Alex Barker, PharmD
Alex Barker is the founder of The Happy PharmD, which helps pharmacists create an inspiring career, break free from the mundane "pill-flipping" life. He is a Full-time Pharmacist, Media Company founder, franchise owner, Business Coach, Speaker, and Author. He's also the Founder of Pharmacy School HQ, which helps students get into pharmacy school and become residents.
The life of a typical pharmacy student isn’t easy.
Despite the grueling workload and schedule, my years as a pharmacy student were some of the best of my life. It’s when I met my future wife and made the strongest friendships I've ever had. Nevertheless, I'm glad those years are behind me.
Here’s what a typical day in pharmacy school looked like for me, from your point of view:
The alarm goes off for the fourth time. It’s 7:15 AM.
As you stretch your arms and legs, you feel a sense of fatigue. You look at your clock for the last time and convince yourself to get up.
As you rub your eyes, you remember the last thing you did last night: studying until 2 AM for your pharmacokinetics exam on Wednesday. You missed out on sleep over the weekend because of the test. Plus, you had a pharmacology test last Friday, so you haven’t gotten a good night's sleep in the last week.
You have 45 minutes to get to your 8 AM class, so you rush to the bathroom to address your bed head and brush your teeth. You rush off to class, but not before grabbing your morning breakfast that consists of an unbaked Pop Tart and a banana.
You have 3 classes this Monday morning: pharmacokinetics, pharmacology, and management. You're just glad it's not Tuesday, because on Tuesday, you have 3 hours of class and a 3-hour lab after lunch.
As you sit in class, you’re reminded that you’re behind in pharmacology, but that's only because you've been spending all your extra time studying for the pharmacokinetics exam. You dread pharmacokinetics because you can’t understand the professor even though he speaks English, though you’re fairly certain that he just learned English last year.
Your 9 AM class drags on, but that's mostly because you’re so tired and you lack a passion to learn this new material. You're much more excited about your afternoon nap.
Your last class for the day (management) is a breeze, but it’s boring. The professor doesn’t seem to like the subject very much.
Now, it’s lunchtime. Instead of enjoying a leisurely break, you spend your lunch meeting with your student chapter of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. It’s time to elect next year's president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer.
You're applying for the position of secretary because you know that leadership positions are a must if you want to be competitive in your job search. You don't really want to do it, but you know that you probably should.
You eat ramen for lunch as you walk to your college’s library, where you spend the next 2 hours studying for pharmacokinetics.
At 3 PM, you have to get ready for your night shift at your internship. At home, you eat, fix yourself up a little bit better, and put on your work clothes.
You walk to the retail pharmacy where you actually enjoy the position. With the way your professors talk, you’d think that all retail pharmacies are awful, but that’s not the case. You actually get to help patients because your manager lets you provide patient education and co-provide medication therapy management sessions.
Yes, there is the occasional upset patient, but all things considered, you actually enjoy what you do. You work with a great pharmacist who helps you solve problems, and you get along with the technicians.
When the clock reaches 9 PM, it signals the end of your workday. You have a realistic 3 to 4 hours left in your day to study for the pharmacokinetic test on Wednesday, but you feel burned out.
You spend the next 2 hours with your non-pharmacy friends who realize that there's life outside of college. You need to not be so consumed with pharmacy for a while, and you enjoy this time immensely.
However, your pharmacokinetic exam looms on your mind. You decide to stay up for another 2 hours to study and end up frantically trying to figure out equations.
Two hours turns into 3, and suddenly, it's 2 AM. Given that you have class again in 7 hours, you decide to turn in.
The typical experience with pharmacy school differs on a day-to-day basis. Some days are easier than the above scenario, while others are harder.
For prospective students, be forewarned that pharmacy school will be your life’s greatest challenge yet. Only a select few students get accepted and pass the boards. Schools vary in passing rate, but overall, more than 95% of students pass the NAPLEX.