10 Things They Don't Teach You in Pharmacy School

SEPTEMBER 08, 2016
6. Listening
Eighty percent of communication involves listening. Many patient problems could be avoided if pharmacists had basic training in how to actively listen. Pharmacy students should be taught to repeat what patients are saying in their own words to ensure understanding, demonstrate a “listening posture” (eye contact, nonverbal cues like nodding) and give their undivided attention.
7. Hiring Good Staff
The individuals you hire can make or break you. Learning how to interview effectively and hire quality individuals is a skill that will benefit pharmacists throughout their careers. A simple explanation and a few anecdotes from a seasoned pharmacist about positive qualities and red flags would add value to any pharmacy school curriculum.
8. Flexibility
Things tend to be pretty black and white in pharmacy school; there’s usually a clear right answer and a clear wrong one. In the real-world pharmacy, there’s lots of gray and sometimes no clear correct answer. Pharmacy students should be encouraged to be creative, adjust to changing circumstances, and look for new approaches to patient problems.
9. Managing Debt and Personal Finances
Almost every pharmacy student has school loans and will go on to have a mortgage, car loan, or credit card. Although managing personal finances doesn’t exactly fall into the realm of a traditional pharmacy education, the number of students carrying significant debt upon graduation would be sufficient justification.
10. Interview Skills
Although there may be some opportunity for pharmacy students to practice interviewing during the residency process—and many schools offer optional career counseling—formal, required training on job interview skills would be helpful. With the job market becoming more and more challenging for pharmacists, industry-specific training would be a welcome addition to any curriculum.
If you’re a pharmacy student, it’s not too late to educate yourself on these topics in advance of graduation. If you’re already out in the “real world,” chances are you’ve learned many of these things on your own—and perhaps the hard way. In any case, pharmacy schools would do well to incorporate training in these areas to ensure that they’re turning out marketable, employable graduates.

Alex Barker, PharmD
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.