Editor's Note: Graduation is Almost Here

Author: Fred Eckel, RPh, MS

Interviewing prospective students interested in pursuing a pharmacy degree is something I have done for a long time. When asked why they want to be a pharmacist, a frequent answer over the years has been “I love science, but I don’t want to be in a lab. I also want to help people. Pharmacy gives me that opportunity to combine these 2 interests.” More recently added to this reason is that “pharmacy offers so many different types of jobs/careers. Since I am not sure exactly where I want to work, pharmacy gives me a lot of career options.” These reasons are still true.

As you face the end of your training and the beginning of your career, the decisions you will be making in the near future will have long-term consequences. Should I do a residency? What’s the best first job for me as I become a practicing pharmacist? What state offers the best environment to practice pharmacy?

These are not easy questions to answer and decisions to make, but one piece of wisdom I’ve learned in my 50 years of being a pharmacist is that very few decisions we make in life are irreversible. They may slow down our progress, but they can be corrected. Our career can get back on track, and we can still make a contribution—and a difference. So, don’t be afraid to make these decisions and go where your path leads you. I have also learned, however, that trying to make the best decision is well worth the effort. Asking people you trust what they think you should do is very helpful, especially if that person is someone who knows you well. Often such a person can see a better career fit for us than we may see for ourselves.

As you enter the noble profession of pharmacy, my wish for you is that your career turns out to be more than what you left behind—my hope is that it turns out even better than the memories. And as you help advance our profession, as every student wave does, may you get out of pharmacy even more than you put into it. Don’t just take a job, start a career!