After graduating from a 2-year program and earning my veterinary technician license, I wanted to continue my education in the hope of pursuing pharmaceutical research and working with laboratory animals. To save money on housing, I decided to be a commuter student and travel almost an hour in one direction to the nearest 4-year school offering a biology program.
During that time, I took on a part-time position working nights and weekends at a local community pharmacy—my first inside experience with pharmacy (other than picking up my own prescriptions). My experiences in this position were the driving force behind deciding to continue onto pharmacy school after receiving my bachelor’s degree.
I was elated when I applied to three programs and was accepted to each of them. Again, to save money on loans, I opted to attend the state school with high ratings and many positive reviews from graduates.
A difficult transition
I was blissfully unaware of the multitude of avenues that a PharmD degree could provide. Upon entrance to pharmacy school, my only experience came from the community setting. To say orientation weekend was overwhelming would be an understatement. It was made clear that if you did not outshine your peers, you might not match for residency (another thing I had no prior clue about) or even find a job after graduation.
I had worked hard during my undergraduate studies, so I thought graduate school would also be manageable! But then came the need to obtain leadership roles in organizations, do research or volunteer work in my free time, and work a job or two—all on top of my studies and personal life. And this wasn’t just graduate school; it was pharmacy school. The combination was difficult for me to transition into, and I never really did get the hang of it at that school. There was an unfortunate sense of competition starting from day one that I could not mesh with, and I felt behind from the beginning.
When one door closes …
Even though I had decided to step away from one pharmacy program, I was still determined to earn my PharmD degree. Luckily, I was accepted into a new state school, one that had just opened 2 years earlier and was gracious enough to offer me a scholarship. I went into the orientation weekend with so much more confidence and understanding of what is expected from a student pharmacist, and I felt prepared to make the absolute most of the second opportunity I was given to fulfill my career choice.
The journey may have been extended, but I am much better suited now to find my path among all the avenues in pharmacy.