5 answers

What can I do in my undergrad to gain experience in the pharmacy industry and understand if it's something I'd like to pursue?

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I'm currently a biochemistry major possibly on a pre-medical track but genuinely I have very little idea what career I would like to pursue. Being a pharmacist is a job that piques my interest, but I don't know how to gain the experience I need to understand if it's the right industry for me before committing to a pre-pharm track. #pharmacist #medicine #pharmacy #career

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5 answers

Dan’s Answer

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Ask a pharmacist at your local grocery store or CVS or Walgreens or Rite Aid to shadow them. You could even email your local pharm school if you have one for information and shadowing opportunities. The vast majority of healthcare professional will allow you to shadow them as education is built into the system. When you do shadow them, ask them pros AND cons about the job. This way you'll get an overall picture of what you're getting yourself into.
Thank you, Dan! I appreciate your advice. Divya S. Translate
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McKenzie’s Answer

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As the other commenters mentioned, shadowing is a great way to learn about the industry and decide if it's the right place for you. There are a lot of interesting things you can do with a pharmacy degree other than retail pharmacy (which is great as well). Hospital pharmacists have a more fast-paced lifestyle, where as retail is more consistent. Hospital jobs also require 1-2 years of residency post PharmD, where you go through a match process similar to those coming out of medical school. Another career path to explore is working in research and development at a pharmaceutical company. I am not a pharmacy student, but I have interned at a major pharmaceutical company and have met pharmacists doing extremely cool work in R&D. They are truly on the front lines of the drug industry, creating new and better therapies for sick people, and the landscape is constantly changing. If this is something that interests you, I would recommend connecting on LinkedIn with PharmD's at these companies (try searching Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Merck, Novartis, and some of the other big names). Ask if they would be willing to chat with you about their career and a learning opportunity.

Hope this helps!
Thank you! I'll definitely take your advice! Divya S. Translate
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Corynne’s Answer

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I've found that one of the best ways to learn about the pharmacy industry is through networking. First, see if there's any pharmacist you know who can talk to you about their experiences at their current role/previous roles. From there, you can ask if they know anyone in a specific area of pharmacy that you might be interest in (retail pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, pharmaceutical industry, compounding, etc). There are numerous different career paths for pharmacist, so I'd also recommend doing some research online as to the types of settings a pharmacist can work in, to see if one of those might interest you.

Like mentioned above, shadowing experience is always great, if available. If you're looking for a part-time job, consider working as a pharmacy technician (if you are interested in retail or hospital pharmacy). I was also able to get shadowing experience at a pharmaceutical company as well.
Thank you, Corynne! I'll definitely look into following your advice! Divya S. Translate
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Andrea’s Answer

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Hi Divya!

I was also a pre-med with interests in pharmacy! Shadowing is great, however, I took a different route: I started volunteering in a hospital pharmacy, and eventually became a pharmacy technician. As a pharmacy tech, you will be exposed to their entire field, and truly understand what goes into the field (insurance claims, patient care, prescription strengths, and inter-professionalism between physicians, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, etc). If you decide that pharmacy is not for you, then it will still count as a great medically-related experience for medical school! Plus you gain a lot of respect for what pharmacists really do. I added a link for reference on how to become a pharmacy tech if you are interested! Best of luck with everything!!

Andrea recommends the following next steps:

  • https://www.ptcb.org/credentials/certified-pharmacy-technician
Thank you Andrea! That's very helpful! Becoming a pharmacy technician is actually something I've been thinking about, but I wasn't sure how viable of an option it would be for me alongside my current college classes. I'm also not entirely sure about pharmacy as my future, so I didn't know how worthwhile that certification would be if I decide on a different path. How long did it take you to become certified as a pharm tech? Did you decide to continue on to become a PharmD afterwards, or have you followed a different path? Thank you! Divya S. Translate
Of course! :-) And I completely understand where you're coming from. When I became a tech, I did not have to do a training program (I just self-studied) so it's a bit more difficult now. There are online programs that you can do, or you can ask local pharmacies if they would be willing to train you (for example, Kroger, or your equivalent food market, doesn't require a certification right away I believe--but check it out just to make sure). After my experience, I still decided to stick to the medical school pathway, but I love and appreciate the pharmacy field much more! I know several people that became pharmacy techs and decided to go to pharmacy school afterward. Just find what you love the most! Let me know if you have any more questions! :-) Andrea S. Translate
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Daniella’s Answer

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Alike other answers, research, networking, and shadowing other professionals in the industry is vital and the first steps. I would then try and research internships to get real hands on learning and through that figure out if it is right for you. Finding a summer internship early on in college will be really helpful.
Thank you Daniella! Divya S. Translate
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