Joleybear

2+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2016
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Pre-Pharmacy
I hate chem lab. I hate it. I was originally going to be a Dietitian but I turned to Pharmacy and to be honest it's mainly because I need a higher paying career if I want to support my family. I have kids with disabilities and 3 kids 6 and under right now. I hate chem lab. I haven't had it in 10 years and the person running it doesn't want to help at all. She expects me to understand the things in our workbook when I have not been taught it - ever. Not in high school, not in college. There are words I have never heard and I am normally an A student but I am behind and I feel so overwhelmed. I had an A in Chem 101 last year and I am still doing well in 122 (the second course) as far as the lecture part goes and the math portion in that part of class. I just hate the lab portion so much and the experiments...or mainly lab reports (different instructor by the way). Will I need to do a LOT of that as a pharmacist? Will there be so much math that I need to whip out a calculator? Will I need to actually *make* drugs? I really would prefer to work in a retail setting, by the way. Tell me what I'd be in for. Thanks!
 
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Amicable Angora

Lagomorpha
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Oct 5, 2012
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Assuming you are going to be working a traditional retail shift, the most chemistry and chemistry related math you will need is the kind of baseline you would need to have in the kitchen, for example, to bake a cake.
 
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Joleybear

Joleybear

2+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2016
140
15
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
Assuming you are going to be working a traditional retail shift, the most chemistry and chemistry related math you will need is the kind of baseline you would need to have in the kitchen, for example, to bake a cake.
Lol. I definitely have that much... Actually, I just realized that I am struggling more with the data portion even than I am with the experiment itself. Graphing and what not. I can get my data. I can analyze things like molarity, concentration, molality, and other things, use Avogadros number in my lecture portion of chem, figure out how basic compounds may interact (at a basic level so far) etc... but When she says "now graph your data" I don't know what she wants. She doesn't tell us. She just says "graph it". And I'm like how? I feel like there are multiple ways to graph the same data... what am I looking at or analyzing? Ugh. It's stressing me out to be honest. Oh and I have no idea what a "fit"is or "linear least squares regression method" which we were told to use in the original syllabus. I'm not made out to be a researcher, let's put it that way. lol. I'm otherwise a near straight A student and solid straight As before I had kids. I am wondering if it's just the person teaching our labs that I don't mesh well with and maybe it's less "chemistry" than it is math? Anyway thank you for the input!
 
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lord999

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Feb 20, 2002
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Same with the hospital except you have to be OCD enough to be careful when handling the drugs. Carcinogenic (cancer causing) is not usually the problem, it's the stuff that burns on contact on skin or needs glassware that you really don't want to inhale the fumes or touch it. Radiopharmaceuticals are actually not as difficult as some drugs (itraconazole two-syringe transfer suspension anyone?) as the safety equipment and technology availability are better.

Most US non-research pharmacists would have some retention of basic stoichiometry and nomenclature, but really not the properties of specific reactions or syntheses unless they work actively in something that requires them to remember that knowlege. The Canadians probably remember more of their basic science as its tested in the version of the Boards.

You do need enough math skill to do dose calculations, even with the computer around. What's examined at the technician level is basically what you need to know for the day to day:
PTCB Practice Exam

And yes, you do have to prepare drugs for dispensing. 99.9% of them involve either something really straightforward like "open stock bottle, count to 30, and tray it into an amber vial" or "attach this bottle to this bag using this screw-in port that has a red cap just like the bottle's head", but there are times where you would need to make some basic preparations which are less complicated than baking a Duncan Hines cake mix (to the point that I wish we had that as an admission criteria as some students can't seem to follow even that basic level of Direct-To-Consumer instruction). The things that there are no instructions for, you theoretically should be able to figure it out through reading or you ship it off to a compounding pharmacy that can.

The best way to understand is to work, you should work as a tech. That'll give you the idea of what is expected competencywise in the pharmacy.
 
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Joleybear

Joleybear

2+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2016
140
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Pre-Pharmacy
Same with the hospital except you have to be OCD enough to be careful when handling the drugs. Carcinogenic (cancer causing) is not usually the problem, it's the stuff that burns on contact on skin or needs glassware that you really don't want to inhale the fumes or touch it. Radiopharmaceuticals are actually not as difficult as some drugs (itraconazole two-syringe transfer suspension anyone?) as the safety equipment and technology availability are better.

Most US non-research pharmacists would have some retention of basic stoichiometry and nomenclature, but really not the properties of specific reactions or syntheses unless they work actively in something that requires them to remember that knowlege. The Canadians probably remember more of their basic science as its tested in the version of the Boards.

You do need enough math skill to do dose calculations, even with the computer around. What's examined at the technician level is basically what you need to know for the day to day:

And yes, you do have to prepare drugs for dispensing. 99.9% of them involve either something really straightforward like "open stock bottle, count to 30, and tray it into an amber vial" or "attach this bottle to this bag using this screw-in port that has a red cap just like the bottle's head", but there are times where you would need to make some basic preparations which are less complicated than baking a Duncan Hines cake mix (to the point that I wish we had that as an admission criteria as some students can't seem to follow even that basic level of Direct-To-Consumer instruction). The things that there are no instructions for, you theoretically should be able to figure it out through reading or you ship it off to a compounding pharmacy that can.

The best way to understand is to work, you should work as a tech. That'll give you the idea of what is expected competency wise in the pharmacy.
I actually have OCD...as in diagnosed. Im not sure that's relevant, to be honest. lol. I tried a few PCAT questions and did okay. I have a while before I take that. The PTCB is far below the level I'd need but I plan on taking that first so I can get some experience nearby before I finish pharmacy school. "itraconazole two-syringe transfer suspension" no idea what that is but Im only in chem 122 so lol. nomenclature is no problem. I have a great memory. Stoichiometry I'm still learning obviously but so far so good. Dose calculations shouldn't be too hard I assume? Like how many ml for a person of a specific body weight etc? I do that already for my kids. I know it's probably a more complicated version of that, but that would be the basic idea, right? I can follow instructions no problem. I was just wondering if I'm expected to know every detail offhand, like will I need to off the top of my head know how much water to add to reconstitute a medication in every case or will it be shown how much per (at least sometimes?), etc. I don't need to actually *make* anything more complicated as opposed to just mixing contents like powder and water right? lol. Sorry if that's a dumb question. Thanks for the reply :) Why does it feel like school for Pharmacy even Prepharm is way harder than the actual job?
 

lord999

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Why does it feel like school for Pharmacy even Prepharm is way harder than the actual job?
Because it is harder intellectually, that's been the criticism of pharmacy education when the degree became required in the 1970s (it was optional in most places as late as the 60s). I used to remark that the hardest part of pharmacy school was getting in, but I now have to revise that in light of the clearly declining standard of students much less applicants. I certainly found the prepharmacy part way more abusive and horrible than it had to be (and also, you are in competition with the premeds as you share most of their classes and you actually have to perform well in the chemistry classes).

But in the same note, pharmacy school nowadays teaches about this theoretical role of pharmacy and not how to be a pharmacist. I time and again have to recommend to the pharmacy students that their best use of their time in education comes from getting a job as an intern or tech, and supplementing what they are seeing and doing in their jobs with the lectures and classwork (and not the other way around!) as school ends, but work is for a lifetime. The only way to be a pharmacist is to work at it, and the only way to work at it is to get a job in the area. If you don't have a job, that's actually problematic. What if you find out like a lot of the new grads that the environment is not for you?

There is a change at work from school. While work should not be anywhere near as intellectually hard as school, it is emotionally and spiritually difficult. Read the other postings about co-worker drama and things corporations and hospitals do to make sure they meet the bottom line whether it is money or power. Even money focused careerists have to contend with that, and most are ill-equipped without prior experience on how to deal with the overgrown adolescent new practitioners (new pharmacists), the politics of spending more waking time with your co-workers than with your family (midcareer), and running the adult day-cay center for those categories (supervision and administration). There are unicorn jobs in this business, but the rank and file pharmacist does earn their pay, it's just a different form of labor than strictly intellectual and physical. If there is anything you can get out of these forum exchanges, the toll on your psyche is depressingly part of the compensation package. All that background school is simple work comparatively to the larger challenge of keeping sane in the work environment.
 

Zynx

10+ Year Member
Nov 7, 2006
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You would greatly benefit from working as a pharmacy tech, at least during the summers, and this would give you some perspective on being a pharmacist. It would improve your chances at getting accepted to a pharmacy school, and your general competency in the future.
 

BidingMyTime

Lost Shaker Of Salt
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Oct 2, 2006
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There is pretty much NO chemistry in day to day work of a pharmacist, but you will need lots of chemistry to become a pharmacist. Normally I tell people if they are having trouble with gen chem, to look at a different field, because organic and biochem are substantially harder. But, it does sound like you have a poor teacher. Depending on how your first test comes out, if it's bad, you might want to withdraw and try to take with a different teacher. I have no idea what your teacher is talking about either.

Even in retail, you will do some basic compounding, and have to understand some basic chemistry for the compounding....but 99.9% of the time, you will have recipes to follow. The chemistry you use in day to day practice is far less than the chemistry you actually learn. Especially for the old fogies like me who took medicinal or pharmaceutical chemistry.
 

Rouelle

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Jan 7, 2011
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Chemistry is more of a foundation for pharmacy. If you don't understand general chemistry, you won't understand organic. If you don't understand ochem, you won't understand biochem. If you don't understand biochem, you won't understand physiology. If you don't understand physiology, you won't understand pharmacology. If you don't understand pharmacology, then you don't know much about the drugs you dispense. By the time they are dispensing drugs, most pharmacists have forgotten most of their chemistry, but there was enough of a foundation down there somewhere to build a pharmacy education upon.
 

FutureFarmacist26

2+ Year Member
Nov 2, 2016
22
3
Honestly, if you work in a community pharmacy...zero chemistry (except a few concepts like counseling patients about taking some antibiotics and vitamins a few hours apart because of chelation.) If you work in a hospital pharmacy, you may need a bit more but nothing too complicated. These concepts become routine after you've worked for a while, so all you're doing is recall of general concepts and not chemistry problems.
 
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Joleybear

Joleybear

2+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2016
140
15
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
You would greatly benefit from working as a pharmacy tech, at least during the summers, and this would give you some perspective on being a pharmacist. It would improve your chances at getting accepted to a pharmacy school, and your general competency in the future.
Ironically my boyfriend works at Walgreens as a manager and he just got books for the PTCE for himself, so he can be promoted at work. I am thinking I will read through them and get that test done so I can get a little experience before I apply to Pharmacy School. I can use his books so I wont even need to buy my own. lol. The issue is right now I have 3 kids, 2 with disabilities and working + school isnt an option. So Id need to try it in the Summer or on weekends MAYBE.
 
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Joleybear

Joleybear

2+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2016
140
15
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
There is pretty much NO chemistry in day to day work of a pharmacist, but you will need lots of chemistry to become a pharmacist. Normally I tell people if they are having trouble with gen chem, to look at a different field, because organic and biochem are substantially harder. But, it does sound like you have a poor teacher. Depending on how your first test comes out, if it's bad, you might want to withdraw and try to take with a different teacher. I have no idea what your teacher is talking about either.

Even in retail, you will do some basic compounding, and have to understand some basic chemistry for the compounding....but 99.9% of the time, you will have recipes to follow. The chemistry you use in day to day practice is far less than the chemistry you actually learn. Especially for the old fogies like me who took medicinal or pharmaceutical chemistry.
Well thank God. I have an A in lecture and I have never even read my book for that section. lol. I had an A last semester as well. Chem is a breeze for me. I pretty much learned everything for Basic chem by once in a while listening in class and studying the night before an exam or the morning of for an hr or two. Its not an issue. Im sure it is going to get harder but for now Im good. And even when it gets harder, I will just put in lots of study time AND read my book...Lol. But Lab is just ridiculously hard and she seems to have no idea what shes doing. We did a Lewis Structure handout and I showed her a structure I had one for. She insisted it was wrong and for 10+ minutes tried to figure it out... then I googled it and I was right to begin with. Soooo yeah. and per the approach we were using to calculate VAL, BOND, etc, she said "I'm not really familiar with this assignment either - it's new to me" lol.
 
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Joleybear

Joleybear

2+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2016
140
15
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
Also, thank you for all the responses! It really calmed my nerves! :) I am going to try my best to get a friggin C in lab... I will be happy with a C because I will get an A in everything else, focus on doing amazing on my PCAT (hoping I do as well on it as on most standardized tests...HOPING), and not worry about the rest.
 
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