7 Ways to Find Your Niche as a Student Pharmacist

Pharmacy school provides the knowledge and skills necessary to become an adept pharmacist, but career paths are ultimately navigated by the student.

Pharmacy school provides the knowledge and skills necessary to become an adept pharmacist, but career paths are ultimately navigated by the student.

It’s never too early to proactively start planning for your future with a PharmD. Here are 7 tips to guide you toward a fulfilling career:

1. Seek employment or volunteer opportunities in areas that interest you.

A paid or unpaid job gives you the ability to apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. Although practice hours in various settings are built into the curriculum, hands-on experience outside of school can provide more longitudinal growth in your chosen practice setting. This experience may also give you an edge when it comes to applying for a residency or job upon graduation.

Jobs for pharmacy interns are available in both retail and hospital settings. For larger retail chains like CVS, Publix, or Walgreens, it may be helpful to contact the intern coordinator for your specific region. Ask if your school has a job/internship board, and coordinate a way to receive notifications when an opportunity is posted. Pay attention to opportunities offered or advertised within your school by other means, and read your student e-mail. It can even be as simple as performing a Google search for “pharmacy intern (your city and state)”. The first step toward finding a position is finding available opportunities.

If you’re hesitant about the time commitment for employment while in pharmacy school, consider health fairs, flu clinics, and other volunteer opportunities. Experience is the only way to learn what you like, or don’t like, about a certain practice area.

2. Join student organizations.

Student organizations give you the opportunity to build camaraderie with colleagues who share your professional interests and passions. Be an active member of the organizations you’re a part of to make the most of the experience. Explore committee, chair, and executive board positions to grow and develop as a leader.

Most student organizations are student-run chapters of national professional organizations. Being involved as a student can provide networking or scholarship opportunities; it’s also a way to stay in touch with relevant issues and discussion points in the pharmacy field.

3. Reach out to faculty members.

Faculty members are a great source of support and guidance. They can help you identify your strengths and offer tips on how to grow as a professional. Take advantage of the perspective and insight they have to offer. After all, they’ve been in your shoes before.

4. Browse pharmacist job postings to stay informed on desired qualifications.

Check out the required and desired qualifications for positions you might desire after graduation. This can easily be done by reviewing pharmacist job postings. Having an idea of what employers are looking for can maximize your potential to meet their needs as a candidate in the future.

5. Use an online assessment tool.

APhA’s career pathways is an excellent online assessment tool that helps identify goals and values and presents a ranked list of fitting career options. This is a great opportunity for self-reflection, and it’s an an eye-opener to the diverse opportunities within the field.

6. Consider your talents and passions.

Consider how to apply your strengths in your career. It may not always be easy to see the connection between your own interests and pharmacy today, but those who creatively apply their ideas are the innovators we need to build a brighter future.

7. Keep an open mind.

Be open to new opportunities and experiences as you begin to think about your future career. You don’t need to commit to just one niche for the rest of your life right now, regardless of how long you’ve been practicing. You may find that your goals change with time.

It’s good to know what you want, but it’s also important to be adaptable. A balance of forward thinking and flexibility is a great foundation for a fulfilling career.