A potential pharmacist student commented on my blog here asking me if pharmacy was really that bad... he said he was reading blogs about the medical profession and all we do is gripe and complain. Got me to thinking this early morning about that question... "Is it that bad?" For me, no way it's not that bad or I would have already gone back to school to do something else. I believe it's human nature to complain some and especially to complain anonymously. Things about pharmacy that I have loved... This is a list probably needed to be completed to tell you guys and gals the GOOD stuff.
1. If you loved science and you loved biology in high school and college then pharmacy could be the career for you. Not only did I have the opportunity to learn about chemicals, etc..., but I learned the various ways they are changed, metabolized, and excreted by the human body. Not only that, but the different ways they can be broken down by DIFFERENT human bodies - some with renal issues, some with hepatic issues, etc... Everyone can be truly different. Drugs can react differently. I found this one single point of pharmacy to be quite fascinating.
2. If you want to graduate in 6-8 years and start out making six figures (potentially) this may be the job for you. I found in 1999 when I graduated that I was making close to six figures, but a lot of the older pharmacists were really ill about the new guys on the block because they knew we were making the exact same pay. It wasn't pay based on performance but LICENSURE. For the new guy, this is great; for the old guy, it can be disheartening to think that little youngin' next to you is bringing home the same bucks. I'm almost 10 years out of pharmacy school now (unbelievable time flies!) and it STILL DOES NOT BOTHER ME. I don't get wrapped up in petty stuff, and I figure if you really want a dollar more per hour, you could have negotiated up front. BE A SHARK when you negotiate - ASK FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE. If you do not ask, you will NOT RECEIVE. Vacation... they say we'll give you 3 weeks. Tell them that you want 4 weeks. Go up on pay by at least 5-10K per year. Why not? They want you and they will negotiate just like if you are selling a house.
3. Options other than retail. When I tell people I'm a "pharmacist," the majority think retail. What is great about pharmacy is that there are MANY MANY options in different jobs. Of course coming out of school, retail is the most lucrative in pay, but over time other positions can be just as tasty. There are the hospital pharmacists (me), the home infusion pharmacists, the nuclear pharmacists, the retail pharmacists, the professors in a pharmacy school, the long-term care pharmacist, the consultant pharmacist, and the specialty pharmacists within other settings. You can do a residency, make yourself a little different than Joe PharmD next to you, and land a Critical Care Specialty Pharmacist position at a big city hospital, make rounds with a physician that actually respects you if you know your shit and drink Starbucks coffee everyday leaving for home at 5pm like the rest with bankers' hours. The CHOICES ARE ENDLESS really.
I've been out of school, like I said, for 10 years almost. I have tried retail, home infusion, long-term care, and hospital. I love little bits of all of them... but I find hospital to be the most comfortable for me.
I would never tell someone to NOT pursue pharmacy. It's a great career for anyone... BUT you will find some complaining out there... even from me.
Blogs have to be funny after all, right?