is pharmacy right for me? advice appreciated

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kitkat06

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Hi all,

I stumbled onto this website not too long ago and am absolutely elated that there is such wonderful support group out there! I have been thinking about what I want to do now that I have graduated and pharmacy is a field I am heavily considering. I am trying to find a single career path that would align with my wide interests. So, I have some (well, MANY) questions for those of you who are more experienced in the area of pharmacy. They are about both general and specific aspects of pharmacy as a career choice. If you have any suggestions to my list of questions, please, please, PLEASE help!

Ok. Here goes…

The background- my desires:

I am extremely interested in microorganisms. bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses… you name it, I find them fascinating. What I would like to do is to make drugs or come up with treatments to combat the pathogenic ones. At the same time, I also would like track down and control diseases, especially the communicable ones. While I am interested in research, I don't want to go for just a Ph.D. I want something that would enable to me to do research and see patients at the same time … so I am currently looking at dual degree programs…while I am interested in a career that will effect the public on a broader scale, I also would like help out the sickly on an individual basis too…I could also see myself doing the regulatory of drugs and vaccines…

The dilemmas:

1. I have been told that what I am interested in – making drugs and treatments against and other ways of control for infectious diseases - is too narrow, that it would work against me in the eyes of the admission committee. Is that true? I don't see them that way; I feel like what I just named is broad, TOO broad… what should I do? Is there one single profession/ degree that would enable me (with the knowledge and authority) to do all of the above? Am I thinking too much? Am I being too ambitious? I want to be able to use my degree and really make an impact in the world. However, clearly I can't say on my personal statement that I am interested in almost all parts of pharmacy – clinical (for clinical trials, tailoring of drug regimen for patients), government (clinical trials, regulatory, drug discovery and development), industry (drug discovery and development)… Admissions would just think that I am bluffing, or that I really don't know what I want in life…However, my vision could feasibly span across those three sectors…(are my interests what one would call "translational research"?)

2. Also, how would I be able to express my genuine interest in my personal statement and still keep the admission committee captivated / interested in my application? Am I right to think the field of pharmacy as a career all about retail or hospital setting and direct patient contact? (the few?) Pharmacists who are working in outside the conventional settings are those who no longer want to continue to perform at their place of initial interest (e.g. drug stores and hospital) and THEN later picked other avenues of practice? I don't mind patient contact. In fact, I am interested in pharmacotherapy and a specialty residency.

3. For what I want to do, I do know that pharm.d/mph and pharm.d/ph.d programs are an option. Are there listings of pharmacy schools available out that indicating which schools offer such combined tracks? While there are statistics on admissions into pharm.d.programs, are there info on competition into dual degree programs (are they as competitive as md/ph.d programs)? I don't imagine them to be federally funded in any way?

4. I guess all my questions stem from this: Is a Pharm.D a degree (or a combination of it with a graduate program) what I should be going for? Would getting the pharmacy degree allow me (the power) to practice the medical / pharmaceutical knowledge I will learn in pharmacy school in a way that would advance me toward my future goal? What are the things that MDs in internal medicine can do but Pharm.D degree holders with an Infectious Disease residency background can't do? What are the limits and where do responsibilities overlap? Surely there must be some. I mean, for the pharm.d, their residency in infectious diseases (typically one year, right? After getting the pharm.d. degree) is a lot shorter than that of medical students (oh, I think 3-4 years?). I don't even know what my chances are for pharmacy school, but I really want to apply and see what comes out of it…and whether I could reach my dreams…

oh, and on top of what I just mentioned, I am also interested in clinical toxicology and forensics.

These questions have been boiling in my mind… should I focus my efforts elsewhere? Any answers or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks in advance!!
~ quite lost

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rxlynn

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Hi all,

Ok. Here goes…

The background- my desires:

I am extremely interested in microorganisms. bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses… you name it, I find them fascinating. What I would like to do is to make drugs or come up with treatments to combat the pathogenic ones. At the same time, I also would like track down and control diseases, especially the communicable ones. While I am interested in research, I don’t want to go for just a Ph.D. I want something that would enable to me to do research and see patients at the same time … so I am currently looking at dual degree programs…while I am interested in a career that will effect the public on a broader scale, I also would like help out the sickly on an individual basis too…I could also see myself doing the regulatory of drugs and vaccines…

The dilemmas:

1. I have been told that what I am interested in – making drugs and treatments against and other ways of control for infectious diseases - is too narrow, that it would work against me in the eyes of the admission committee. Is that true? I don’t see them that way; I feel like what I just named is broad, TOO broad… what should I do? Is there one single profession/ degree that would enable me (with the knowledge and authority) to do all of the above? Am I thinking too much? Am I being too ambitious? I want to be able to use my degree and really make an impact in the world. However, clearly I can’t say on my personal statement that I am interested in almost all parts of pharmacy – clinical (for clinical trials, tailoring of drug regimen for patients), government (clinical trials, regulatory, drug discovery and development), industry (drug discovery and development)… Admissions would just think that I am bluffing, or that I really don’t know what I want in life…However, my vision could feasibly span across those three sectors…(are my interests what one would call “translational research”?)

2. Also, how would I be able to express my genuine interest in my personal statement and still keep the admission committee captivated / interested in my application? Am I right to think the field of pharmacy as a career all about retail or hospital setting and direct patient contact? (the few?) Pharmacists who are working in outside the conventional settings are those who no longer want to continue to perform at their place of initial interest (e.g. drug stores and hospital) and THEN later picked other avenues of practice?

3. For what I want to do, I don’t suppose my chances are high for getting into a Pharm.d only program (see question 2). For research related programs, I do know that pharm.d/mph and pharm.d/ph.d programs are another option. Are there listings of pharmacy schools available out that indicating which schools offer such combined tracks? While there are statistics on admissions into pharm.d.programs, are there info on competition into dual degree programs (are they as competitive as md/ph.d programs)? I don’t imagine them to be federally funded in any way?

4. I guess all my questions stem from this: Is a Pharm.D a degree (or a combination of it with a graduate program) what I should be going for? Would getting the pharmacy degree allow me (the power) to practice the medical / pharmaceutical knowledge I will learn in pharmacy school in a way that would advance me toward my future goal? What are the things that MDs in internal medicine can do but Pharm.D degree holders with an Infectious Disease residency background can’t do? What are the limits and where do responsibilities overlap? Surely there must be some. I mean, for the pharm.d, their residency in infectious diseases (typically one year, right? After getting the pharm.d. degree) is a lot shorter than that of medical students (oh, I think 3-4 years?). Should I be looking at medicine instead (though my credentials are not anywhere as good as other med school applicants…and have to try, try and try again…)?? I don’t even know what my chances are for pharmacy school, but I really want to apply and see what comes out of it…and whether I could reach my dreams…

These questions have been boiling in my mind… should I focus my efforts elsewhere? Any answers or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks in advance!!
~ quite lost

Ok - there's a lot here, so I'll just give you a few impressions. Just so you know, my background is MS in chemistry, and I am currently a P1 in pharmacy school, so I've done a bit of both worlds (the research side and now the pharmD side).

I think that your goals are overly broad at this point - to actually make drugs or design drugs, you would typically be a chemistry PhD in industry. To track down or control disease - I associate that more with something like CDC or the Public Health Service - probably a PhD or MPH degree. I would think it is relatively rare that people have a job that allows them to see individual patients, as well as doing something on a very broad basis - maybe an MD who is also involved in med school-type research?? Regulatory of drugs and vaccines would be more FDA - type work - I know somebody currently who does that who has the Bpharm and a PhD.

There are certainly PharmD's who do not do hospital or retail. And, you are right that there are residency opportunities to focus on various areas. However, to me you sound like you really have your heart set on a more broad, research type career, and I'm not sure that PharmD-residency would get you to that goal. And, I'm not sure that you would really enjoy a lot of the things that you have to do in pharmacy school - there is a LOT of individual patient interaction which has nothing to do with the type of broad goals that you mention.

I've never heard of a list of joint programs - I would think you would just have to check with the individual school websites that you have an interest in. Certainly, the combo of PhD/PharmD would give you a significant edge over a straight PhD in terms of pharmacology-type knowledge.

Do you have any experience in research or in pharmacy at this point? My suggestion is that you get some sort of job in one of the areas, or arrange to shadow a researcher - anything to try to get an idea of what day-to-day work would be like. For myself, I found in grad school that I hated actually being in the lab and doing "big-picture" type research - I'm more of a one person at a time type, so my pharmacy goals will reflect that.

Good luck - if I think of anything else I will post again.
 

ForcedEntry

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As a technologist in a medical R&D firm, I have monitored three clinical studies in hospitals. Based on this, I don't think it is your diploma that matters. Instead, I think it is circumstance, your professionalism, where you work, and what department you are in. I never thought I would ever have this opportunity to directly monitor the effects of instrument safety systems that I developed, while interacting with the patients whose lives I was trying to improve.

PharmD could afford this to you. But so could no degree at all.
 
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sdn1977

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kitkat....I have some thoughts about your situation & appreciate your interests & concerns. I'll get back to you tonight after work - it will give me some time to think about this. In the meantime....try to search out some of Kwizard's posts....he has done some great summaries on the various nontraditional routes pharmacists take. Both he & I have shared our thoughts in various posts on this & sometimes its hard to redo them.

Just for your own interest though....you cannot be a primary investigator in a Phase IV clinical trial unless you are an MD. The reason is the drug must be given in an actual patient which will also require medical intervention. That does not preclude you from being a pharmacist with that physician - you just will not be the primary investigator. I know one pharmacist personally who works for a group of physicians - they do cardiovascular drug studies & know one professionally who is employed by a corporation hired to conduct all sorts of drug studies.

I'll try to get back here later! PM me if you have a specific question before I get back..
 
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heyya kitkat, ok although i dont have much knowledge on all teh other things the oher guys hav mentioned, but the ONLY CAREER HERE FOR U IS "pharmaceutical chemistry" cuZ IT INVOLS FINDING OUT ABOUT DRUGS, WHERE ralot of research is involved and u will also be handling with drugs. anyway u look into that and tell me wat u think of that professioin. ;)
 

Dr.Biassi

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Anyone in the boat as me?

I'm in the same boat
Love chemistry, psychology, biology. I choose pharmacy include all of these. and I want to do clinical research later so I'm going to get a master degree in clinical research after. You will be able to do both see patient and counsel them and then do clinical research
 
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