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If You Want to become a Pharmacist

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A Day in the Life of a Retail Pharmacist

Thinking about becoming a pharmacist? Don't worry about it. They make some really good drugs for that, and with years of counseling, there is still some hope for you. Many people wonder what we actually do. You have come to the right place. I have been doing retail pharmacy for nearly 20 years. I started as a technician typing out prescription labels on a typewriter. For those of you who do not know what a typewriter is...look it up. You had to hit the keys hard because we only typed on stone tablets way back then! I'm going to explain what we, as retail pharmacist's do.

Okay, so what do we do? First of all, by a "retail" pharmacist I mean the pharmacist (or druggist, or pill pusher, or whatever you prefer) who is typically working behind that long counter at your neighborhood CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc. The raised platform we stand on has nothing to do with a superiority complex. We aren't better than you. But we do need to be able to see what the teenager in the family planning aisle is trying to stuff in his coat pocket. You can also usually identify us by the white coat they make us wear (which is usually covered in stains from cough syrup, printer toner, and that meatball grinder I had to eat while standing up). We have chosen to work in retail, rather than in a hospital or other clinical setting because of a mild form of insanity for which shock therapy has not yet been successful. Yes, you can start feeling bad for us now.


One question I tend to get asked a lot is: How hard is pharmacy school?

That is a good question. Unfortunately there is no single answer that would apply to every person. I can tell you that personally I found Calculus (a class needed prior to pharmacy school) to be harder than pharmacy school itself.

How hard pharmacy school is will depend a lot on how easily science comes for you and on your ability to memorize. Feel free to ask me any specific questions you may have.

We went to school (go Huskies!). I know it doesn't seem like it, but we did. And it wasn't easy. Sleepless nights spent memorizing the pharmacokinetics of fluoxetine, the chemical structure of Klonopin, the 32 million drug interactions for Warfarin, the innumerable side of effects of virtually every drug we dispense, and, oh yeah, learning why you never, never, never want to overdose with Acetaminophen. Not pretty. Anyway, back to my point, we did go to school. Today pharmacy students typically graduate with what is called a PharmD. It takes 6 years to get it, unless you enroll in one of several accelerated suicide programs (like the one at which I taught for a couple years).

So what do we do? To put it very simply: We...

(1) prepare the medication for you...and then

(2) we prepare you for the medicine (or try to at least...).

That's over-simplified...but it moves us in the right direction.

Preparing the Medicine for You

Now, for the most part, we aren't "compounding" the medicine from scratch. We know how, and we could, but it isn't necessary too often any more. Although I have created some pretty cool compounds for kittens, tonics for turtles, and a variety of other concoctions for some curious critters. We compound for people too. But really, for the most part, we are overseeing the process which involves:

1) Properly interpreting your prescription. Yeah, that's no picnic. Ever tried to read one yourself? That is why pharmacists are the most trusted profession. You have to trust one else can read your doctor's handwriting! Apologies to any MD's reading this! But really, this is critical. While doing this we are assessing if the dose seems appropriate for the patient. People make mistakes, and so we are a "double check" on the system to try to ensure you get a safe dose of the right drug.

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2) Evaluating your prescription in the light of your other medication or conditions. The fancy little term for this is DUR (Drug Utilization Review). If this is the only drug you have ever taken....thank you! My job just got easier. But now its time to wake up and smell the coffee! The fact is most people are on several medications (or OTC drugs) from their doctor. Not to mention the fact that they got 1 from their general practitioner, 1 from their heart specialist, 2 from their endocrine doctor, another from the surgeon, and now 1 more from the ER doctor they just saw. Do you think all of the doctors get together over coffee at Starbucks and discuss if the meds they are prescribing for you are going to agree with each other? "What's that Doug? You gave her clarithromycin? Yeah, that'll be fine with the indomethacin I have her on. Now could you pass the sugar?" I don't think so. Sure, hopefully they ask what you have been taking, but maybe you forgot something or maybe they might be just a little bit busy and neglect to check the chart. Whatever the case, the pharmacist is responsible to ensure there are no significant drug interactions between medications you are currently taking. So, please, please, please try to get all of your medications filled at 1 pharmacy. If you do get something elsewhere, make sure you let your pharmacy know before filling a new prescription.

While I am on the subject, can I ask one other small favor? Please don't get mad when we ask for your date of birth (D.O.B.) when you drop off your prescription. We want to write it on the face of the prescription for a reason. We are trying to ensure we are putting this drug in the right patient's profile. We could look it up...but that defeats the purpose. If we hear it from you, then when we look it up we can MATCH it to the D.O.B. in our system. Imagine if we can't quite read your name on the script, OR imagine if another patient might just have a name similar to or identical to yours. If we put it under the wrong name, and that patient happens to come in to pick up something else, they could potentially end up with your medicine! That is very, very bad.

3) Verifying the final accuracy of the product. Thankfully...did you hear that all you wonderful pharmacy techs...thankfully we have some really great technicians these days who handle much of the actual counting, filling, labeling, answering phones, shredding confidential paperwork....I could go on. But before any medicine leaves the pharmacy your friendly neighborhood pharmacist must give it one final blessing. We ensure proper labeling, verify the directions, add any precautionary statements, include relevant paperwork, and a partridge in a pear tree. Ignore the pear tree joke, the fact is we actually take this very seriously.


Preparing You for Your Medicine

This is the fun part. Not that double counting your Oxycontin isn't thrilling; but really, it loses the excitement after a week or two. The fun part of this job for me is communication. I like to talk and I like to teach. So counseling my customers on how to get the most out of their medicine is what really puts the enteric coating on my to speak. Of course, the real challenge is to do this with a phone attached to my left ear, a prescription pad in my right hand, a customer asking me which aisle has the Cocoa Puffs, and a store manager reminding me to turn in my payroll figures for the week. Insanity? Yeah...but I love it. So be sure to ask us your questions...I'll be right with you once I finish un-jamming the paper shredder with my pocket knife (yeah...I really tried was a bad day).


If you are interested in applying to a pharmacy school, there are several websites that you need to acquaint yourself with. Go to these sites and begin to read and explore them. They contain a large amount of very important and relevant information about applying to pharmacy schools.

1) The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

2) The Pharmacy College Application Service

For a more "step by step" article on getting into pharmacy school, see my article HERE.

Article Resources:

Prescription written in 1903..sorry..too old to fill!


10 OTHER THINGS I DID TODAY (Just for fun):

1) 15 minutes on the phone with an insurance company explaining that Mrs. Smith's ferret really did eat her antidepressant pills, and that is why she needs them filled early. By the way, the ferret was fine...happier than ever.

2) 20 total minutes of phone calls trying to track down when and where a particular drug-abusing customer got their last narcotic prescription. Then calling the prescriber back and informing the office that they were just the latest stop on this guys shopping trip. Cancelling the prescription, and then enjoying the moment when I tell them exactly where and when they got their last prescription filled (which they neglected to tell me about). I love the "deer in the headlights" look while they are thinking "how did he find that out???". My little secret. I could tell you, but then I would have know.

3) Explaining to a well-meaning but misinformed customer that generic drugs really aren't just brand name drugs that people have returned or that have been collected from the deceased.

4) Patiently trying to help Mr. Jones understand that just because he is going to be taking his prescription for can still run out of refills and needs to be authorized by his doctor.

5) Tracking down and transferring back a prescription for a customer who initially filled her prescription here, but then transferred it out to a pharmacy in Florida, who informed me that it was subsequently transferred to Colorado, which then I discover was cancelled and transferred to a pharmacy in Connecticut, who informed me that she actually has run out of refills. Ugghh. I should have just called the doctor to begin with...

6) Trying to explain to a new customer why we really need their insurance card, and the fact that it is "Blue Cross...or something like that...and I pay $5.00" really isn't quite enough information to go on.

7) Looking through a customer's profile that needs me to refill his "small, sort of yellow looking pill that he takes in the morning with his eggs and toast".

8) Explaining, for maybe the 20th time today, why we have to get a signature when the prescription is picked up, why it took 20 minutes since "we just have to put the pills in a bottle", and that I really don't know why they are out of ‘tickle-me-elmo's'.

9) Telling a hospital resident that, yeah, you can't really put 10 refills on a Percocet prescription.

10) Sympathizing with my complaining technician about the fact that she is the only one who does any work around this place, the other techs all being too lazy to file the scripts from the night before. if you still want to be a pharmacist...awesome! I wish you all the best. It is a rewarding and challenging career. It will often drive you crazy...and I wouldn't have it any other way.



j.k on May 15, 2015:

I am middled class inn studies I do not no what career to choose but I selected whether I have capacity to take this coarses? My family members are scolding me for this choice what. I do help me?

Jason on March 20, 2015:

Becoming a pharmacist can be very competitive. There are plenty of other health related careers to consider though. Sites like can provide some more insights into requirements and potential salary.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 02, 2014:

Hi Gabby,

Getting into pharmacy school is very competitive these days - with limited class sizes. You will need to put all your efforts into getting VERY good grades. You can do it! But you have to plan to make the sacrifices necessary to excel.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 02, 2014:


With respect to a Christian college of pharmacy - here is my opinion: a degree is a degree. Definitely do your research on the "candidate status" issue. When will that likely change?

But here is another thought - why pharmacy? I strongly urge you to consider all possible medical career paths - particularly those that have a stronger job market right now. A lot of pharmacists are out of work right now, and there are no jobs, and the market is getting worse by the year. Email me and we can chat some more!

Gabby on May 19, 2014:

Hi pharmacist, your blog was great and hilarious (I giggled reading it through)-I want to become a pharmacist, something I decided during earlier this year. I just graduated in CA with a Sociology major but I plan on taking my pre reqs for pharmacy school at an accelerated program of sciences. Will I struggle with all science courses? I haven't taken any science courses since my sophomore year in high school can say that I was not very good at it. After passing the PTCB and in the process of getting my pharm tech license I just started working at a small independent pharmacy in my community and its been very scary, but the good scary if you know what I mean. My confidence to want to become one has been growing gradually and I would like to hear from you your thoughts of how difficult do you think it will be for me to obtain a decent grade while taking the pre reqs at an accelerated program (each course is like a month long only!) as well as pharm school considering that I have no foundation in the field of science. Thank you and hope to hear from you soon.

J on May 05, 2014:

Hi Pharmacist!

Well here's another high school student begging for advice :) ... but wait... I think I may be a bit different, as I haven't seen any comments about this topic yet.

I have my heart set on pharmacy, after shadowing pharmacists and talking to pharmacy students. I am on the road to be a tech, I am not quite old enough yet (17). In case you are wondering, I have a very rigorous high school schedule from freshman-junior year, including 11 APs and various pseo coures like organic chem and biochem. (I get A's in these classes... well... maybe not AP Physics)

After reading around your Hub I have found out that you are a Christian. So here's my dilemma. I am a Christian. I really would like to go to a Christian school... and hey, why not a Christian pharmacy school! There are a handful of them, and I have narrowed it down to three: West Palm Beach Atlantic (FL), Union University (TN), and Cedarville University (OH).

I am especially interested in Cedarville, as it has a 7-year "right out of high school" program. The overall university fits me, as I found out after visiting. It's in a tiny town, and has an outstanding reputation. Here's the problem with Cedarville: it's not fully accredited (Pharmacy-wise). It has "candidate status". They say that this should have no effect... Is this a problem I should be worried about?

And I suppose my main concern is if I should even consider a Christian pharmacy school at all. Should I go for the supposedly better University program, even though I would like to have a Christ-centered program?

Well, thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day!


fnalamdo on January 30, 2014:

Dear Pharmacist!

which one easier Pharmacy or Dentistry?

Diego Gaytan on January 14, 2014:

Dear Mr. Pharmacist,

I am currently a community college student. I have been going to college for a while now. on and off. Alot t of my classes are all mixed up, and have changed my major several times. Mechanical engineering to Pre-Pharmacy now. Do you think a couple of misdemeanors will affect my career down the line? Should i consider going back to my original major?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on December 22, 2013:

Hey Frank,

It's been a while. How have you been?

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on December 22, 2013:

wishing you and ur family a very happy holiday

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on December 10, 2013:


You can also find me at

fateascemia on November 19, 2013:

You've got a highly insightful webpage. Have you many more content or internet websites I could maybe look at? I adore the read.


Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on September 08, 2013:

These are the books to read:

shekyjade on September 06, 2013:

hello..good day. I'm a second year pharmacy student here in Philippines, and we have this project, a documentary about 'future of Filipino Pharmacist here in Philippines' but I still don't have a fix title for it..

anyone here who can give me some idea?thank you very much :)

God Bless

bini12 on August 14, 2013:

Dear pharmacist!!

I am a high school student, and i like chemistry, math, psychology...etc , but i don't like biology, don't even know why' ... the are words in biology so hard to pronunciation, or spell them , is there any best way that you know to learn biology easily? and and also am not a language guy, is launguage very important on being a pharmacist ? and i like physics very much but i chose psychology instead of physics, thought i may not need physics to become a pharmacist. ..... but am not sure if i made the right decision... which one is good for pharmacist?

additionaly is there any books that i can read from library that can help me on being a PHARMACIST ..... cause i want to start focusing from now

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 15, 2013:

Think long and hard about it. When I wrote this article several years back...things were better. Check out this article:

Jessica Finney on July 15, 2013:

So, I'm a senior... in high school, and I'm wanting to be a pharmacist. I know it takes a lot of work, so I want to get started now. I'm 17 and I was wondering what someone my age could do in a pharmacy to increase the chances of being successful. Any advice?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 04, 2013:

Hi howtobecomeacrna, thanks for the comment. Nope - no special class in handwriting reading. You get to know the writing of the MD's you fill for regularly. It gets tough when it is someone you don't know. Best wishes! on July 02, 2013:

True. You are one of the most trusted person we could ever have. A doctors handwriting is difficult to figure out. Aside from memorizing the pharmacokinetics of the medicines, were you taught how to read doctor's handwriting? Just curious.. Anyway, I personally read the doctor's prescription first in front of him/her just to make sure I read it right. Not that I don't trust the pharmacist but I feel that it is my responsibility as well to verify what's on the Rx list.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 10, 2013:


I hope someone can answer. I'm not an expert on non-U.S.A. pharmacy school requirements.

Sindhuja on June 03, 2013:

My sister have completed her 10th std she wants to do her b-pharm in future so what group she has to take in her 11th std can any one suggest me an idea?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on March 13, 2013:


Great questions, and I hope by asking them here, someone with more insight might see them and be more help. In the U.S. most students prepare for pharmacy school with an undergraduate degree in Biology or Chemistry. The U.S. has some affordable pharmacy schools for those who live in that state, but I don't know about international rates. Best wishes!

Aman Habtom on March 07, 2013:

Dear Pharmacist agian!

First of all i would like to thank you for geting me time to answer my question and am really glad that i found this website its really helpful. I can learn where ever country i want after IB ( International Baccalaureate) and i havn't decided yet. This year is my last year of IB high school. but i heard that Poland is good for Pharmacy and its cheap, is that TRUE ? or do you know a country that is good for pharmacy and cheap to live there for rent and for the school?

but i would be glad too if you answer me about the subjects that i have chosen and and on what subjects do i have to focus more, does english subject play a great role on being pharmacist?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on March 06, 2013:

Dear Aman,

Thanks for your question. Unfortunately I am not familiar with the training and licensing process for pharmacists in Sweden. I would recommend talking with a local pharmacist and finding out about the process their. Best wishes!

Aman Habtom on March 06, 2013:

Dear pharmacist !

I am an IB student in Sweden and and i have chosen chemistry standard level , biology high level, pshycology highlevel, math standard level and they forced me to take English litreture since my mother tongue is Tgrina and they dont have it. so Iam not that good at english i like math and chemistrythey are my favorite subject , and the reason that i chose math & chemistry standard level is because the school that i am learning doesn't has math & chemistry high level, but I am wondering is there any problem of taking those standards levels with being pharmasict. those who take Highlevel chemistry and maths in other school IB and and those like myself who take standard level in chemistry & math what is the difference ? do they be learn more than us ? or what ?

and as i mentioned above english is not my mother tongue , is it important to have a good grade in english subject? because i didn't want to take english litrature they just forced me. and any suggesting in improving my english?

please help me i came from poor country (Eritrea) and i get the oppotunity to learn here for free and am working really hard to become a pharmacist and help my family.

SoMany Blessings from USA on January 04, 2013:

Awesome hub, thank you for the informative article. I am sure many students looking to do pharmacy will love your feedback and opinions. The general public also needs to be aware of what a pharmacist is and what they do. I urge everyone to support your pharmacist by signing the petition on at:

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on December 17, 2012:

Hi Barney,

Well, as I often say, you don't need to "love" chemistry to be a good pharmacist. You have to be able to master its concepts - but that doesn't necessarily mean liking it. Biology is great, and will also help. Drugs, diseases, patients - these are the things you need to "like" if pharmacy is going to be personally rewarding for you. Best wishes.

Barney on December 15, 2012:


Really enjoyed the blog. Just want to ask if is it okay to pursue pharmacy as I'm a big fan of biology in stead of chemistry. Not to say my chemistry is bad but im worried if ill lose interest in it. Pls reply :)

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on November 24, 2012:

Hi Hope,

Thank you for the kind words.

First, I'm thinking you are living in the UK - in which case my insight into the pharmaceutical education process is very limited. I definitely recommend working closely with a university advisor.

Second - It could be said that what we actually do in retail is simple - DOING it is the hard part. A surgeon will tell you that a hernia operation is simple. But if he had to do it on the deck of a small boat in the middle of an ocean during a storm - in the dark - well, I think you get the point. The atmosphere and context of modern retail pharmacy is very challenging - especially for pharmacists who refuse to settle for the status quo.

Best wishes.

Hope on November 24, 2012:


I realy enjoyed this blog, thanks for the insight!x I do want to be retail pharamcist however, i'm unsure about somethings, so below are some questions.

Firstly, I do bio, chemistry, maths and business in my a levels and i'm looking to frop maths, Woild that affect my chances of soing a pharamcy course in UNI?

Secondly, My fundemental veiw on retail pharmacy was dispensinf medecine and overseeing what the doctor does, i don't mean to sound naive but it does seem fairly straight foward. Is it, or am i being naive? Aha.

Thanks in advance.Xx

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on November 19, 2012:


Well, further education is never a waste of time - even if you could "pass" the test without it. No, you won't need it to go on to Pharmacy school, but it won't hurt either. If you are yet unsure, I would keep on with this tech course as you have started. Go for it!

eddiek01 on November 16, 2012:

Thank you so much for the article! It's very informative I've been trying to decide whether or not being a Pharmacist is the right thing for me to do! I have just enrolled in a 2 year Pharmacy Tech program with an Associate in Applied Science! Is it a waste of time to go to school for that if I can become a certified Pharmacy Tech by taking the test? Or would this 2 year program be required if I decide to go to Pharmacy school?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on November 02, 2012:


Good thoughts. In my experience, personality plays a major role in determining where a pharmacist will be most satisfied and do the most good. Retail pharmacists are clinical pharmacists...on the front lines! LOL. It is not for the weak of heart. But whatever you it with all your might. Best wishes.

daddinthed on November 02, 2012:

Hi Dr. Jason. I enjoyed your fun filled description. I was happy to read about being a pharmacist especiallyva retail pharmacists since I run into so many articles with notthing but miserable pharmacists including students who are saying change majors get a back up plan and somecare 3 and 4th year. A lot of this has to do with bashing retail and the corporate demanding them to pump out more scripts with less help and insurance and pharmacy benifit management companies. Basically a lot of whining. Also complaining about lack of jobs. Schools oversupplying the demand. What I dont get is they all look at retail as being the plague that only the less qualified pharmacist would get stuck doing that and that hospital or clinical and doing residency is thecway to go.and that retail pharmacists risk being replaced by techs and automation and mailorder and pbms and insurance will push to eliminate pharmacist verifications thereefor making them pharmacists obsolete. It seems to me pharmacists are fagmented among their own and not cohesive like physicians oreven nurses and have AMA and unions. I actually want to be a retail since I want to deal with the public and more patient interaction rather than be stuck in ahospital basement making up iv bags all day. So I dont get the snobbish ness of the clinical pharmsicists. Sure some I guesome make rounds on occasion with physicians for consults but it also seems like a lot of physicians dont see pharmds as equals at least in retail dont have to deal with doctors dictating to you in fact almost the opposite from what ive gathered my local pharm caught errors made generic chanes without doctor or I should say physician. Can you give me your candid take on this. I mean is everyone going to do a residency now. Are there really that many clinnical jobs after you added 2 more years and if Iwanted that much patient treatment why not just go to med school. Even if I end up being Rho Chi and 3.9 plus then whats wrong with me going into retail we are all pharmds doing a different route what makes us think one is better or above the other and not that money matters but it seems like retail still pays a tad more at least for most staff positions but im guessing large retail has supervisor and other positions includingbheir own otc and drug lines if you want to go that route please give me your candid insulights of where retail is headed as i hate to go down the wrong path and will aquire a lot of student debt. Ianlm as evertlyone else a 4.0 honor srudent in 12 th grade have 7 ap classes and 12 college credit hours in calc bio and chem and do 3 sports and several volunteer activities. I love chem.i love helping people. I dont like blood and gutsi love hands on lab experiments.v not so mthat much.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on October 20, 2012:

Hi Hey,

I'm assuming you are not practicing in the U.S. I'm afraid I don't have a lot of knowledge on pharmacy careers outside the States. You could check out the careers resources I put up on my other site:

Hey on October 19, 2012:

I am a pharmacist working in a gov hospital.. I would like to continue my MPharm. I am interested in outpatient department pharmacy..It that good to continue in Pharmacy Practice...? Whats ur opinion? Looking forward for it...

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on September 15, 2012:


Best thing you can do is just to utilize the study books and prep courses that are available. Much is based upon your general "cramming" isn't really possible. But being prepared is. So go through the prep guides that are commercially available if you can. Best wishes.

Sabrina on September 13, 2012:

I wanted to know how difficult the PCAT test was and what are the best ways to study? What areas to focus on mainly? Please let me know and thanks!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on August 25, 2012:

Hi Mac,

Retail pharmacists typically work 40-45 hours per week, so that leaves time for family. However, you have to understand that "retail" often means working a weekend rotation, some nights, some holidays. Most careers in health care are going to require those types of sacrifices. But I have done it, and so have many others. And it beats working 60-70 hours per week at a lower paying job...trying to make ends meet.

Mac on August 22, 2012:

I was interested in Pharmacy because i figured it is a job where i can spend alot of time with my family. Becuase i have a bunch of uncles that are accountants, financial analysts and lawyers that spend like 10 hours in the office Monday through friday plus an exta two hours for travel time. So my cousins cant really see them until when they go to sleep. Plus on sunday and saturday my uncles are still busy they are in their small office rooms in their house doing extra work(i guess homework?) but yeahh i dont want a career that takes away time from my family. I want to work to live not live to work. I was thinking about a career in public education since they get summers off but the income is low. So in pharmacy will i get time to chill with my family?

Sharmie on August 22, 2012:


I love your article :-) You are very right that Pharmacists are the most trusted profession. Reading Doctor's prescription is very hard yet very fulfilling. And what I love the most is that we, pharmacists has knowledge on what happens on the drug once it enters the body. The LADME. The Drug interaction's, the ADR's.. No one can ever explain it but us. :-)

Pharmacy is indeed a good course.

By the way, I just passed the Pharmacy Licensure Examination last July here in the Philippines.

Hail to the Pharmacists!

chris on August 14, 2012:

i knew it was not a requirement, but i did some research and realized that it would boost my resume while i earned money. It would also help me get a letter of recommendation for the application.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on August 09, 2012:

William Gomez,

The answer I always give is this: Pick up a book on memorization or memory improvement. Best investment in your education you will ever make.

William Gomez from Fullerton, California on August 07, 2012:


So i been putting some thought into this & i decided i wanted to be a pharamacist. I graduated high school this year,grades weren't so great though. What should i start reading to help me prepare for this in college?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on August 06, 2012:

Chris, having a job in a pharmacy is not typically a requirement in order to get into pharmacy school. Other qualifications are very important - grades, activities, PCAT. Were you told you had to have such a job to get in?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on August 06, 2012:


Overall there are fewer hospital jobs, but a qualified candidate can still find a good hospital job - you just may have to be willing to relocate to get it.

chris on August 04, 2012:

i have had no luck landing a job in a pharmacy. what are some other jobs that provide the same experience and will help me get into pharmacy school?

Vasool on August 04, 2012:

Dear Pharmacist: I am more interested in hospital pharmacy than retail pharmacy. May I know if it is extremely hard to get a job in hospital pharmacy compared to retail pharmacy? I would be most grateful if you could enlighten me on this issue. Thanks for your time and help!

Vasool on August 01, 2012:

Dear Pharmacist: Thanks a lot for your encouragement! So, I will continue taking my pre-reqs and ace the PCAT next January. Hope everything will workout fine for me.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on August 01, 2012:


Saturation issues and rumors will always be a concern. In my opinion, the problems are geographical at the moment. Some states, like Massachusetts, are getting saturated. I don't recommend going to school there. But other states are not like this. It depends on the number of pharmacy schools in the state. An EASY solution is to get licensed in MULTIPLE states (I have 4 state licenses). Then you have more options. Don't let the saturation issue stop you. Just my opinion.

Vasool on July 31, 2012:

Your article is very insightful. I am considering a career in pharmacy, and I would really appreciate if you could help me make a decision. I have a Master's degree in agri sciences, but I want to switch careers. I love chemistry and medical science, so I chose to pursue Pharmacy. I volunteered at an independent pharmacy and also a hospital pharmacy and I like the profession. I am also doing pretty well in chemistry and other pre-requisite courses. But lately, I have been reading in some of the internet forums that pharmacy is getting saturated and new graduates would find it extremely hard to find a job. I am a 35+ years old man and at times I feel discouraged because of my age and the “Saturation” rumors. In your opinion is it worth pursuing pharmacy given my advanced age and the future job prospects of pharmacy? I would be very grateful if you could enlighten me on all these so that I can take an informed decision.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 24, 2012:


Congratulations. Since many pharmacists work 12 hour days - it is possible (by swapping shifts and working several extra shifts here and there) to get a nice string of days off if you plan it well. Thus, while vacation time may be limited, the 12 hour shift can be used to your advantage for travel. Best wishes!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 23, 2012:


Many PharmD programs allow for residencies with specific areas of interest.

solo25 on July 23, 2012:

Hi! Good article!!

I'm about to become a pharmacist in Maine... just need to pass that law exam. haha

I still don't know if I pick the right career choice, but I'll give it a try.

I always wanted to travel a lot.. would a retail pharmacist ever have time to travel??

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 16, 2012:


Deeply sorry for your loss. As for your age, no, it is not too old in my opinion. However, there are lots of other questions to sort through when making a choice like this in life. Will you have the time for 6 years of study? Financial support? There are many great careers in medical fields that you could pursue. Have you thought about being a pharmacy tech? Just throwing ideas out. If you want to email me with more details, I will try to be more helpful.

cici11 on July 15, 2012:

Great article!!! I'm 19 and I was thinking of becoming a pharamcist. I feel my spend my first year of college focused on the wrong career. Mosty, because I thought I wouldn't good at math and science like I was in high school. Anyway, I'm really good math, biology, and chemisty. I'm confuse about what career plan I should take. I was thinking about pharamcist or pathologists. Do you have any career advice for me? Is there away I can become and pharamcist and specialize in pathology? Or vice versa?

Jenny on July 14, 2012:

Hi, I am 36 years old. I always wanted to be a pharmacist, but had 8 beautiful children, (lost my son in may) and just concentrated on being a mom. I was wondering do you you think I am to old to start? And if you do not, what classes and what should I do to begin? I am in California, and I am so confused!:(


Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 13, 2012:


What you describe sounds like a typical nail-fungus infection, but a proper diagnosis is important, especially since other conditions can complicate this (e.g. diabetes). Treatment options are 1) OTC products (find them in the foot care section of the pharmacy) 2) Prescription topical products (like Penlac) and 3) Prescription oral tablets (e.g. Lamisil). The OTC products are close to worthless in my opinion. They take a long time to work, and even then have pretty unimpressive results. Best wishes.

mm19 on July 12, 2012:

it's on my toe symptoms just my nail is yellow and once I cut it did not grow back the same and I got prescribed medication but had an allergic reaction to it so I don't know what to do now. Help me please.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 12, 2012:

Hi mm19,

Please provide a few more details. Where is the fungal infection? Symptoms? Why do you believe it is fungal? Have you tried anything yet? Thanks!

mm19 on July 12, 2012:

hello I wanted to know your best opinion in medication to treat fungus please

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on July 02, 2012:


Nursing and pharmacy are very different careers, though both "medical." You need to think about which you prefer, rather than just the financial aspects. Both can earn good money. If you like direct patient care...go nursing. As for the "tough" aspects, learn how to study and memorize (get a book on memorization techniques). Best wishes.

Justin L on June 26, 2012:


I just graduated and am seriously considering pursing a career in pharmaceutical sciences. However, I am lacking math and physics 12, and therefore have to upgrade. Do you think it is worth it? An alternate option with what i have to is to go into nursing which pays quite well too, although not nearly as high as a pharmacist.

Also, any tips to get you through school when the going gets tough?


Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 20, 2012:


Sorry, just having some fun. But seriously, I'm happy to answer your question if you give me some more details. Sincerely...

Sarah Tolentino Paclar on June 20, 2012:


I didn't say what to use for building a Pharmacy. I'm having a hard time taking courses like this. soooo stressful! but I kinda like it. I hope I can graduate B.S. Pharmacy soon.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 19, 2012:


Thanks for the kind words. Shoot me an email and I'll send you the check like I promised. LOL. Actually, most folks don't really understand what we do. Pharmacists are front-line healthcare providers - the most accessible of any medical profession in the U.S. But I don't typically waste time trying to prove my value to folks. We just do it. We go the extra mile, protect our patients and do it all in the hardest environment imaginable. keep up the good work.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 19, 2012:


Don't worry about your voice or height. As for volunteer work, opportunities may be limited. Get a job someplace that will eventually let you move into the pharmacy department. Best wishes!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 19, 2012:

Great Article,

Bottom line: You need to go for it then. Stop the pursuit of the associates degree and go for the pre-requisites. Get them done, and whatever else you need, and apply to pharmacy school. Don't look back. Jump in with both feet. That's my advice.

Iris on June 18, 2012:

Hello Sir! First of all, I need you to know that I think YOU are awesome, because of this article and because of the fact that you take the time to thoroughly respond to all of these questions. I have so much respect for you!(: Alright, so I'm currently in the pre-pharmacy path and whenever someone asks me what I want to be, they always respond with "you wanna count pills for a living?" type of answer; so I've developed this notion that pharmacy is a neglected field of health care in a sense that people aren't aware of how much hard work they go through. I was curious to see if you felt the same way about this? And from a pharmacist's perspective, I wanted to know what YOU think being a pharmacist entails? Have you ever met these people with common misconceptions about what you do? and what would you/do you tell those people?

Kerri on June 17, 2012:

I will be a sophomore in high school this year and I want to be a pharmacist. I had a 4.00 last year my only fear is that I'm not a very social person unless I know you well. I have a mousy voice and I'm short so I fear that people won't respect me as much.

Also I have been wanting to get a job or volunteer do you have any thoughts about where I should work or volunteer that will give me good experience and so I can decide if a pharmacist's life is for me??

Great article/blog (tuning in from PA) on June 14, 2012:

I just typed a lot but my trusty laptop has a mind of it's own at times and erased all I wrote so I will try to make this brief.

I'm 29 years old in 07 I became a certified pharm tech through a technical program. Since then I have worked in behavioral health, retail pharmacy and LTC/Hospice. Next year I will get an associates in science (healthcare technology). Heres my issue. I'm now getting that overwhelming feeling of ambition and success that I think I want to go forward with getting my PharmD but the degree I will get does not cover the prerequisite requirements to transfer to a pharmacy school in my area.

What might you suggest I do?

What I dont want to do is go forward with a BA/BS and still have to put another 4 years into pharmacy school.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on June 06, 2012:

I recommend building with steel. Wood is expensive. And steel goes up quick. Sorry. Not sure what you mean.

Sarah Tolentino Paclar on June 06, 2012:

Good day sir.

Can I have some advice about building "my own" pharmacy? Do I need to study drugs also? How long will it takes to build a pharmacy? I'm kinda confused, I mean I never dream this course but my dad forced me. I hope I will like it.

worldjohn on May 26, 2012:

Nice and informative hubpage created by pharmacist, As I also want to become a pharmacist but I was confused how will I start my career in pharmacy? This article is really great guidelines for me as after reading this whole article I came to know about the pharmacists jobs and steps of choosing top pharmacists training.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 22, 2012:

High School,

I recommend reading my other article:

HighSchoolStudent on May 22, 2012:

How, dear pharmacist, are the hours? They're not 7 days a week work hours are they?

Confused Cat on May 21, 2012:

Thank you Pharmacist!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 21, 2012:

Confused Cat,

Your job, for the most part, is "medicine/patient" focused. Not so much "disease/diagnosis/patient" focused. It is a different angle. It can be very rewarding though. Best wishes.

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 21, 2012:


A pharmacy tech is a great career. If however, you want to be a pharmacist, that is certainly worth considering. As the pharmacist you will have a greater amount of accountability and responsibility. You will often need to manage people and manage the business side of things. Your hours may be different, and the flexibility might not be great. However...if that interests you...then you would probably still like your job. Best wishes.

Confused Cat on May 21, 2012:

Dear Pharmacist,

Thankyou for your advice! Just feeling really dejected because I was rejected from medicine. :( I read up about pharmacy and realised its still a great course to take since I can still use what I learn to help others. However, is a pharmacist's job really more limited than a doctor considering pharmacists can only work with drugs? Doctors seem to have a wider ranger of expertise.

Joanna on May 20, 2012:

I'm currently a pharmacy Tech. I had no plans of becoming a Pharmacist until my Pharmacist pulled me aside and talked to me. "You're already doing it, but if you are a Pharmacist you get paid much more than you are getting now." I really like being a pharmacy tech and according to the Pharmacist, i'm good. Would you say that if I like being a pharmacy tech, being a Pharmacist would be similar? Meaning, would I still like my job?

student on May 16, 2012:


i like pharmacy very nice, and interesting."(

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 14, 2012:

Confused Cat,

I tell people this: You don't have to "love" chemistry or even excel at it. You must be able to learn the study skills needed to pass these classes. That said, if you are not sure you will enjoy pharmacy as such, then you need to explore all your options. But don't let concerns over chemistry keep you back.

Confused Cat on May 13, 2012:

Dear Pharmacist,

Thank you for the insightful article! However, I am still confused about making pharmacy as a career choice. I recently graduated from high school and was offered a place to do pharmacy in my local university. However, in high school, I did a lot better in biology, even becoming the top student there while I had to struggle to get my organic chemistry concepts right. Will pharmacy still be a good choice for me?


Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 08, 2012:


Clearly you have adapted to the challenges of study while caring for your baby. College will involve a bit more time. But if you have the support structure in place to allow you the time for the classroom work, then I think you can do it. It will be tough. But everything worthwhile takes effort. Being a parent is a longer commitment than school...and you are already doing that, right? Take 1 day at a time, and keep you eye on the goal. Best wishes.

Diamond B on May 08, 2012:

Hi pharmacist,

I am 19 and just graduating high school, it took an extra year because I got pregnant. I got accepted into a pre-pharmacy program at a local university. I always had an interest in science and I work as a tech at a CVS. I have been in cyber school for two years and I am beyond nervous and scared to actually be in a classroom again for college. I'm getting cold feet because I know it's a lot of work and I'm doubting myself like crazy. Any advice on calming the nerves? This is something I really want to do and the pharmacist I work with balanced a baby and college too, but I'm still getting cold feet. Even considered waiting a year. Any advice?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 07, 2012:


Pick up any drug reference book that is intended for consumers. Will it be technical? No. But a good pharmacist must know what his/her patients are reading and where they are coming from. Go to WebMD and read about the drugs there. Read online magazines like Drug Topics or Drug Store news. Immerse yourself in the field. Best wishes.

Jose G on May 05, 2012:

Fantastic!!! thank you Pharmacist, i really do appreciate it, would there be a book you recomend right after reading the one you just gave me?

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 04, 2012:


I tell prospective students to read a good book on memory techniques. Any book will do. Also, if you want to read something pharmaceutical, read the following. It isn't too long, and it is a bit dated. But if you do, you will know more about the pharmaceutical industry than most PharmD graduates.

Jose G. on May 04, 2012:

Dear pharmacist

Was wondering if you can recomend a good book, for dummies or what not. want to know some basics before deciding to going into the field. thanks.

Jamie on May 04, 2012:

Thank you. Ths was very informative (and entertaining) for someone who has just recently decided to take that leap. Probably some of the best info I've gathered yet!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 04, 2012:


I am not aware of a law that would forbid someone with an otherwise clean record, but 1 misdemeanor, from getting licensed. You could always email your state board of pharmacy for clarification. Another resource would be the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Finally, every state has an "pharmacists association" (e.g. Massachusetts Pharmacists Association). They might be helpful. Best wishes!

NM3 on May 03, 2012:

Hello, My question is , I would love to pursue a career in pharmacy, although, I do have a misdemeanor from 2009, I was 18. I'm 21 years old now. Can i still be a pharmacist with my misdemeanor? or should i just move on with something else...

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 02, 2012:


I'm afraid I don't have much experience in the hospital realm. Sorry!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 02, 2012:


Memorization is mostly just learning several techniques. Pick up any paperback book on "memorization" or "memory improvement" at your local bookstore and read it over the summer. You will be surprised how easy it is once you have learned a few tricks.

Maria Lyn Sorilla on May 02, 2012:

hi, i'm on my 4th year as a BS-PH student here in the Phil. can you compare the workload of a hospital pharmacist between a government and a private hospital pharmacy? which is better? why?

Thanks in advance and more power.

ms. second courser

Heather on May 02, 2012:

Hi Pharmacist:

I enjoyed your article. I am interested in becoming a pharmacist, however I fear one thing very much so. The NAMES! Long words that I can't say scare me enough, but how do you keep all those words categorized? How did you study in college?

Thank you!


Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 01, 2012:


Take an active interest in the success of any company you interview for. Be a team player. Go in understanding pharmacy is BOTH a business and a medical profession. Be kind and courteous and humble. Smile. Make eye contact. Shake with a firm hand. There you go!

Jason Poquette (author) from Whitinsville, MA on May 01, 2012:


Great question. Wish I had room to give a fuller reply. Our challenge, in my opinion, is to find ways to offer services that provide value and help reduce the overall cost of healthcare. MTM services are an example. There are many other challenges too, speaking from the "retail" pharmacy perspective. My advice to retail pharmacists is this: view yourself as a practitioner, customers are patients, their health is your goal. This takes creativity and determination in our busy retail lives. But even small steps are still steps. As the joke goes: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

chris on April 29, 2012:

any tips on landing that first job in a pharmacy?

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