Pharmacy as Career Choice

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Pharmacy as Career Choice

Postby R2 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 9:15 am

Hi All,

My daughter is applying for colleges and her area of study is undecided.

She has expressed some interest in pursuing Pharmacy, which her mother and I know little about as a profession.

Are there any Pharmacists out there willing to share their perspective on their profession?

How is job satisfaction?

What is the outlook for the future?

What are "adjacent" fields of study to switch to if, during the course of study, she decides she doesn't like Pharmacy?

Thanks in advance.
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Postby btenny » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:55 pm

My niece is a phramacist and so is her husband. Their jobs prospects at this time are very good and they both make great money working for a local hospital. She is now nationally certified and does some sort of hospital cancer medicine research. I guess this is a big deal but she is very smart.

She studied chemistry at a state college but did not get an undergraduate degree. I guess this is normal for Pharma. She went on to get a PhD in Pharma from a private med/pharma college but started that PhD degree after completing part of her senior year at the state college.

Hope this helps
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Postby LadyGeek » Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:14 pm

May I suggest you and your daughter go to a local pharmacy and ask in person? You'll get a good dose of reality (pun intended). If they're busy, ask to schedule some time.

My friend recently retired as a pharmacist from a national pharmacy chain. He's told stories where the job pressure was tremendous. There are so many elderly people needing drugs, that it was difficult to keep up. The job can either be a great challenge, or you can be just another grunt worker.

The hardest part? Insurance. Period. Trying to figure out if a drug is covered is very, very complex. Then, try telling a poor customer that their drug isn't covered, and they can't understand why (or refuse to take no for an answer). You have to deal with it. Then again, most jobs have similar up and down sides.
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Postby Opponent Process » Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:20 pm

I started pre-pharmacy towards the PharmD degree, but switched towards a research track with a BS then PhD. I advise a couple of PharmD/PhD students, which she might enjoy since you are trained for the two very distinct tracks, and she can focus on one later depending on how she develops intellectually and creatively. each path has it's own unique rewards and risks.
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Postby R2 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:21 pm

Thanks for the replies. All help is appreciated.

My DW has arranged for my DD to "shadow" a pharmacist for half a day at Walmart.

Would this experience be sufficient or perhaps unbalanced? I'm thinking perhaps we should have my DD study up on the post grad options and set up something with a pharmacist at a hospital (or some other place).
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Postby R2 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 4:28 pm

Opponent Process wrote:I started pre-pharmacy towards the PharmD degree, but switched towards a research track with a BS then PhD. I advise a couple of PharmD/PhD students, which she might enjoy since you are trained for the two very distinct tracks, and she can focus on one later depending on how she develops intellectually and creatively. each path has it's own unique rewards and risks.


OP, missed your post as I cross-posted.

This is helpful as I wasn't aware of the research track. My sense is that, based on her introverted personality, she would be more suited for the research track. But this is something for her to figure out with time (But I have been wrong at least once before!).
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Postby LadyGeek » Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:00 pm

R2 wrote:Thanks for the replies. All help is appreciated.

My DW has arranged for my DD to "shadow" a pharmacist for half a day at Walmart.

Would this experience be sufficient or perhaps unbalanced? I'm thinking perhaps we should have my DD study up on the post grad options and set up something with a pharmacist at a hospital (or some other place).
Absolutely this will help. Do all of the above. Be sure she talks with the pharmacy assistants as well.

Any chance she could be a hospital volunteer in the Pharmacy area? I don't know if they do that, but working at the lowest level for free can provide worlds of insight. It will give her incentive to continue, or perhaps discover that this isn't what she really wants to do.
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Postby mark500 » Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:58 pm

Retail pharmacy is different than hospital pharmacy. Check out both.
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Postby Yipee-Ki-O » Fri Dec 24, 2010 6:26 pm

I'm an early retired pharmacist. If I could have retired after after a few months as a retail pharmacist I would have! It's a good idea to see if you can observe for a day at a busy store like Wal-Mart. Many of my fellow students in pharmacy school hadn't done so and actually believed the rosy picture painted by the faculty, the same faculty who didn't actually have to work out in the "real world." I'm sure you can find some pharmacist(s) who absolutely love the profession. But I'm afraid you'll find many more like myself who are thrilled our time behind the counter is done!
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Postby fsrph » Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:09 am

mark500 wrote:Retail pharmacy is different than hospital pharmacy. Check out both.


This is very true. Retail pharmacy generally has more irregular hours, is more dispensing of drugs, and more insurance hassles. Hospital pharmacy is different from retail pharmacy. Often times pharmacists in hospitals never touch or check a drug in the course of a day. They are deployed dealing with other health care professionals on the floors of a hospital. I work as a hospital pharmacist and there is virtually no concern about the patients insurance. Maybe you've heard that there is a nationwide pharmacist shortage. That was certainly true a few years ago but supply of pharmacists is now more matched with demand. A pharmacist is a very good part time job with many employers counting 30-32 hours a week as full time (as far as benefits are concerned). Plus, if a pharmacist has a desire to travel they will most likely find employment anywhere. The negatives are the cost of becoming a pharmacist has skyrocketed in the last 5-10 years. It isn't unusual for a pharmacy school to charge $30K tuition and the standard pharmacy program is now 6 years. Overall, I would say it's a good profession to choose if a student has the desire to enter it.

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Postby jsl11 » Sat Dec 25, 2010 12:26 am

I have a relative who is a pharmacist. He recently retired after a 40 year career in retail pharmacy. During that time, he never experienced unemployment, and whenever he wanted to change jobs (very infrequent), there was no problem finding a new one. The pay is very good, and a new pharmacist starts at the top. There is no "entry level" for retail pharmacy. Overtime hours and/or additional part time work are always available to fill in for vacations, sick leave, etc.

There is also some legal job security: In my state, it is illegal for a retail store to have an unlocked pharmacy department without a pharmacist present. So, if the drug store is open, and the pharmacy is not locked up tight, there must be a pharmacist on duty. Therefore, there are a lot of hours for the pharmacist to work, if he/she wishes. From what I have been told, overtime is typically paid at the straight hourly rate.

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Postby letsgobobby » Sat Dec 25, 2010 1:05 am

agree that retail and hospital pharmacy are totally different animals. The first is high-paying and secure but potentially very boring. The second is lower-paying and secure but potentially much more interesting. Both have high demand right now and with an aging population why should that change? Like most medical professionals they fight encroachment by lower-trained para-professionals like pharmacy techs. The 6 years required study is a major deterrent.
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Postby newbie_Mo » Sat Dec 25, 2010 1:12 am

My cousin's experience: Good pay, good job security, highly stressful, kind of boring at times just counting pills. Job satisfaction (what's that??... little). Highly recommend it for its job security as well as flexibility to switch to research track (if she's an introvert).

As a pharmacist, she can work in retail or hospital setting (become a specialist (i.e. cancer specialist, infectious diseases specialist etc.)).

Of course, tuition is high compare to the regular science track undergrad degree. However, the job security may pretty much well worth it nowadays.
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Postby waitforit » Sat Dec 25, 2010 2:36 am

I am a pharmacist that works in a hospital setting.

I'd caution against advising someone they can easily switch tracks. In most major metro areas there is a higher standard for hospital practice than retail and in all honesty we would not be looking at former retail pharmacists as candidates for hospital positions - as other posters have alluded to they are very different animals. It takes more than just desire. Its my impression that pharmacy schools are popping up like dandelions and flooding the market with new grads which is putting pressure on finding jobs right now. Graduates are finding themselves entertaining a year or two of residency / fellowships to gain a competitive edge.

I think the hot ticket right now is Informatics / IT pharmacy. If you are willing to travel a bit you can make a killing once you are certified in various vendors program training. Someone in this role would be responsible for applying clinical guidelines into workflows and IT systems to make it easier for health professionals to perform the best care for their patients. I would expect the employer to pay for that training - so if she is tech savvy and can make it through calculus and organic chemistry this might be a good path to investigate.

To the comments about counting pills...

There are certainly pharmacists out there who report their jobs are boring and all they do is count pills all day. I'd say they are not living up to their potential and they really aren't getting paid to count pills (or deal with insurance) but to keep people safe. If assessing drug profiles for problems (interactions, contraindications, lack of needed therapy, duplicate therapy, etc) and monitoring for efficacy isn't part of their practice they aren't earning their keep. Further, if pharmacists are really spending their time with insurance claims and counting and labeling stuff their employer is not making proper use of technicians.
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Postby kenschmidt » Sat Dec 25, 2010 1:39 pm

I have several friends who are pharmacists. Their experience mirrors many of the comments here. The retail side can be high pressure and lots of interaction with a sometimes surly public who want their pills and don't care what the doctor said. But - two of my friends really enjoy the retail side.

Another friend did not like the retail side and got a job at a poison control center and really liked that side of things.

Finally, a 4th friend went into the sales side, working for a large pharma company.

There are lots of opportunities in pharmacy and it seems like a good choice if you are looking for a solid way to make a living.
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Postby james22 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 3:48 am

[link removed by admin LadyGeek]
Risk ≠ Reward
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Postby R2 » Sun Dec 26, 2010 5:56 pm

Thanks to all that provided feedback. I always appreciate when strangers take the time to be so helpful.

I will forward this link to my daughter to let her give her a sense of the broad perspectives out there. (Note to DD: Don't be paralyzed by the conflicting information. Take action, and we can fix things along the way!)

In my profession, I would get similar feedback ranging from "it is great" to "it is doomed by outsourcing". So all we can do is prepare ourselves, best we can, for the inevitable changes that will face us.

In particular, I found Waitforit's comments to be quite helpful and informative. Skills required for the "hot ticket" job seem fairly general and could be applied in fields outside of Pharmacy.

Happy holidays to all!
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Postby BigPug » Sun Dec 26, 2010 7:31 pm

I'll give my input on this one.

I have spent time as both a retail and hospital pharmacist, and truthfully, I would never tell anyone to pursue a careers in retail pharmacy at this point. What previous posts have said -- that a tremendous amount of time is spent dealing with insurance -- is absolutely true. I have yet to meet a retail pharmacist that is truly satisfied with their job.

I left retail work years ago for a job in hospital pharmacy, took a huge paycut doing so, but have never looked back.

Getting a hospital job highly competitive. Where I work, we don't even look at candidates that haven't done a residency after graduation.
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Postby Billy Pilgrim » Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:42 pm

I am not a pharmacist so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

I know of a one person who is going to grad school to become a pharmacist and they have said that the academic aspect is just as hard as med school.

It is not for everyone. You need to be very organized and need to be aware of what you are doing.

There is always a need for someone to dispense the medicine.
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Postby Winthorpe » Sun Dec 26, 2010 8:58 pm

BigPug wrote:I have spent time as both a retail and hospital pharmacist, and truthfully, I would never tell anyone to pursue a careers in retail pharmacy at this point. What previous posts have said -- that a tremendous amount of time is spent dealing with insurance -- is absolutely true. I have yet to meet a retail pharmacist that is truly satisfied with their job.

I left retail work years ago for a job in hospital pharmacy, took a huge paycut doing so, but have never looked back.

Getting a hospital job highly competitive. Where I work, we don't even look at candidates that haven't done a residency after graduation.


My wife and I are both retail pharmacists. I would not advise anybody to pursue pharmacy. Like somebody else previously mentioned, new pharmacy schools are popping up everywhere and flooding the market with pharmacists. Another force in the industry, improvements in technology and efficiency are greatly reducing the number of pharmacist neccessary to do a given amount of work.
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Postby Billy Pilgrim » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:10 am

Winthorpe wrote:[

My wife and I are both retail pharmacists. I would not advise anybody to pursue pharmacy. Like somebody else previously mentioned, new pharmacy schools are popping up everywhere and flooding the market with pharmacists. Another force in the industry, improvements in technology and efficiency are greatly reducing the number of pharmacist neccessary to do a given amount of work.


I am curious on how can technology replace a pharmacist? Someone is needed to prepare and dispense medication.
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Postby waitforit » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:45 am

Robotics and automation.

Most of the physical tasks of dispensing can by handled by highly automated refill machines that do the counting and labeling.

Now that e-prescribing has started to catch on we're starting to see a direct electronic interface from the prescriber to the pharmacy software - so the entry of the order is becoming automated albeit slowly and this still requires oversight.

Finally, the insurance adjudication is slowly getting better for the major carriers.

I see this as a blessing, not a threat. Pharmacists should have value above and beyond counting and slapping labels on containers. Once we figure out a way to be more efficient at the physical distribution we can leave them to the far more important cognitive tasks as previously mentioned.

(you see why I'm so insistent on the IT angle here)

I can't compare pharmacy school to med school since I did not attend med school. Seems like the pre-coursework is similar and some of the first year classes are parallel. I would advise that if she can get through calculus and organic chemistry with good grades she will have a solid foundation for anything pharmacy school can throw at her. In all honesty the structure and function of medicinals follows closely from what is learned in organic - just taking to the next level in applying it to various disease states.
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Postby waitforit » Mon Dec 27, 2010 12:55 am

One more thing.

I'm neither bullish nor bearish on the profession as a whole. As a subset I am quite bearish on retail pharmacy practice for reasons mentioned.

I do not think that you should follow your classmates. It is 'normal' to pursue retail and 'normal' to do a general generic residency.

It is not 'normal' to seek IT system certification, join leadership groups (the kind that actually have you spend time with actual leaders not just other students), meet industry pharmacists, and attend national meetings. In my experience fewer than 5 of 100 students deviate from the template and it is those students that are very compelling for an employer to look at.
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Postby fsrph » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:16 am

Billy Pilgrim wrote:I am curious on how can technology replace a pharmacist? Someone is needed to prepare and dispense medication.


Technology can't replace all the pharmacists but can cut down on the number of pharmacists needed. For example I know a few pharmacists who work at CVS-Caremark (a mail order pharmacy). Most of the prescriptions are filled by automated systems. The pharmacist still checks the prescriptions. But, a pharmacist can easily check 400 prescriptions an hour. That seems like an unbelievable amount to me but my friends say it's not that hard to do.

Francis
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Postby travelbug » Mon Dec 27, 2010 3:08 pm

Pharmacy is a great career if your daughter is looking for job security, flexibility, great pay, and satisfactions in helping others. I like both retail and hospital environment but prefer retail due to the fact that I can talk to many people from different backgrounds. People aren't that mean if you express your concerns for their well-being. I enjoy my career which allows me to do whatever and whenever I want. Where can you get a career that allows you to take 2 months off to go to Africa in this economy ? I wish your daughter the best in her career decision.
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Postby yobria » Mon Dec 27, 2010 6:08 pm

My buddy who works at Safeway says when a Pharamcist announces she's leaving, the CEO personally calls and tries to get them to stay.

Sounds like an in-demand career to me.

Nick
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Postby BigPug » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:02 pm

yobria wrote:My buddy who works at Safeway says when a Pharamcist announces she's leaving, the CEO personally calls and tries to get them to stay.

Sounds like an in-demand career to me.

Nick


I don't doubt that, but it's totally market dependent now. A few years ago, it was not; you could get a job anytime, anywhere.

Too many new pharmacy schools opening up and cranking out new graduates. The state of Ohio is up to 7. They had 4 not even ten years ago. I worry what things will look like in ten more years.
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Postby yobria » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:23 pm

BigPug wrote:I don't doubt that, but it's totally market dependent now. A few years ago, it was not; you could get a job anytime, anywhere.

Too many new pharmacy schools opening up and cranking out new graduates. The state of Ohio is up to 7. They had 4 not even ten years ago. I worry what things will look like in ten more years.


Well at least in California, the licensing exam is quite difficult, according to my pharmacist friends. That may limit the labor pool.

Nick
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Postby Frobie » Tue Dec 28, 2010 2:51 pm

Sorry to be late to the thread. I can give you my perspective as someone who’s been in the clinical/hospital/academic side of the profession since 1994.

First, though, I should tell you that I hated retail. Hated hated hated hated retail. I did only what I had to do to get through school. I tell you this not because I think retail is bad for others if that’s what they like and want to do, but when most of the general public (and even most applicants to pharmacy school) think about pharmacists, their vision is limited to the person at the drugstore. There are tons of things you can do with a pharmacy degree beyond that.

The increased number of pharmacy schools (and increasing number of graduates from existing schools) is a real issue. As the market softens and more people are pursuing postgraduate (residency) training, it’s getting harder and harder to do 6 years and go out into a high-paying job. But there are still jobs out there, and even clinical (non-dispensing) jobs if you are willing to move around a little.

Pharmacy takes a MINIMUM of 6 years, but that’s a best-case scenario. Most of the students where I work have at least an undergraduate degree, and some even have more advanced degrees. Plus if you want to do something other than dispensing, it’s likely that an extra year or 2 of training will be necessary. So realistically, 8 or even 10 years is possible for folks who want to work in a specialized area.

Pharmacy can be as hands-on and interesting as you want it to be. I have not dispensed a prescription since ca. 1997 and have what I think is a pretty good practice and job. There are all sorts of opportunities—clinical, research, teaching, writing, etc.—in the profession that most people know nothing about. It has its frustrations just like anything else, but if someone wants to put in the work and be creative, it really is a great profession. But I wouldn’t count on being able to do “just” 6 years and going out into a stimulating, highly paid position anymore.

The first 2 years of school to become a pharmacist is pretty much the same as the other health professions, so I wouldn't be too worried about someone who's just starting college changing their mind.

Jeff
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Postby InvestoRPh » Wed Dec 29, 2010 11:01 pm

yobria wrote:My buddy who works at Safeway says when a Pharamcist announces she's leaving, the CEO personally calls and tries to get them to stay.

Nick


Yobria, your friend's initials don't happen to be Y.W., do they?

To mirror other posters, I'm also a pharmacist who advises prospective pharmacy students to seriously consider another profession in healthcare. The market is already reaching a saturation point, and many new schools that have popped up haven't even graduated their first classes yet.
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Postby Winthorpe » Thu Dec 30, 2010 2:10 am

InvestoRPh wrote:To mirror other posters, I'm also a pharmacist who advises prospective pharmacy students to seriously consider another profession in healthcare. The market is already reaching a saturation point, and many new schools that have popped up haven't even graduated their first classes yet.


Absolutely. I think it's going to be very ugly for all these kids graduating with 100-200k worth of student loan debt and no jobs in sight, and most will not even have B.S. degrees to fall back on in another area.
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Postby R2 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:23 pm

Zombie thread update . . .

My daughter was accepted into the Pre-Pharmacy program, which was somewhat selective. After a couple of years she will need to apply again, and it is my understanding that ~30% get accepted.

She came home last night after about four weeks of school and is quite stressed about a couple of Chemistry tests (got Bs), and is questioning whether this is the right major for her.

I have not background in Pharmacy, if there are typically Freshman level courses intended to reduce the class size. I also went to this university, long ago, and Calculus was used to reduce the engineering class to something manageable.

She does not enjoy Chemistry and is questioning if that would be a substantial part of being a Pharmacist.

All Freshmen in her department are also required to create a back-up plan, in case they either chose not to stay in Pharmacy, or do not get admitted to the program. Any recommendations for back-ups?
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Postby awval999 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 3:46 pm

Disclaimer: Is a pharmacist

Chemistry is pharmacy. If she doesn't like general chemistry this is what the future holds:

Organic chemistry
Medicinal chemistry
Biochemistry
Pharmaceutics

To be honest you need to love chemistry to do this.
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Re: Pharmacy as Career Choice

Postby betterinvestor2012 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:05 pm

R2 wrote:Hi All,

My daughter is applying for colleges and her area of study is undecided.

She has expressed some interest in pursuing Pharmacy, which her mother and I know little about as a profession.

Are there any Pharmacists out there willing to share their perspective on their profession?

How is job satisfaction?

What is the outlook for the future?

What are "adjacent" fields of study to switch to if, during the course of study, she decides she doesn't like Pharmacy?

Thanks in advance.


I work with quite a few. A solid profession, especially in terms of need and job security.

I have seen a few of the pharmacists change to managerial roles because they found the day to day monotonous.
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Postby LadyGeek » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:23 pm

Why was she stressed out? Was it because she "only" got a B, or that she would not rather deal with chemistry?

If she likes the subject, she should continue with a backup plan - like chemical engineering. If she just puts up with the subject, as it's a means to get a good paying job, she should consider changing majors.

I "put up" with calculus because it was in my path to pursue engineering. The object was engineering, calculus courses were the means to get there.

I had a friend who tried being a chemistry major. He gave up after physical chemistry "P-Chem," as it was the hardest course he ever took. He transferred into computer engineering and was happy ever since.
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Postby BigPug » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:25 pm

awval999 wrote:Chemistry is pharmacy.

To be honest you need to love chemistry to do this.


I am also a pharmacist and agree with this. A lot of the early coursework seems like it's just there to pare down the class size, but it's really not. The principles from chemistry courses just keep coming up over and over. I still keep a few of my old textbooks handy at work.
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Postby Frobie » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:29 pm

I don't think you need to love/be great at chemistry to BE a pharmacist, but to BECOME a pharmacist is a different story. As already pointed out, there is a ton of chemistry, especially early in the curriculum.

Problem is, though, if she wanted to go to dental/medical/optometry/podiatry/vet school, she'd still have to go through general + organic + biochem at least. So if she's still thinking healthcare, not liking chemistry at all is going to significantly limit her options.

I don't use a lot of basic science chemistry on a day-to-day basis at my job as a pharmacist if that's what she's worried about. Seems like others on the board might, though.

Jeff
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Postby natureexplorer » Sat Sep 24, 2011 4:58 pm

I was told that the money is decent (6 figures entry salary), but that the jobs can be boring.
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Postby jridger2011 » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:02 pm

Frobie wrote:Sorry to be late to the thread. I can give you my perspective as someone who’s been in the clinical/hospital/academic side of the profession since 1994.

First, though, I should tell you that I hated retail. Hated hated hated hated retail. I did only what I had to do to get through school. I tell you this not because I think retail is bad for others if that’s what they like and want to do, but when most of the general public (and even most applicants to pharmacy school) think about pharmacists, their vision is limited to the person at the drugstore. There are tons of things you can do with a pharmacy degree beyond that.

The increased number of pharmacy schools (and increasing number of graduates from existing schools) is a real issue. As the market softens and more people are pursuing postgraduate (residency) training, it’s getting harder and harder to do 6 years and go out into a high-paying job. But there are still jobs out there, and even clinical (non-dispensing) jobs if you are willing to move around a little.

Pharmacy takes a MINIMUM of 6 years, but that’s a best-case scenario. Most of the students where I work have at least an undergraduate degree, and some even have more advanced degrees. Plus if you want to do something other than dispensing, it’s likely that an extra year or 2 of training will be necessary. So realistically, 8 or even 10 years is possible for folks who want to work in a specialized area.

Pharmacy can be as hands-on and interesting as you want it to be. I have not dispensed a prescription since ca. 1997 and have what I think is a pretty good practice and job. There are all sorts of opportunities—clinical, research, teaching, writing, etc.—in the profession that most people know nothing about. It has its frustrations just like anything else, but if someone wants to put in the work and be creative, it really is a great profession. But I wouldn’t count on being able to do “just” 6 years and going out into a stimulating, highly paid position anymore.

The first 2 years of school to become a pharmacist is pretty much the same as the other health professions, so I wouldn't be too worried about someone who's just starting college changing their mind.

Jeff


Have some family members in the profession who went in looking for job security, but the retail aspect of it is not for everyone. It is customer service, holding back feelings on what you think someone should/shouldn't get prescribed, and the retail hours. There are probably better opportunities beyond retail but that takes more education and research, it's not for the faint of heart due to the long education process.
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Postby Frobie » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:56 pm

LadyGeek wrote:Why was she stressed out? Was it because she "only" got a B, or that she would not rather deal with chemistry?

If she likes the subject, she should continue with a backup plan - like chemical engineering. If she just puts up with the subject, as it's a means to get a good paying job, she should consider changing majors.


I missed this before. Really good points IMO.
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Postby paulsiu » Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:52 pm

I have a friend who's a Pharmacist. It is a good solid career. It can get boring, and it can mean long hours, but it paids well and have a decent future.

The question is whether your daughter will like it. My friend indicate she likes the job enough, but if she win the lottery tomorrow she will not be returning to work.

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Postby word » Sun Sep 25, 2011 4:45 am

DW is a new pharmacist, having worked at a retail chain for 2.5 years now.

Regarding school: her program was incredibly high stress and sounds as if it was very similar to the one your daughter is currently in. It was similarly selective for initial enrollment and had a second acceptance required. Required GPAs for entrance into the PharmD program required somewhere north of 3.75 gpa along with an interview, essay, and other items.

If she doesn't like or get Chemistry, this ,probably isn't the best job for her. DW has a minor in chemistry without even trying to achieve one.

The most important bit about school? It got easier for her. This isn't to say that the program or content got easier after gen chem 1, but she adapted to know what was necessary to succeed. My wife is quite intelligent and never had to work too hard in high school, this meant she hadn't developed the necessary study skills and work ethic before college. Each semester after the first she was more capable of handling the requirements. Towards the end of the program she was still studying an immense amount, but no longer had the same stress level and was able to accomplish studying in less time.

Regarding the job: DW is a retail pharmacist, she likes her job very much. She enjoys working directly with patients. She found that retail pharmacy was more to her liking during the rotation phase of her schooling. The entire last year was a series of 1 month rotations at a number of different locations she worked at hospital pharmacies in Chicago and New York, a cumadin (sp?) clinic, and several retail settings. It was much to her and my surprise that she ended up disliking hospital pharmacy.

While she participated on rounds, most of her time was spent in the basement (apparently the location of many hospital pharmacies) remotely reviewing and updating patient chart. She never saw or spoke to many of those individuals. It is hard for me to express how surprising this was, we'd always imagined it would be the end job that she'd want.

Hope that helps. Tell your daughter not to get too down, it is a struggle at times, but a pretty good profession to be in. Starting retail salaries at a chain are typically 6 digits. If you're willing to work somewhere less desirable (outside a big city and it's suburbs) you can get paid more and it is less competitive.
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Postby R2 » Mon Sep 26, 2011 8:30 am

Thank you everyone for responding.

I talked with my daughter yesterday, and I believe that she is more stressed about not doing as well in her Chemistry class (the grades), than the content of the class. So the anxiety is primarily about doing well enough to remain in the program.

She also has not found or discovered anything that she finds more interesting or a better match.

So the plan is to stay the course for now.

I'll check in with her on this topic every few weeks to see how things are going. It is always difficult for her mother and I to get the same sense of how things are going, as my daughter tends to vent to her mom, and usually provides a more positive outlook to me.
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Postby jtundra » Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:06 pm

DH is currently in a pharmacy school in his P1 (first year professional study). He has a degree in biochemistry from a state university before entering the pharmacy school. He hasn't done the greatest in the biochemistry class this semester - got Bs for the every two week exams so far. Yesterday, I joked with him that I'd be quiet about your major in biochemistry:). But he wasn't alone. Other students are struggling too.

He also works halftime as a tech in a hospital. These days, without tons of work experiences, activities, leadership building, and good grades, a fresh pharmacy graduate can't find a retail/hospital job easily at all. With so many graduates, it can be difficult to find a residency too.
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Re: Pharmacy as Career Choice

Postby R2 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 1:46 pm

Hope you all don't mind if I revive this thread . . .

I appreciate all the previous insights, and have acted on some of the suggestions.

As an update, my daughter is now a sophomore and is interviewing to be admitted into pharmacy programs. She has completed most of the prerequisites for admission to the two primary programs in this area. She interviewed with the program at the university that she currently attends this morning and also interviewed at the state flagship university about two weeks ago. She has a reasonable chance of being admitted to both, which is the reason for my posting.

As mentioned earlier by others with direct experience, there are at least two tracks that can be taken as a pharmacist. Not being a pharmacist myself, I am following up my previous posts to get perspectives from other individuals with informed opinions.

Assuming my daughter is admitted to both programs, I would appreciate any perspectives on which option to pursue. Both my daughter and I believe that she is better suited to work in a hospital environment, but this is based on limited exposure to both retail and hospital environments. Last summer she worked at a retail pharmacy, but she has only spent a couple of hours shadowing a pharmacist in a hospital.

Here are the Options:

(1) Flagship University. I believe it to be a "top 5" pharmacy university based solely on web searches. It costs about $8k more per year. It is my general feeling that the "brand name" of this university should be sufficient to offset the cost (4X $8K = $32K). But this is not based only on gut feel. My thinking is that perhaps attending this university is less limiting on potential future careers, so it would be worth the cost difference. My daughter could live at home, if necessary (or desired), but my wife does not approve. The locality has an advantage to me because we will have three children(?) in college at the time she would complete her degree.

2) Other State Flagship University. Because of reciprocity agreements, the cost is less. It is a selective program, but not as highly regarded. It has the advantage that she currently attends this university, and it would be less of a transition. The location is ~150 miles from our home, and I suspect my daughter will want to be employed locally once she has completed her degree.

Opinions are welcome and appreciated!
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Re: Pharmacy as Career Choice

Postby coolguy954 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:55 am

R2 wrote:Hope you all don't mind if I revive this thread . . .

I appreciate all the previous insights, and have acted on some of the suggestions.

As an update, my daughter is now a sophomore and is interviewing to be admitted into pharmacy programs. She has completed most of the prerequisites for admission to the two primary programs in this area. She interviewed with the program at the university that she currently attends this morning and also interviewed at the state flagship university about two weeks ago. She has a reasonable chance of being admitted to both, which is the reason for my posting.

As mentioned earlier by others with direct experience, there are at least two tracks that can be taken as a pharmacist. Not being a pharmacist myself, I am following up my previous posts to get perspectives from other individuals with informed opinions.

Assuming my daughter is admitted to both programs, I would appreciate any perspectives on which option to pursue. Both my daughter and I believe that she is better suited to work in a hospital environment, but this is based on limited exposure to both retail and hospital environments. Last summer she worked at a retail pharmacy, but she has only spent a couple of hours shadowing a pharmacist in a hospital.

Here are the Options:

(1) Flagship University. I believe it to be a "top 5" pharmacy university based solely on web searches. It costs about $8k more per year. It is my general feeling that the "brand name" of this university should be sufficient to offset the cost (4X $8K = $32K). But this is not based only on gut feel. My thinking is that perhaps attending this university is less limiting on potential future careers, so it would be worth the cost difference. My daughter could live at home, if necessary (or desired), but my wife does not approve. The locality has an advantage to me because we will have three children(?) in college at the time she would complete her degree.

2) Other State Flagship University. Because of reciprocity agreements, the cost is less. It is a selective program, but not as highly regarded. It has the advantage that she currently attends this university, and it would be less of a transition. The location is ~150 miles from our home, and I suspect my daughter will want to be employed locally once she has completed her degree.

Opinions are welcome and appreciated!


Note I been a pharmacist for that past two years.

Every pharmacist gets the same degree any where they go. So the difference in going to a school is really not that important. As long as its not a newly opened school (20 years or less). Most connections are made during the last two years of pharmacy school when you more opportunities for internships and out of state rotations. Go to the lower cost school imo. Its more about dedication, grades, volunteering, and leadership positions that will separate you from the rest no matter what school you go to.

I went to a state university and came out makings over 100k with an addition 32k less in student loans :sharebeer
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Re: Pharmacy as Career Choice

Postby parsox » Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:53 pm

Note: Military pharmacist for 12 years.

1) Make sure the school is accredited. Many of the new schools are not.
2) The state of the pharmacy job market has definitely changed since I graduated. At that time retail jobs were abundant with signing bonuses.
3) The state of the profession in 6 more years is anybody's guess, especially with all of the new schools opening up and the market being saturated in many urban areas. (Be prepared to move to find a job)
4) Retail and hospital are vastly different.
a.)Retail pharmacy pays well but can be stressful and dealing with public is an art. My perception is that the public does not see retail pharmacists as the professionals they are (the big box store administrators/managers do not)
b.) Hospital pharmacy is starting to require a higher level of experience beyond the initial Pharm D, this means a PGY1 and PGY2 residency - board certification is always a plus.
5) http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forumdisplay.php?f=121 may provide a potential resource for additional information

/r
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Re: Pharmacy as Career Choice

Postby BackCoveIronman » Sun Mar 24, 2013 10:50 pm

Long time lurker making first post. I am a 35 year pharmacy veteran that has seen many changes. Cool guy and parsox are dead on pharmacy has changed expotentiatly since 2010. Your students first priority should be to be accepted into any accredited pharmacy school, the "quality" of the school does not matter. Her future will be determined by the future of healthcare and the economic realities of the future. While she is in school she should work in all areas of pharmacy being careful to pick the area she likes best. Once you have worked in an area for five years it will be hard to change.

Employment opportunities have reversed since 2010. The employers are now in the drivers seat. In my state there are more students than jobs with larger classes coming in two years and very few new locations opening. Forget that sign on bonus just be glad you have a job. Don't do this job for the money, times have changed.

I have worked retail for 35 years. Be prepared for 15 hour days and that the customer is always right. Check your ego at the door and you will be fine. I tell everyone to be ready to be able to compete an ironman every day, doing ironman is easier.

On the positive side I have helped many people over the years. I have saved lives, I have been there for people who were dying, I have made an intangible impression on a myriad of people, I have improved the quality of life in my little corner of the woods, and I have never taken advantage of anyone. I help those that want help and do what the others want me to do.

Pharmacy is what one makes of it. Good luck
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Re: Pharmacy as Career Choice

Postby awval999 » Sun Mar 24, 2013 11:09 pm

Note: I am a pharmacist.

I'm trying to think of how many states have two flagship schools--- I'm thinking it has to be Texas.

I would go to the cheaper school. As long as it is not one of those new schools. But since you said state flagship I'm thinking it's UT vs. Texas Tech and I'd say to go to TTU.

I am a hospital pharmacist. I would default on my loans before I would work a day in the hell that is retail pharmacy. But realize that 75% of jobs are in retail.

I enjoy my job. It's okay. I make good money. But after the loans it's just "okay" money. No complaints though. Be prepared to need a PGY-1 to get a hospital job. And be sure she wants to do this even if salaries go to $75k-$80k, or stagant in inflation adjusted terms.

We've had a bit of run up in inflation adjusted salaries. Ask one of the old timers what they made when they came out in the 1980's and use a CPI calculator. It's about ~$75k, not the ~$100k+ of today.

So yeah--- I can't rah-rah it. But its okay! If debt will be <$100k I'd say go for it. But expect to do a PGY-1. And don't expect to live in Dallas, Austin, SA or Houston. A lot of grads that have graduated since I've graduated have had to take "rural" hospitals.
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Re: Pharmacy as Career Choice

Postby R2 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:37 pm

Thanks all for providing the helpful responses.

To be more specific, the two schools are the University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University. Both are accredited. If the career goal is to be a hospital pharmacist, would the school choice matter?

I wasn't even aware that one could get a Pharmacy degree from a non-accredited school and work professionally.

The uncertainty mentioned in the profession is a concern, but that risk exists for many occupations. The U of Minnesota has a combined PharmD and MBA program that takes an extra year to complete. Would this reduce risk?
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