more
money I know that your financial
pharmacists team is working really hard
to make sure that people don't get
themselves further in debt and trying to
get down there and my recommendation to
you is to take one class take one class
and something that you're interested in
and see if you're interested in taking a
second class don't commit to an entire
two years don't commit to an entire
program until you've kind of gotten
through the phase of yeah this is really
what I want to do and these are the
people that I want to be with and I
think the second part is more important
than the first these are the people I
want to be with and I think in some ways
it's a nostalgia thing you kind of want
to go back to pharmacy school where you
were all working together in the same
you were all working towards the same
goal and and while during pharmacy
school that might have been hard you
after you're done you kind of go back
and gasp you know that that was kind of
a cool time and maybe you want to go
back to it alright well next time I'll
probably talk about townhouses and
houses and and making good financial
decisions there but I hope this was
helpful