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Pharmacy and Pharmacy School Admissions

Discussion in 'Pre-Pharmacy' started by RxPharmD, 05.18.07.


  1. Thanks to Crack the PCAT
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  1. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hello,
    I have been a recruiter and pre-pharmacy advisor for 7 years now. I have done this at two different schools, one in the east and one on the west coast, so I have a unique perspective.

    I will do my best to answer your questions about the admissions process, interviewing, the PCAT, etc.

    Ask away!

    Questions for Members of Admissions Committees
    1. What is the one thing you wish students planning to enter (medicine, pharmacy, dentistry) knew?
    That while pharmacy school IS challenging, if you succeed in entering a program, you will find a family of supporters in your classmates, your professors, and the staff at the college. So many students enter thinking they will mostly be on their own and the opposite is true.
    There are opportunities to be involved in the community and the pharmacy profession. The faculty and staff do everything they can to help you succeed and students genuinely become friends and family to each other.

    2. What are the three top characteristics you like to see in an applicant?
    -Knowledge of the pharmacy profession
    -Evidence of past academic success
    -Good People Skills
  2. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    I'm a pharmacy student and I am available to answer your questions about the application process and being in pharmacy school.

    1. Why did you choose your field of study?
    I find the mechanisms and uses of pharmaceuticals to be fascinating. It's amazing how much these products can improve the quality of life for so many individuals. I also enjoy the flexibility and diversity of practice opportunities in pharmacy, as well as the comfortable salary.
    2. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    Working in more than one practice site perhaps. I'd like to do a hospital clinical practice along with academic work, teaching in college of pharmacy. I'd probably moonlight a bit in community pharmacy as well.
    3. What advice do you have for students planning to enter the field of pharmacy?
    Number one: research the field. Know what you are getting into. Shadow, talk to practitioners and do your homework. Pharmacy is great but it is not for everyone (just like any career).
    Number two: do well in your basic science pre-requisite courses, especially chemistry, organic chemistry, anatomy/physiology and microbiology. If you can find time to work in an upper level physiology class or biochemistry, it will be well worth your time. I wish that I had. Good luck!
    Number three: hone your written and verbal communication skills. Pharmacy is NOT all science. I'd go so far as to say that's it's not even primarily science. Don't get me wrong; you will have to learn a lot of scientific concepts. But pharmacy practice is all about understanding and integrating information and being able to transmit that information to others (physicians, co-workers, patients, etc.) You need to be able to communicate well.
  3. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    I'm afraid that this is one of those questions that really has no answer. There is going to be a tremendous amount of variation from school to school in terms of how many students actually pay their deposit and hold their spot vs. how many end up giving up their spot. I wish I could be more specific but I can't. Good luck!

    PS: you might want to check with the school in question.
  4. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    Getting some experience in pharmacy would only help you in the admissions process, in my opinion. There are a couple of ways to do this:

    1. Get some diverse shadowing experience in several different areas of pharmacy. There is more out there than just community and hospital. This will show that you understand the breadth and diversity of the field.

    2. Consider working as a technician in any setting. Community is probably the easiest to get hired for without any experience. I had luck going through the district manager of a large chain (the person in charge of recruiting pharmacists). Even if you find you don't like the particular pharmacy setting you choose to work in first you will still get some valuable experience. Someone told me once: Just because you don't like Walgreens (or Target or Osco or CVS) doesn't mean you won't like pharmacy.


    I think if you can demonstrate your knowledge of and commitment to the profession, you can overcome some minor deficiencies in GPA and/or a lower PCAT score. Good luck!
  5. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    I don't know if there is a specific answer for your question. It's going to vary by school. Some schools value pharmacy experience highly. There are schools that require it! There are also schools where it is just considered a "plus" on your application. It won't hurt you at any school.

    I think the research experience is also helpful because it shows exposure to research methods and involvement outside the classroom.

    Evidence of leadership experience and involvement in community service are good too.

    Good luck!
  6. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hello,
    First, PCAT score averages vary from school to school. With a 3.5 GPA, 80th composite PCAT score should be competitive at most schools. As long as you are up front about the misdemeanor charge, it should not hurt you. You mentioned being lost about what you want to do. Make sure that you talk to pharmacists and if possible, shadow some pharmacists, to make sure that this is a path you would want to pursue.

  7. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hi, most pharmacy schools are going to look for a real desire for pharmacy as a career and some knowledge of the profession. Most are going to want to know why you want to be a pharmacist and what you are planning to do with the degree. To answer those questions, it is helpful to have some firsthand experience but I dont' know of any schools that require a minimum number of hours. I think the shadowing may actually be more useful since it will give you a more broad exposure to the profession.

    I would recommend keeping your community/volunteer experience to one or two activities that you commit to in depth. Most schools will look for leadership skill development and you can best achieve that with something you have done over time and not just for a day or a week.
    Good luck!
  8. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    If the schools that you are applying to do not require two semesters of physics, then it would not be necessary to take Physics II and Lab. Some schools do require that second semester of Physics and if you have any thought at all of applying to such a school, then I would take it.
  9. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hello,
    I think that most schools are interested in diversity at all levels, including recruiting qualified students, faculty and staff. At most pharmacy schools there is an interest in recruiting students who are underrepresented in the profession including African American and Latino students as well as students from rural areas. Not sure if that answers your question but that is what I know!
  10. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hello,
    I would not worry about retaking one or two courses to try to improve your grades. I would hope that you are doing this to improve your knowledge and that is how I would present it if you are asked in an interview. Most schools will not have a problem with retakes of one or two courses. It doesn't sound like it is a pattern with you and therefore, shouldn't be an issue. Good luck with it!
  11. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hello,
    I can only answer this question from my experience with one school. It is a CONCURRENT degree which means you finish the PharmD first and then begin the PhD. Each degree takes 4 years and that is accurate. You apply to the PharmD first and apply to the PhD program later through the Graduate School. The GRE is necessary. Good luck.
  12. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hello,
    You do need to learn as much as possible about the profession since that is the field you intend on entering. As much for you as for any admissions committee, you need to learn what pharmacists do and how they do it. I would recommend that you continue to try to volunteer (hospitals are best for this) and if you can not do that, try to research as much as you can about what is happening now in the field. If you can not get any firsthand experience, at least you should be able to articulate why you want pharmacy and what aspect of pharmacy you could see yourself pursuing!
  13. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    The answer to this question will vary from school to school. Some schools say it is ok to take any or all classes at a community college while others will say you MUST take certain prereqs at a four-year school. Those schools who require the PCAT often see it as the equalizer to determine how well prepared a student is. So, if you have a very high GPA at a community college, the expectation would be a commensurate PCAT score. Check with the schools you intend to apply to. Only they can tell you how they will view your classes. Good luck!
  14. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator Staff Member Administrator SDN Senior Moderator Lifetime Donor Partner Organization

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    These types of questions need to be asked publicly on the mentor forum.
    Our mentors are not available for one-on-one consultation.
  15. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    Schools are not known to accept a lot of students who have GPAs < 3.0 but don't give up yet. Is it possible to retake some of the courses you scored poorly in, to boost your GPA? Schools will still see your old grades as you must report them to PharmCAS but it will help if the schools can also see your improvement.

    Your work at the PBM is good. You might want to do some shadowing to increase your exposure to the profession. It would be good to cultivate some pharmacists as mentors. You'll also need good letters of reference from people who really know you and can speak to your qualifications.

    If you are applying to schools that require the PCAT, doing well on that may balance your low GPA somewhat.
  16. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    I am also a career changer who is a bit older than most pharmacy school applicants. You will need to show that you've researched the profession and be able to describe why pharmacy is right for you. Shadowing pharmacists in a variety of job roles would be a good start. Make notes for yourself at each place you visit. You could even start a journal focusing on the things you liked and didn't like about each type of pharmacy practice. Write down any questions you have for follow up. When you begin to interview at pharmacy schools, you will have this journal to reference for things to mention in your interviews.

    As far as pre-reqs go, I like to be systematic. I'd make an Excel spreadsheet with possible pre-req courses listed in the left-hand column and the schools you are interested in listed across the top. If "College A" requires A & P, check it off, and so on. The courses that the majority of your prospective schools require are a good place to start your prepharmacy coursework. I think all schools probably require General Chemistry.

    Good luck!
  17. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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  18. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    I think AdComs understand that students who are working full time will necessarily have to take lighter course loads during the prepharmacy years. I worked full-time during prepharmacy and no one ever questioned my course load. The most important thing, by far is to do well in your prereq classes.
  19. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    At my interview we did not have time to provide extremely long, detailed answers. Just be honest, sincere and make sure you have thought about the possible questions. Take a deep breath before you answer to collect your thoughts. And relax!
  20. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    I would not lie about anything on my application. Especially if it is the same school. You are likely to be discovered and it's wrong.

    The science GPA is low. You might consider retaking some courses to boost it. See below. Good luck on the PCAT!

    You're welcome! :)

    Your overall science GPA is low. You might consider this as an option, especially since you've not had success gaining admission to this point.
  21. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    Your answer should be honest, sincere and reflect that you've thought about the issue. Take a deep breath before you answer to collect your thoughts. Relax!

    Now, on this specific issue - we've discussed this in pharmacy school. Here's my insight:

    1. You can't MAKE a patient take their medication. Adults are responsible for their own health and have to decide for themselves to participate or not in treatment.
    2. You can only explain the benefits of the therapy and the risks of noncompliance. For example:

    Manual Pick, I know this antibiotic is very expensive and you feel you can't afford to pay for it. However, you have a serious infection and this antibiotic is the best medication available to get rid of it. You should start to feel better in a few days after you start the medication. I'm afraid that if you don't take this medication your infection may get worse and you might miss more work or school and possibly even have to go to the hospital for treatment.

    If you don't have experience with something in your life, just be honest about that. You can try to think through a possible answer. Here's an example:

    Q: Your pharmacy dispenses the wrong medication to a child and the child ends up in the hospital. What would say to the child's parent?

    A: Although I don't have children of my own, I can only imagine how worried and angry the parents would feel in that situation. I would apologize for the error and make sure that the parents know that I am available to answer their questions and that all my pharmacy staff will be made aware of the error and we will take steps to prevent such errors from occuring in the future.

    Just be honest, sincere and relaxed. Think before you speak. If you don't know something just say, "I honestly don't know."

    Check out SDN's Pharmacy School Interview Feedback to get ideas of questions that have been asked at actual interviews.
  22. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    What do you think this professor would say about you? Will his or her letter help your application? Only you and the professor can say for sure. You could approach the professor (set up a meeting) to discuss the issue and see if they think they could give you a good recommendation. That's how I'd handle it.

    It's all how you phrase it. I wouldn't be so blunt as to say, "I want to go to school here because it is cheaper." Rather I'd say something like, "The location of this school appeals to me. I have family in the area and will have a built in support system. Plus, living at home will allow me to avoid relocation costs and minimize my expenses and thus, keep my educational debt low."
  23. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hi,
    You are going to need to come up with an answer to the question: "Why do you want to be a pharmacist?" It's ok to say that you think the profession fits you but you have to be able to articulate WHY. You need to tell the interviewers what aspects of the profession appeal to you specifically and provide examples. I would also recommend that you include what area of the profession that you think you might enjoy. You have some experience so that may help you formulate your answers. It is really important to practice giving those responses also.

    I would take the advice you have been given and take a class in public speaking or small group communication and a composition class. Good luck.
  24. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hi,
    If you know now that you are going to delete one of your PharmCAS references, then I would not include that person in your reference list in the first place. It might not be possible to add them and then delete them later, especially if you choose the electronic reference method. PharmCAS will send your reference the reference form via email and once they have submitted, it may not be possible to delete that reference. (check the PharmCAS web page for the exact ruling on this.)

    PharmCAS will not hold up your application waiting for your references to arrive. Some schools may consider your application regardless of whether all the reference have arrived (those who use rolling admissions) and some may not. You will need to check with individual schools.
  25. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    It sounds like you don't have much choice! If you won't be finished with everything you need for other schools and won't be prepared for the PCAT, then applying to Creighton is your best option for this year. If you are not admitted there this year, then, you can widen your net. I am not familiar with Creighton's averages so I can't say what type of applicant you would be for them. Since you are on campus, you should be able to talk with an admissions person or advisor to assess your competitiveness.
    Good luck with it.
  26. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    I think you are probably getting ahead of yourself. Ideally, you have done some research on the schools you are applying to and are applying to those where you would be a good fit...both academically and personally. I would put all your energy into the application process and preparing for potential interviews and worry about not getting admitted when that happens!
  27. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    Do you have a pre-pharmacy advisor at your school? I think they could help you figure out some of these issues. How much you need to study for the PCAT depends on where you are in your studies and how well you've done in your core classes. Starting early is always good.

    How much math have you had? What types of grades have you earned in your math classes? Could you get a review book and study the calculus stuff on your own?
  28. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    How much elaboration is needed?

    I'd write something like, "I've been working as a pharmacy technician in a community pharmacy. This has given me first hand insight into the profession and solidified my desire to become a pharmacist."
  29. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    1. Look up the Adventist Church. Get an idea of its general principles.
    Adventist Church

    2. Find something you admire about their beliefs and be ready to discuss it. It could be anything. I'm not overly familiar with Adventism so I can't make any suggestions but I'm sure you can find something.

    3. In your essay, explain that why you are not personally religious, you have explored the Adventist tradition and admire (fill in here) about it. You hope to learn more about it as a student at LLU and think that you would be very happy in that environment.

    That's all assuming that what you are saying is true. Going to a religious school is not for everyone. Do you research and consider your options carefully. Make an informed decision.
  30. AdmissionsRX

    AdmissionsRX SDN Mentor

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    I have been a pharmacy educator for 21 years and now at my fifth school.

    I have been involved with Admissions for 10 years at a PharmCAS and a non-PharmCAS school.

    Please feel free to ask any questions that you might have. I will answer what I can.

    :)
  31. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hello,
    First, I would look at the colleges of pharmacy you plan to apply to. Some will require that you take certain prerequisities at a 4 year school. That information may help you to decide where to begin. Also, just FYI, you can go to a 4 year school part time also, as a non-degree seeking student.

    Second, again, decide what schools you are interested in applying to. Some schools will only consider your performance in their prerequisite courses which helps those students whose overall GPA is lower. For those schools that consider ALL your undergraduate courses in makiing their decision, most will consider your overall application and not just the grades you received so they will likely consider your individual circumstances. That said, you will need to perform at a high level in the coursework you have remaining!

    As far as GPA for the science classes you have remaining: I think a 3.1 or 3.2 is generally a good starting point. I would recommend that you speak with the advisors at the schools you are considering. Only those individuals can give you an accurate read of how competitive you are for their schools and what you need to do going forward.

    I think it is fairly common for students to apply to schools more than once. I think the national trend is for students to spend 3-4 years in school completing prereqs before entering pharmacy school.

    Good luck!
  32. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hello,
    If you are sending to schools that require all of this, I would absolutely send it all together. Make copies of everything you send so if it is lost, you can replicate it. If you send it piece by piece, it will drive the admissions staff crazy and individual pieces may get lost. Yes, send certified so you have confirmation that it was received.
  33. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    You may want to consider including your disability in your personal statement if it helps to let the admissions committee understand who you are, what obstacles you have overcome, and why you are pursuing the profession. Most schools will want to know what makes you unique.

    However, it is not necessary to disclose it until you have been admitted when most schools will request that you let them know of any physical or learning disability that will require special accomodations.
    Good luck!
  34. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Of course, I really can't say whether you would be admitted or not. I would recommend talking directly with the advisors at the schools you would like to attend to find out how competitive you are. You certainly won't be admitted if you don't apply. If your PCAT is strong, that may boost your application and pharmacy work and volunteer experience is also a plus. If you are applying to a school that has rolling admissions and also requires the PCAT, then you may be at a disadvantage since the October PCAT score won't come in until end of November/early December. That may be late in the process for schools with rolling admission.

    Good luck!
  35. Old Timer

    Old Timer SDN Advisor SDN Advisor

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    I am a community pharmacist with 25 years of experience. The first nineteen years were spent in independent community pharmacies and the last six years with major national chain.

    I am here to answer any of your questions related to the practice of pharmacy in the community setting.

    I would especially like to help interns as they start out in their chosen profession.

    Mindful of the words of the Talmud:

    Much have I learned from my teachers....

    More from my friends than my teachers....

    But from my students I have learned the most.......
  36. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    The schools that I am familiar with will be concerned with your performance in their prereqs, in science courses as a whole, and with your PCAT score, initially. If those first numbers are competitive, then they will also be concerned with your maturity level, communication skills, knowledge of the profession. It is certainly a good plan to get your degree---your major should not matter to most schools. The degree will not typically exempt you from any of the required courses, however. I would check with the schools you are interested in on that question.

    Good luck!
  37. RxPharmD

    RxPharmD SDN Mentor

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    Hello,
    You generally take the PCAT when you have had at least biology, anatomy/physiology, general chem, organic chem, stats, calculus. The PCAT covers what you KNOW and have learned in those courses so the more of the courses you have had when you take the PCAT, the better you will do. Since you apply to pharmacy school about a year before you expect to enter, I advise students to try to take the PCAT in June or August and then no later than October to meet admissions requirements for most schools. Kaplan puts out a good study guide and they also offer a CD, and a full blown study course. Good luck.
  38. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    It's impossible for us to answer this because we don't know how many credit hours you have already earned and how many "core" pharmacy courses you need to take. Those are things that are relatively simple to figure out for yourself. Good luck. :luck::luck:
  39. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    This is going to vary tremendously by school. I won't lie to you - that PCAT score if very low and the Admissions Committee will see that as a red flag. My school screens by GPA and PCAT so if you are below a certain (non-published) point, you don't get an interview.

    You need to meet with an admissions representative of the schools you are interested in and ask them point blank if you have a shot at an interview with that score. Only the specific schools can answer that question.

    You may want to consider a re-take if you think you can score higher the second time around. :luck:
  40. ManualPick

    ManualPick SDN Mentor

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    This is just my opinion but I would not waste my time and money auditing a class. I would probably purchase a good study guide and maybe a chemistry textbook and try to review on my own. How did you do in these classes the first time around? If you did well, your self-directed review should be fairly straightforward.

    Here is a good book I used: Schaum's Outline of General, Organic and Biological Chemistry. It's less than $15 on amazon.com and includes practice problems. I used it a lot during my undergrad chemistry courses and have referred to it in pharmacy school as well.

    Good luck. :luck:
  41. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator Staff Member Administrator SDN Senior Moderator Lifetime Donor Partner Organization

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    First of all, I apologize for the delay in responding to this question. I'm one of the volunteer staff here at SDN and I'm in pharmacy school so I think I can help with your question.

    There are plenty of people in my class who got into pharmacy school after only two years of college. So they would have been applying and taking the PCAT with the same amount of completed coursework as you have. It can be done but it is not the easiest route. You might consider (since you have had some doubts about your career choice already) completing a bachelor's degree and getting a little life experience behind you before committing time and money to a specific career.

    Regardless of what you decide, I wish you luck!
  42. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator Staff Member Administrator SDN Senior Moderator Lifetime Donor Partner Organization

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    Applying to work as a pharmacy technician or clerk is one possibility. Depending on your experience, availability and credentials, there may be a position that is right for you. If you have any friends or families already working in the field, they may be able to assist you.

    Volunteering may be an option in some pharmacy settings, although HIPAA privacy laws limit what you can do as a volunteer at some facilities. If you live near a VA hospital, you could try there. My local VA accepts pharmacy students as volunteers. This will vary by location.

    A good place to start is the Academy of Student Pharmacists.

    SDN has published a Pharmacy Admissions Guide. - the link goes to Amazon.com
  43. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator Staff Member Administrator SDN Senior Moderator Lifetime Donor Partner Organization

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    Pharmacist
    Pharmacist SDN Partner SDN Published Author NCPA Kappa Psi SDN 7+ Year Member
  44. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator Staff Member Administrator SDN Senior Moderator Lifetime Donor Partner Organization

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Cube Farm
    Status:
    Pharmacist
    Pharmacist SDN Partner SDN Published Author NCPA Kappa Psi SDN 7+ Year Member
    This thread is going to be locked until a new mentor can be recruited. Thank you to everyone for your questions, and you patience!
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