Going to pharmacy school was always a dream of mine. I graduated from high school in 2012 and thought the field of pharmacy was booming and an ideal career. At the time, it was, but by the time you get the prereqs done and finish the program….well, that’s a different story. This led me to wonder, is pharmacy school worth it?

Time changes everything.

This is something I learned going through the hoops and taking the time to get into a program. At some point through all that time and energy, I got into a program! Of course by the time I started the program and attended for a bit ( the first semester) I began realizing a lot. I eventually left the program after encountering and realizing many different things I should’ve considered beforehand.

Program Structure

This is a big thing to understand and investigate. I feel that so many people are just happy to get accepted into a program that they jump at the chance to attend ANY school that accepts them. After my experience, I realized you need to read the student handbook.

The student handbook is important!

Specifically, the parts about the grading system, course schedule (if available), and policies on academic dismissal are paramount to understanding expectations. You would think that because you are paying soooo much that a school wouldn’t be trying to find reasons to dismiss you easily or have you fail the year…..wrong. It’s much easier than you think to fail the year especially when the school has a hefty schedule.

You need to ask yourself,”Can I handle these policies and schedule?”

Work Load

This brings me to my next point, work load. Many people can walk the walk…lol but can they actually live up to the studying and sacrifice that professional school entails? If you are okay with the school policies and have made it to this point of the article, then please be aware of the courses you are going to take. There is a big sacrifice in family/social time. A lot of my friends had kids and were struggling to figure out how to make time for them and take care of them. I didn’t have kids but I had a family life.

Family time is important!

Don’t drive yourself crazy with studying, but understand that your life will be different entirely. This is a huge investment and trust me…the charm of saying “I am in pharmacy school” really wears off and gets real…..very fast.

Cost

Please tell me (or at least tell the computer screen) you have considered the cost! This is a huge investment and you have got to wonder, “Is this school taking advantage of me?” Always remember, this is a BUSINESS, not a place of friends and happy thoughts. They know what your salary will be and if they are charging close to what you may make a year as a pharmacist, maybe they aren’t the best school.

Look at tuition prices.

A lot of times state schools are cheaper due to having better funding, making them less desperate. After viewing tuition, determine if pharmacy school is worth it.  Never be a desperate person who takes any offer. Maybe you need to become a more competitive candidate. Just because a pharmacist makes that salary, doesn’t mean you can pay it off quickly…life happens.

Social Politics

This one to me was a big deal. If you are someone who feels like they don’t always walk with the crowd, or maybe you don’t try to fit in with everyone all the time, then consider this part. I feel like I am very perceptive of people around me being overly fake and kind of shady. People who look alike and act alike tend to huddle up and “study” together. Ironically, although these people will always be partying and hooking up, they seem to be doing spectacular. Meanwhile, you may be struggling to fully grasp the material and could not imagine goofing around.

Expect cliques and study buddy hookups.

This is supposed to be a professional place. However, there will be hookups and people who aren’t professional. You may be a loner and that may not seem like a big deal, but 4 years with the same people in a small classroom can rub you the wrong way. I am pretty independent but sometimes you need to share the workload to get some assignments done and if nobody is willing to get together with you, that can be a problem.

Job Outlook

If the cost, rules, social cliques, and workload don’t seem too much of a big deal, look at the job outlook in YOUR area. I always hate when people go on about this, but pharmacy has changed. I started my pharmacy journey when this was a booming profession. Now this profession seems saturated and the people in it are very unhappy. I have seen many pharmacist (when shadowing or working at my previous job) that can’t land a permanent full time position.

Job availability in your area is super important.

While it’s true that there are jobs available, they may not be the dream jobs you envisioned. This is sad because of all the time you have invested to be a professional. When can you catch a break!? Some schools (the one I went to) will try and force you to join organizations so that you can get a job easier. This goes back to social politics. There are too many pharmacists being pumped out of schools. So be prepared to join many organizations and attend functions in your free time.

Final Words

Upon considering these points, you decide if pharmacy school is worth it. I am not trying to scare anyone away from pharmacy, but I just want to express the things I wish someone had said to me. This is a serious life changing decision and all factors should be considered. If you have a great plan and have already done your research and considered these points, I hope you have a positive and fulfilling career (truly).