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Advice for an incoming P1?

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PharmDoReMe

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Hi,

As the title implies, I'll be starting school in the fall. Does anyone have any advice on how to transition into pharmacy school? I'll be moving out of state and I'm going to a relatively new school (applied late and didn't have the best stats), so I was also wondering if anyone could offer advice on how to best present and market myself. From what I've gathered, newer schools have a pretty negative reputation, and although I can't exactly change the fact that I'll be going to a newer school, I would like to know if there are some things I could do (besides a high GPA) to really help myself after I graduate, since pharmacy is a pretty tough field right now anyways.

I would really appreciate anything you guys have to say. :)
 

DrDrugs2012

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Disagree. Unless your job in a pharmacy is with the pharmacy you plan to join after graduation (i.e you go to UCSF and want to be hired at the UCSF hospital so you intern at the UCSF hospital), then experience in a pharmacy may not be the best use of your time - especially if you already possess experience in a pharmacy.

You should first identify goals to pursue during pharmacy school. Pick a target career within pharmacy (e.g. community/central fill or outpatient hospital, clinical pharmacy, industry, etc). Next, find a mentor at your school who is able to provide you with solid guidance on the types of activities which will help you achieve your objective. You don't need to wait until the fall to reach out to faculty - you are an incoming student. Be proactive! However, be professional and respectful of that faculty member's time. Be prepared to discuss all of the following non-exhaustive items: your career goal and what led you to that conclusion; academic track (if your school has tracks) or at minimum elective coursework; research opportunities (if applicable); leadership opportunities and co-curricular activities; employment experience during pharmacy school (if applicable); tips on how to prepare for school. Lastly, follow that advice offered by the mentor and meet with the mentor regularly to ensure you are on the right track.
 
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y0ssarian87

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Disagree. Unless your job in a pharmacy is with the pharmacy you plan to join after graduation (i.e you go to UCSF and want to be hired at the UCSF hospital so you intern at the UCSF hospital), then experience in a pharmacy may not be the best use of your time - especially if you already possess experience in a pharmacy.

You should first identify goals to pursue during pharmacy school. Pick a target career within pharmacy (e.g. community/central fill or outpatient hospital, clinical pharmacy, industry, etc). Next, find a mentor at your school who is able to provide you with solid guidance on the types of activities which will help you achieve your objective. You don't need to wait until the fall to reach out to faculty - you are an incoming student. Be proactive! However, be professional and respectful of that faculty member's time. Be prepared to discuss all of the following non-exhaustive items: your career goal and what led you to that conclusion; academic track (if your school has tracks) or at minimum elective coursework; research opportunities (if applicable); leadership opportunities and co-curricular activities; employment experience during pharmacy school (if applicable); tips on how to prepare for school. Lastly, follow that advice offered by the mentor and meet with the mentor regularly to ensure you are on the right track.

This is good advice, but I don't believe it has to be mutually exclusive from working. I found working early to be one of the most valuable things I did.

First, because I found a job with a well-known hospital, I think it helped me when applying to nationwide internships and scholarships. There were many things I applied for that benefitted from a good employer LOR and from the name of the health-system on the CV.

Second, firsthand health-system experience helped me understand the logistical and practical concerns of what it means to work in a hospital pharmacy. That was something I was less familiar with going into school, but an important aspect when putting pharmacy services in context when going through school.

Third, it was extremely helpful as a study tool. Seeing meds that are used frequently, seeing their dosing, their storage concerns, their formulations, etc. is all pretty helpful to start getting familiar with what products are out there, and thoughtful discussion with pharmacists at work helps you learn.

Fourth, as a poor student, having some (modest) income was nice.

Lastly, I found working to be helpful in time management at school.

Obviously you don't have to work, and as DrDrugs2012 mentions, a goal-driven plan guided by someone in the field you're interested in will be your best course of action. However, I think there are many excellent benefits from working, and I don't think your work commitment has to come at odds with pursuing your goals.

Best of luck!


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DrDrugs2012

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This is good advice, but I don't believe it has to be mutually exclusive from working. I found working early to be one of the most valuable things I did.

First, because I found a job with a well-known hospital, I think it helped me when applying to nationwide internships and scholarships. There were many things I applied for that benefitted from a good employer LOR and from the name of the health-system on the CV.

Second, firsthand health-system experience helped me understand the logistical and practical concerns of what it means to work in a hospital pharmacy. That was something I was less familiar with going into school, but an important aspect when putting pharmacy services in context when going through school.

Third, it was extremely helpful as a study tool. Seeing meds that are used frequently, seeing their dosing, their storage concerns, their formulations, etc. is all pretty helpful to start getting familiar with what products are out there, and thoughtful discussion with pharmacists at work helps you learn.

Fourth, as a poor student, having some (modest) income was nice.

Lastly, I found working to be helpful in time management at school.

Obviously you don't have to work, and as DrDrugs2012 mentions, a goal-driven plan guided by someone in the field you're interested in will be your best course of action. However, I think there are many excellent benefits from working, and I don't think your work commitment has to come at odds with pursuing your goals.

Best of luck!


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I want to be clear that I don't think employment is a waste of time; rather than employment for the sake of employment/experience is not the best strategy. Without a more in depth look at the simplistic statement made by the previous response, I sought to eliminate the idea that experience is experience. Not all experience is created equal and the weighting is dependent and variable upon what one ultimately applies for in the future.

One must align their activities with their objective. As I say in my step by step formula - discuss what employment option is best for oneself with the mentor.
 
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PharmDoReMe

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Thank you very much for your advice! I really appreciate it.

I was definitely contemplating getting a job at least within the few months of me moving to the city, plus hopefully join a group or association. I'll also definitely talk to an adviser because I don't want to go into retail and the school's had students go into fellowships and residencies, so hopefully I'll receive guidance that actually helps!

I'm just not very sure what pharmacy school will be like unlike I obviously walk in my first day, but I'm sure it's definitely different than undergraduate haha. I'm just nervous and feel like a small freshman all over again. But this was very helpful!
 

Lucky One

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Since you are leaning towards hospital try to plan out your resume now that would give you that outcome. (gpa,extacurriculat,hospital job etc.) A lot of places are requiring residencies so browse that section for more information. Another advice that would have helped me was to try and not spread yourself too thin, just make sure you can handle it all before jumping all in.
 
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PharmDoReMe

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Since you are leaning towards hospital try to plan out your resume now that would give you that outcome. (gpa,extacurriculat,hospital job etc.) A lot of places are requiring residencies so browse that section for more information. Another advice that would have helped me was to try and not spread yourself too thin, just make sure you can handle it all before jumping all in.

Will do, thanks! Do you have particular extracurricular activities you'd recommend?
 

ldiot

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It's not like you put your GPA on your job application. It might mean something if you are going for a residency though but in my opinion they are more interested in how prepared you are to start working. They don't want to train up a clueless new hire who has never worked in a pharmacy before. Is there a skill or knowledge gap? How long will it take for you to be comfortable/proficient? Are you going to get overwhelmed because you aren't prepared for the job?

Don't get me wrong, school should come before work but in terms of job prospects experience is very important. It will help you be a better pharmacist and some stuff you learn will even help you in school (e.g. top 300 drugs). The company you work for in school may even have a job for you when you graduate.
 

RxAddyCt

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I want to be clear that I don't think employment is a waste of time; rather than employment for the sake of employment/experience is not the best strategy. Without a more in depth look at the simplistic statement made by the previous response, I sought to eliminate the idea that experience is experience. Not all experience is created equal and the weighting is dependent and variable upon what one ultimately applies for in the future.

One must align their activities with their objective. As I say in my step by step formula - discuss what employment option is best for oneself with the mentor.

This is easily one of the best responses for the OP. If you have a job in a pharmacy but you're just doing straight tech work then find a different job.

An example would be an intern at CVS vs. an intern at the VA. These two will have experience in the pharmacy; however, one is far superior than the other.


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beautifulrobot

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It's not like you put your GPA on your job application. It might mean something if you are going for a residency though...

Just a quick correction, in most private sector jobs they don't require you put your GPA on your job application, but many government jobs, especially military, want to know your GPA and may even have minimum GPA requirements. Whether it's right or not, having a strong GPA can still open up opportunities for you. Also, if you plan on doing any postgraduate programs (residency, fellowship) or another advanced degree (go back to med school, get a PhD, etc.) having a strong academic record will make it a lot easier to pursue those paths.
 
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ldiot

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Just a quick correction, in most private sector jobs they don't require you put your GPA on your job application, but many government jobs, especially military, want to know your GPA and may even have minimum GPA requirements. Whether it's right or not, having a strong GPA can still open up opportunities for you. Also, if you plan on doing any postgraduate programs (residency, fellowship) or another advanced degree (go back to med school, get a PhD, etc.) having a strong academic record will make it a lot easier to pursue those paths.

Also class rank. Some schools are H/P/F so class rank is what is used. I know that what the residency programs in my area tend to look at.
 

PharmDoReMe

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Also class rank. Some schools are H/P/F so class rank is what is used. I know that what the residency programs in my area tend to look at.

I'm very sorry if this is an ignorant question, but what does H/P/F mean? I've never seen that before. Does P/F mean pass fail?
 

SnozzBerry

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I'm very sorry if this is an ignorant question, but what does H/P/F mean? I've never seen that before. Does P/F mean pass fail?
Honors/pass/fail

To answer your thread question: drop out and find another career.
 

PharmDoReMe

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Honors/pass/fail

To answer your thread question: drop out and find another career.

Ah, got it. I realized what the H meant after I had already replied.

Also, I was considering it after seeing the negativity towards pharmacy on these boards lol. I can understand though, pharmacy is in a ****ty place right now and shows no upward trend right now.
 
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