Pharmacy School HQ http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org Guarantee Your PharmD Tue, 28 Nov 2017 05:15:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.8 Ingredients for a Perfect Personal Statement http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/ingredients-perfect-personal-statement/ http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/ingredients-perfect-personal-statement/#respond Tue, 28 Nov 2017 05:15:19 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=1248 Writing always seemed to be the one thing I have excelled at through college, which many of you already know. I absolutely love helping each and every one of you in the PCAT Study Group with your essays! Over time, I have received a few common questions/concerns that I’d like to take the time to address. […]

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Writing always seemed to be the one thing I have excelled at through college, which many of you already know. I absolutely love helping each and every one of you in the PCAT Study Group with your essays!

Over time, I have received a few common questions/concerns that I’d like to take the time to address. All of which I guarantee will help you to write the perfect personal statement!

Start off with a bang!

First things first, you must start off your intro with a bang. It has to be something catchy – you want to capture the reader’s attention and reel them in.

I always like to think of some sort of “story” that I can tell. Open with the beginning of said story, flow into the essay, and then close with the conclusion relating back to the story.

Try and think of something that reflects who you are as a person. Some event that changed you or helped you become the student you are today. This doesn’t have to be school related! 🙂

If you have some sort of extenuating circumstance (why you failed a class, a childhood tragedy, why you retook a class, why your GPA is low, etc.), I suggest trying to work this into the story you will tell. You’ll make the essay personable but also easy to read (and you’ll also be addressing something important).

The body of the paper…

There’s no exact order of what you need to talk about, so you can really change up the essay to fit your needs. Make sure each paragraph flows from one thing to the next – avoid starting paragraphs with, “Then…” or “Also…” You only have so many characters so make sure you are clear and concise. Shorten sentences whenever you can! Be sure to include the following topics:

  • Why you chose pharmacy – give personal examples specific to you
  • Short term goals – in school, work, education, extracurriculars, etc.
  • Long term career goals – what you plan to do in pharmacy school, after you graduate, etc.

You don’t have to talk about all of the details in each of those points, but apply them as needed to your essay so that you can personalize it.

Review it 🙂

Lastly, please please please make sure you review your paper! Take a couple days to do this – don’t rush it. If you can, have a friend, family member, professor, etc. review it.

How you think you are saying something may not actually come across the way you want it to. That’s why it’s great to obtain others’ feedback.

I know many of you have asked me to help review your essays – and I absolutely love to! But I also see posts asking other students in the group to edit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but I would like to point out a few things:

The pre-pharmacy students in the group are in the same boat as you. Unless you know someone very well, you may want to reconsider having them review it (plagiarism – sad, but it does happen).

Instead, try to reach out to students already in pharmacy school or your school’s writing center if it has one!

In conclusion…

My biggest piece of advice to you is this: write how you feel most comfortable. If you are a planner and you need to take a couple of weeks to perfect a paper, then do it! If that’s how you perform best in your college classes, don’t treat the PCAT essay any differently. In fact, it’s probably more important (shhh!).

If you are someone who writes best when you procrastinate…..(this is actually me)…..it’s okay. Go ahead and procrastinate, but only to a certain extent. Don’t be pushing yourself until the very last minute to get the essay done.

You need to make sure you have time to review it, so only procrastinate the writing process. Do not procrastinate the review process 🙂

Now that you have the key ingredients for writing the perfect personal essay, you’re set to go! So what are you waiting for? 🙂 Get writing!

 

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I got a pharmacy school interview…..now what? http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/got-pharmacy-school-interview-now/ Wed, 08 Nov 2017 16:26:47 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=1246 So….you got an interview! Now what? Are you stuck with what to do next?   Well, don’t worry because we’re going to help you with that. You’ll become more confident in no time if you follow these 4 simple steps to prepare for interview day!   1st Step: Research the School Now I know this […]

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So….you got an interview!

Now what?

Are you stuck with what to do next?

 

Well, don’t worry because we’re going to help you with that. You’ll become more confident in no time if you follow these 4 simple steps to prepare for interview day!

 

1st Step: Research the School

Now I know this may seem self-explanatory, and it’s most likely a step you’ve already completed, but this time around, I want you to research the professors.

 

There’s a good chance you will come across your interviewer during your search. If you know a little more about them, think of how impressed he/she will be if you are able to ask a question about his/her specific research or student organization!

 

It’s important for you to know what’s going on in the schools because this should influence your ranking decisions.

 

Doing this will also supply you with a slew of questions to ask – never say that you don’t have any questions for the interviewers! Knowing what’s going on in the school will be helpful in figuring out questions you want to ask!

2nd Step: Practice Interview Questions

Do you know what kinds of questions you will be asked? No? Well, just Google it!

 

There are TONS of sample interview questions out there, and you can even find some specific to pharmacy. Go over as many as you can and answer them in your head, or even out loud to an empty room.

 

Practice what you will say if you are asked a similar question. You don’t want to be sitting in the interview while you search your nervous mind for an answer!

 

I won’t lie…..your first interview will probably not be your most successful (unless you’re really awesome at being social and talking about your accomplishments and experiences!), but the best thing about it is that you will improve.

 

More interviews = more experience = professional interaction improvement. Being in my second year of graduate school, I can assure you that your interactions with patients and other health professionals will only improve over time as you gain more experience in a professional setting. It sucks waiting, but it really is worth it once you look back at how far you’ve come!

 

Check out our Interview Mastery course on the website for some more tips and tricks to rock your interview.

 

3rd Step: Be Physically Prepared

Dress the part. Do your clothes need to be top of the line, brand name? No – these schools know you are students! Just be sure to use an iron (yes, an iron!) and look sharp and presentable.

 

Tip for the ladies: get dress slacks. If you didn’t apply early decision, you will most likely be going on interviews in the winter when it’s cold out! (Depending on your geographical location, of course). If you have cold weather, you will want to wear slacks and not a skirt or dress. Just trust me on this one, ladies!

 

Now… in addition…….you want to make sure you are mentally and physically prepared.

 

Do you get nervous in high stress situations?

Get headaches easily?

Feel like you’re going to pass out?

 

Well, be prepared for these things to happen! Carry some Ibuprofen with you, maybe a candy bar if your sugar gets low, and always have a water bottle (yes, you can have it with you. Trust me, you’ll be talking a lot!).

 

You will be at the school for a few hours, so it’s best to be prepared rather than wishing you never got that pounding headache right before your interview because of how stressed you were…

 

4th Step: Inhale, Exhale

Relax!! Try and think of your interview as a conversation rather than an interview.

 

You want to be able to converse with other health professionals about pharmacy, your goals in life, your qualifications that you have so far, and how you want to provide care to the surrounding community (or things you’ve already done if you’ve had experience with this).

 

What do all of these talking points have in common? YOU. It’s you that the college wants to learn about. Yes, you will be asked about certain situations, how you’ve handled them, or how you would handle them if you were never put in that situation before. Again, it’s about YOU.

 

This is your chance to show the college (in person) why pharmacy is your passion. I completely understand if you hate talking about yourself (I do, too!).

 

Think of the interviewers as your peers (no, not like the ones you hang out with on the weekends!) — they are the peers you will interact professionally with while in pharmacy school (like in group projects)

 

Why?? Well, guess what?

 

When you graduate, these health professionals that are interviewing you will be your peers! Pretty cool when you think about it, right?

 

I know, I know, this last step takes some mental strength in order to change the way you’re thinking about the whole interview process, but I can assure you that once this was previously explained to me, my nerves lightened up massively. It was 100% worth pondering over!

 

Well, that was #4 – we’re done! At this point, guess what the only thing left for you to do is?? …..rock your interview!! ….And I know you will 🙂

 

Kimberly A. Hill, Student Pharmacist Class of 2020

“I am a student pharmacist who is passionate for patient care, an advocate for interprofessional collaboration, an aspiring clinician, a promoter of the legislation to recognize pharmacists as providers, and I will faithfully and passionately serve my community and future generations of pharmacists in all ways possible.”

 

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How to be a US Pharmacist in 3 *Easy* Steps http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/how-to-be-a-us-pharmacist-in-3-easy-steps/ Sat, 10 Jun 2017 23:24:01 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=1232 Redda Talhouni is a pharmD graduate from the University of Jordan, making her way through the pharmaceutical world one jargon at a time. When not, she is sharing her muses on thelastsixyears.wordpress.com So you decided to get your US pharmacy license after you graduated from a foreign school, huh? GOOD NEWS: it’s not an impossible […]

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Redda Talhouni is a pharmD graduate from the University of Jordan, making her way through the pharmaceutical world one jargon at a time. When not, she is sharing her muses on thelastsixyears.wordpress.com


So you decided to get your US pharmacy license after you graduated from a foreign school, huh?

GOOD NEWS: it’s not an impossible task!  

GREAT NEWS: continue reading for a step by step plan of how to do so!  

The only bad news: Say goodbye to your region’s cuisine because this process will take a year or two to complete. I don’t know about you but bidding farewell to Arabic hummus was one of my most difficult accomplishments.

I’m Redda, a recent pharmD graduate from the University of Jordan; currently in the process of getting the US pharmaceutical licensure in the state of Virginia.  At the moment, I am an intern at a retail pharmacy and have yet to take the NAPLEX but these are the steps I’ve taken so far, and will work on through.  

Obtaining your license requires completing 3 main steps.

The order of these steps depends on the state you’re in, so always make sure to check your state’s board of pharmacy website.

Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Evaluation Committee Certification (FPGEC):

When you ask fellow foreign licensure hunters, this certification is always hyped up to be the defining step. You’re left thinking, if I pass this, it will all be easy sailing from here. And while that is true to an extent, it is not the hardest step.  That being said, it is the most tedious, time consuming and expensive step (around $2000) you’ll take.  

To get your FPGEC Certification, you need to

  1. Qualify for the FPGEC Certification: Applying for qualification requires a lot of papers to be submitted, applications to fill out and registration fees to be paid. And, for the most part, all of the paperwork is done via snail mail.  One would assume this step would have been more developed in the 21st century, America?!  To make matters worse, once you submit your application, waiting for a response on qualification has no time range.
    Applications are processed on a first-come-first-serve basis. In the meantime, you better open those pharmacy books, because now you have to…
  2. Pass the Foreign Pharmacist Graduate Evaluation Exam(FPGEE) and Test Of English as a Foreign Language internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT) exams: Studying for these can be quite overwhelming.  Luckily, if you head over to Facebook, there are plenty of FPGEE and Toefl iBt support groups that can help you out in every way imaginable.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that, once your qualification papers come through, you will have to reserve a seat at the nearest testing center and, depending on how early/late you sent your registration code, you may have to go out of state for the day.  

To reiterate: Getting the FPGEC Certification is a long process.  Even waiting on the results is approximately another 2 months.  My last piece of advice when it comes to dealing with the FPGEC Certification process is to have patience and be flexible. Once you’re done, it’ll feel like a huge weight has been lifted.

Internship

Personally, this is the hardest step and, quite frankly, another long process.   After your FPGEC Certification is mailed to you, you have to register with your state’s board as a “pharmacy intern”, pay the according fee and then complete a good chunk of hours of pharmaceutical internship. The VA Board requires 1500hrs which, if calculated for 40hrs/week, is exactly 37.5 weeks i.e around 10 months of training.

Anyone who has ever been a student knows how difficult it is to find an internship, let alone a paid one.  In addition, various states don’t even count your hours working as a technician.  

Here are a few pointers I’ve learned that will help you get an internship:

  1. Don’t quit your day job: Just because you have the FPGEC Certification doesn’t mean retail pharmacies are waiting with arms wide open In fact, a lot of them will offer you an unpaid internship. If you run out of options, you can always try and work some internship hours after your day job. Yes, this will take longer to complete, but it’s a step in the right direction.
  2. Work as a technician: Yes, it won’t count as part of your internship, but getting into the healthcare system is a very important step. If you start as a technician, your supervisor may promote you to intern once your certification comes through.  Keep in mind that most states require you to take a technician test to qualify for the position.
  3. Apply, apply, apply and call, call, call: Start by applying online to every opening possible, but don’t forget to follow through with a phone call or even an in-person visit. In pharmacies, things are always changing. A lot of the times, you’ll find a spot has opened up just as you called, or the pharmacists in charge can give you valuable pointers and tips on who to call next.  When you apply, make sure to talk to privately-owned pharmacies first. Chances of them hiring a foreign graduate are higher than chain pharmacies.

This step isn’t based on how well you memorize and recall information. Don’t be hard on yourself if it takes a good while to work out your hours, you’ll get there eventually. And when you do so, it’s time to start planning ahead, for the next and final step is a major key.

NAPLEX/MPJE:

The North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE) are required from foreign and US pharmacy graduates by the boards of pharmacy to assess your pharmaceutical practice competence.  The first reviews your pharmaceutical knowledge with scenario based questions, while the latter tests you on pharmacy law with “questions that are specific to the federal law and state laws of the jurisdictions in which candidates are seeking licensure”.

The NAPLEX/MPJE exams have a similar registration and preparation process to the FPGEE, albeit somewhat simpler and cheaper (around $900).  I haven’t reached this stage yet, so all I know of it is what I’ve read and asked about i.e they’re pharmacy exams.  You’ve come a long way in your pharmaceutical career to be put off by the final two steps, especially when the last step is not a new concept it’s basically studying and answering questions, with almost a year of preparation.

The way I plan on tackling these exams is to find the best source material: ask online groups for tips, and plan a study guide around my day-to-day routine.  Don’t start preparing the minute you find an internship; take a month or two to establish a proper routine and then go at it. Study at your own leisure, only two more exams left and you’ll be a licensed pharmacist!

One issue you may be wondering about is the conditions of getting a work visa and, unfortunately, I won’t be able to help with that but I will repeat my earlier tip:

  • Look for the online support groups. There are plenty, and they answer many of your inquiries!

However, if you want official information, then I would recommend this website, and this.

Overall, on the lucky chance that you manage to work through these steps efficiently with no hitch in your plan, it will probably take a year or two to complete. If takes longer, welcome the delays. Remember to enjoy the unplanned moments in life and move towards your goal with determination and malleability.    

           ******************************

DISCLAIMER: This is based on my own experiences in the state of Virginia.  What I deem difficult/easy might not be the same to you.  Although the essential information of each step is the same for us all, hopefully your journey will pass easier than mine.

 

 

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Endless Opportunities at Pharmacy Conferences http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/endless-opportunities-pharmacy-conferences/ Wed, 17 May 2017 19:40:19 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=1229 This is a guest post from Kimberly Hill, PharmD Candidate. She shares why every student should go to a pharmacy conference (even if you have an exam!). Enjoy! This year, I was blessed with the opportunity to become the next APhA-Asp Patient Care Vice President at Pitt. What does that even mean?! I interviewed and […]

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This is a guest post from Kimberly Hill, PharmD Candidate. She shares why every student should go to a pharmacy conference (even if you have an exam!). Enjoy!


This year, I was blessed with the opportunity to become the next APhA-Asp Patient Care Vice President at Pitt. What does that even mean?! I interviewed and was chosen for this position from Pitt’s APhA-Asp Electoral Board (E-board). I had absolutely no idea what I had gotten myself into. All I know is that I was thrown into spending $1000 with a few clicks of a button on plane tickets and hotel reservations. What for? The APhA 2017 Annual Conference. Why the $1000? Well, because it was in San Francisco, California. To a person who has never been out west, I had no idea what to expect – especially the prices of everything. THANKFULLY, with this position at my wonderful school, I will be refunded most of what I spent. My duty is to attend the Annual Conference in order to learn, bring back my new knowledge, and better Pitt’s APhA-Asp chapter. I had a reason to be going. I found a new passion within pharmacy for myself, and I now want to run for regional and national positions within APhA-Asp. I NEVER knew I would get this much out of just one conference…

The following is a small excerpt from my reflection at the Annual Conference:

During the Annual Conference, I was required to participate in events for leadership training and the different project organizations that are a part of APhA-Asp. During the Patient Care Vice-President Workshop, I learned that collaboration and communication are extremely important characteristics of this leader, whom I will eventually become. Having these connections to the rest of the E-Board and the healthcare community will ensure that our Patient Care projects are successful.

I have also learned the steps involved in planning and implementing these projects: initiation, planning, communication, evaluations, reporting, and building relationships. Each separate step fits perfectly into the whole process. The first three steps of initiation, planning, and communication are self-explanatory in the sense that every project should involve these steps at the very beginning. In addition, I have learned that it is also important to evaluate each project and how it went: was it cost effective, was it well attended, and most important, what is the opinion of the patients and community members who attended the event. I have learned that my position is not just to watch over the project and organization leaders, but I also need to interact with the patients and community members to determine what they really need and want. Their feedback is the most important! This should have been obvious to me, but I am thankful that it was stressed as much as it was during this presentation. There was also advice given on reporting and building relationships not just with patients, but also health care communities around Allegheny County. It is important for these relationships to continuously be improved and upheld in order to have the greatest success of our projects.

I believe the most important thing I have learned at this Annual Conference is that you should never peak. Once you reach your current goal, and you will, you need to immediately set another one. It does not matter what your current goal was, there will always be room for improvement and to reach even further. Our careers are ever evolving, which leaves so much room for us to innovate and change health care for the better. The one thing I will always remember is that this will never end. Being a leader is not just about improving ourselves, but it also includes improving and mentoring our successors. In order to ensure the wonderful, innovating, and patient-centered future of pharmacy, we must encourage our successors to go above and beyond.

…crazy right?! I got all that and even more from my time in California. Who knew that an opportunity like this would be given to me? Who knew that I would want to run for a national position? Who knew that I would become this passionate about pharmacy at a national level? I sure didn’t. This opportunity would have never arisen if I didn’t make the decision to become a member of APhA-Asp. This opportunity would have never arisen if I didn’t become involved in Pitt’s chapter. This opportunity would have never arisen if I didn’t attend the meetings where I learned about the leadership positions.

My advice to you? GET INVOVLED! Doesn’t matter what it is or if you’re even interested in it – do it ASAP! As soon as you step foot in your new “pharmacy home” for the next 3 to 4 years. Want to know why it doesn’t matter if you’re not interested? ….do you think I was interested in leadership on a national level my first day of pharmacy school? NOPE! Didn’t even cross my mind. I took the leap, and you should, too. Will it matter if I actually make it to be elected for a national leadership position? Not to me! Will I try my absolutely hardest? Of course! But I always try to remember – in pharmacy school, it’s not all about the grades, the internship, the rotations, etc. It’s about what you learn along the way.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read. I look forward to hopefully seeing some of you within APhA-Asp very soon! Or even at my school of pharmacy 🙂

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How to Create Your PCAT Study Schedule http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/create-pcat-study-schedule/ Mon, 16 May 2016 11:16:43 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=1216 The PCAT is not your average test. It’s not an easy test. And it’s likely to be one of the most important tests you’ll ever take! Tests of this scope require above-average preparation. With that in mind, you’ll have to tailor a special study schedule for your needs and adhere to it. If you haven’t […]

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The PCAT is not your average test. It’s not an easy test. And it’s likely to be one of the most important tests you’ll ever take! Tests of this scope require above-average preparation.

With that in mind, you’ll have to tailor a special study schedule for your needs and adhere to it. If you haven’t already, see our article about how to earn your highest PCAT score. It will give you a good starting point for assessing your strengths and weaknesses on the test.

First, let’s get something out of the way

Do NOT follow a pre-made study schedule for this test. You are unique, with your own strengths and weaknesses. You’re an efficient “studier” with one method but a poor studier with the next. You have your own ways of learning.

However, there are certain elements that EVERY study plan should include. We’re going to go over these elements, and then give you the guidance you need to design your own study schedule.

What every study schedule needs to consist of:

  1. Real test runs: You need to take the full practice test, from start to finish, several times. Try to emulate the actual test day. By doing this, you’ll learn test patterns, your strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll get better at focusing on the material.
  2. Early and often: Those who start studying early will always win over those who cram everything into a week. Those who study often will always beat those who study 5 times over 2 months. You’re going to beat all of these people by studying early and often.
  3. Mentorship: Nothing beats the wisdom you can gain from someone who’s already been in your shoes. Find a mentor. If you don’t know one personally, there are plenty of online communities and social media opportunities for you to connect with one.

Tailor made for you:

The good news is that incorporating the three essentials we already talked about will actually give you some valuable starting points for creating your customized schedule…

That said, here’s what you need to keep in mind when creating yours:

  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses: When you do the real test runs, you’ll figure this out quickly. Do not study all sections of the test equally. Do study all sections of the test, but put more effort into your weak areas than you do your strong areas. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people just mechanically study a test with no consideration as to what they actually need to work on.
  2. When do you learn best? Do you learn best in the morning or at night? After a workout or after you roll out of bed? Becoming aware of these things will help you determine the “when” of your study time.
  3. People learn best by doing: Take a look at this graph…

ConeOfLearning

Leverage these figures when creating your study schedule. You’re putting yourself ahead of the competition!

Sample Study Schedule

By now, you should have a solid idea of what you need to do to create your own schedule. We’re going to wrap up this article with a sample study schedule to give you some ideas!

Schedule #1:

Study schedule beginning date: April 1st 2015

Test Date: June 1st 2015

Total Weeks: 8

Study sessions per week: 3 or 4

Hours per session: Varies

*Alternate week variant 1 and 2 between each of the eight weeks.

 

Week Variant 1:

Session 1: PCAT practice test

Session 2: Test review + Strength and weaknesses analysis

Session 3: Test content study using books, videos, audio, etc.

 

Week Variant 2:

Session 1: PCAT practice test

Session 2: Test pattern analysis + your learning methods analysis

Session 3: Study + Improve test taking skills using books, videos, audio, etc.

Session 4: Test content study using books, videos, audio, etc.

 

There you have it! Now get out there and start studying!

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[infographic] The Ultimate Pharmacist Salary Guide http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/infographic-the-ultimate-pharmacist-salary-guide/ http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/infographic-the-ultimate-pharmacist-salary-guide/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 01:05:47 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=1122 I recently wrote about pharmacist salary, and a few comments I received were that the article as too long. So I created an infographic that summarizes the main points here: Click here to see a larger version the infographic  Click here to download infographic as a pdf Want to display this infographic on your website? Copy the […]

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I recently wrote about pharmacist salary, and a few comments I received were that the article as too long. So I created an infographic that summarizes the main points here:

Pharmacist Salary Guide

Click here to see a larger version the infographic 

Click here to download infographic as a pdf

Want to display this infographic on your website?

Copy the text below and for your website

<a href=”http://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/alex-barker-pharmd/2015/04/the-ultimate-and-surprising-2015-pharmacist-salary-guide”><img src=”http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Salary-Infographic-500x2027px.png” alt=”The Ultimate and Surprising 2015 Pharmacist Salary Guide”></a><br />Source: <a href=”http://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/alex-barker-pharmd/2015/04/the-ultimate-and-surprising-2015-pharmacist-salary-guide”>The Ultimate and Surprising 2015 Pharmacist Salary Guide</a>

Sources

  • http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/pharmacist-salary-guide/
  • http://www.pharmacyweek.com/cm/salary_survey
  • http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/pharmacists.htm
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930253/
  • http://drugtopics.modernmedicine.com/drug-topics/news/drug-topics-2015-salary-survey-pharmacist-incomes-hold-steady?page=full
  • http://www.aacp.org/resources/research/institutionalresearch/Pages/salarydata.aspx
  • http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/pharmacist/salary

 

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Getting Your PCAT Score as High As Possible http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/getting-your-pcat-score-as-high-as-possible/ Tue, 31 Mar 2015 00:30:34 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=1095 There’s no getting around it, you’re going to be judged on your PCAT score. Therefore, the higher your score, the better off you’ll be. Don’t let this intimidate you though. With proper preparation and knowledge, anyone can score well. By the end of this article, you’re going to know what you need to do to […]

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There’s no getting around it, you’re going to be judged on your PCAT score. Therefore, the higher your score, the better off you’ll be.

Don’t let this intimidate you though. With proper preparation and knowledge, anyone can score well. By the end of this article, you’re going to know what you need to do to score high. You’ll also learn about other areas of judgement that, if you do well with, will save you from a low PCAT score.

Practice, Practice, Practice.

“Practice makes perfect” has been stripped of its meaning from overuse and shallow self-help advice. So, allow us to rephrase it: If you don’t practice, you will not get a high score. Period.

There are tons of resources online, including practice tests from the producers of the PCAT, that will aid you in earning a high score.

99% of the time, difference between those who score high and those who struggle is the amount of hard work they put in studying and practicing the test. For those 1% who don’t have to study and still score well, we envy you.

Google is a great place to start. When you’re doing your research, keep these things in mind:

  • Study the test itself. Look at it’s logic, patterns, common themes, etc.
  • In addition to knowledge of the test’s subjects, test-taking skills will also benefit you. Mastering strategies such as elimination will increase your test scores, regardless of the test subject.
  • Space out your practice, and start early. Those who cram everything into one week aren’t going to score as well as those who studied 3 hours a day, every day for two months before the test.

Capitalize on your strengths, improve your weaknesses.

Not all parts of the PCAT are created equal. If you’re advanced in one area, but weak in another, don’t spend an equal amount of time studying both areas. Spend more time practicing to improve your weaknesses. Becoming well-rounded will greatly help you improve that score.

If you become good at identifying your weaknesses, you’ll become unstoppable. Some of the common fallbacks most people have are:

  • A habit of searching for the correct answer before eliminating incorrect answers.
  • A habit of only studying the questions you get wrong on the practice test. This is shallower than studying ALL questions.
  • Failing to recognize bad habits and common mistakes, and therefore not fixing them.

Still struggling to get that score high? Fear not.

Click the link for an excellent resource that tells you under what circumstances you need to retake the PCAT.

Remember, there are other things that can make up for a bad PCAT score, such as:

  • Your stats (Pharmacy hours + experience, GPA, etc.)
  • Your interview skills
  • Writing skills
  • “Contacts” – People you know

We advise that you read through this entire post on retaking the PCAT. It contains of wealth of knowledge useful to anyone who is getting into this field.

Wrapping it up

With your newly found knowledge, you’ll have no trouble scoring well. Remember, there are no “tricks” or “shortcuts” to the top. The only difference between those who score well and those who don’t is how much hard work they put in. Be willing to outwork everyone you know.

You’ll also have to be willing to make sacrifices. Oh, your favorite band is coming into town this weekend? Too bad, you have to a test to study. Your friends invited you out for drinks? Too bad, you have a test to study. If you want to get an above average score, you have to be above-average in your study ethic. That’s the bottom line!

 

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Pharmacist Unemployment Rate – Should You Be Worried? http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/pharmacist-unemployment-rate/ http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/pharmacist-unemployment-rate/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:59:42 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=1079 I received an email last week that went something like this: “I’m concerned about going to pharmacy school because everyone is saying there are no jobs for pharmacists. It seems like the unemployment rate will continue to increase and I’m ” Let’s chat a bit about the pharmacist unemployment rate. There are plenty of job […]

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I received an email last week that went something like this:TEXT HERE

“I’m concerned about going to pharmacy school because everyone is saying there are no jobs for pharmacists. It seems like the unemployment rate will continue to increase and I’m ”

Let’s chat a bit about the pharmacist unemployment rate.

There are plenty of job opportunities for pharmacists. A first job may not be a new grad’s dream job (or ideal job), but that’s typical.

 

Pharmacist Unemployment Rate

Sadly there is no “official” report on pharmacist unemployment. What few reports there are, do not accurately report their “sources”.

 

American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education – The Pharmacist Aggregate Demand Index to Explain Changing Pharmacist Demand Over a Ten-Year Period

Unemployment Rate: range 3.9% to 10.1% (December 2010)

This study used an “inverse” relationship in comparison to the aggregate demand index. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, it’s okay, it didn’t make sense to me either.

Unfortunately, this information is old, but it doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

 

U.S. News – Finance

Unemployment Rate: 2.3 % (2015)

Possibly the most trust worthy resource I found, in my opinion. However, they do not report their resource.

 

Yahoo

Unemployment Rate: 3.2 % (2012)

They also reported a median Salary of $116,670, which matches my pharmacist salary report.

 

Houston Chronicle

Unemployment Rate: 5.5 % (May 2010)

This is an outdated report. It also is not clear where exactly where they found the stat.

What about individual pharmacy school reports?

Sometimes pharmacy schools will report their employment rate. It may be higher than these numbers; 5% is not unusual.

However, these numbers are misleading.

Here’s why…

These surveys ask students around 4-6 months (sometimes 12 months) after graduation if they received a job.

Who’s to say that all of these students are looking?

A wise tactic that a few of my fellow alumni choose was to wait 5 months after graduation. His reasoning? If you wait after graduation, it may be that you can be paid more.

Employers aren’t stupid. They offer less money to new graduates because of the plethora of candidates. Employers are more likely to pay more for a candidate after graduation season  because there will be less candidates.

 

Should unemployment rates scare you? 

I think there are two responses for two different people.

If this describes you: dislikes most of your previous jobs, avoid speaking with people, over-complain about small problems, no desire to improve on your ability… THEN

Yes, you should be scared at this (possibly) growing number of unemployment.

If this describes you: enjoys learning new things, despite problems you try to create a solution that fits everyone, love speaking with regular customers, enjoy your coworkers… THEN

No, you are “recession” proof in my opinion. If you are this type of person, then even if you lose your job I have no doubts you will find another.

 

 

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10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Be A Pharmacist http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/10-reasons-shouldnt-pharmacist/ http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/10-reasons-shouldnt-pharmacist/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 04:10:13 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=995 Like every profession, the pharmacy profession has its pros and cons. Since everybody is unique with their own qualities, strengths, and weaknesses, some people are more suited to be a pharmacist than others. To allow you to make this judgment for yourself, here are the ten most common downsides to the industry. The Training Becoming […]

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Like every profession, the pharmacy profession has its pros and cons.

Since everybody is unique with their own qualities, strengths, and weaknesses, some people are more suited to be a pharmacist than others. To allow you to make this judgment for yourself, here are the ten most common downsides to the industry.

  1. The Training

Becoming a pharmacist requires a massive amount of education and training. Before you receive your PharmD degree, expect to go through 6-8 years of school.

And these won’t be easy years. You’ll spend hours at the library, studying chemical structures, metabolic pathways, and others things you’ll soon forget after the exam.

If you’re the kind of person who can’t handle waiting 6-8 years or the intense pressure of exams, this field may not be for you.

  1. The Debt

The average pharmacist graduates with around $115,000 dollars of debt as of 2014. Overwhelming debt can be mitigates with scholarships, part-time and summer jobs, and avoiding private institutions. But, the vast majority of students take on more student loans than necessary.

I talk about my own journey of pharmacy school and how I’m eliminating debt as quickly as possible. Take a listen to my show Pharmacy Life Radio where I share how I paid off $50,000 in 9 months recently.

  1. The Responsibility

The role of a pharmacist is unquestionably one of immense responsibility. Handing people medicine over the counter isn’t the only part of your job. As a pharmacist your duty is to:

  • ensure the quality, safety, and efficacy of the every medication for your patient
  • ensure that the medicine is suitable for the patient’s condition
  • advise the patient on how to take the medicine and answer all of their questions.
  • And, there’s a long list of responsibilities here

This is only a brief list. It doesn’t even include responsibility of leadership, management, coorporate mandates, teamwork, and the list could go on for pages.

People’s lives are in your hands. Living under this kind of stress on a day-to-day basis isn’t for everybody. Plus, the daily stresses varies between the different niches in Pharmacy (especially retail).

  1. The Workplace

Hospital pharmacies are open 24 hours per day. The hospital pharmacist is busy from the beginning to the end of their shift. Twelve-hour shifts + intensive care patients mean more stress and a higher need for specialized knowledge. Note: not every hospital has 12-hour shifts.

At a retail pharmacy, the pharmacist constantly dispenses prescriptions, answers people’s questions, and also must have a knowledge of insurance regulations, AND deal with the “ever-angry” customer.

Inarguably, the best way to find out if this workplace suits you is to shadow a pharmacist.

When you’re shadowing, picture yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, “Is this a career that will make you happy?

There are dozens of other types of pharmacies, too many to say here. Do you know what makes the workplace enjoyable? Three things:

  • Engaging work
  • Fun team members
  • A great leader/manager
  1. Competition is fierce

Competition doesn’t end after you get accepted into a school and gets worse as time goes on.

It’s fiercest in cities and decreases significantly in rural areas.

You aren’t guaranteed a career after you graduate. Of course, I would hope if you wish to become a doctor of pharmacy that you wouldn’t spend the rest of your career “coasting” at one job.

If you’re like most people and collect a ton of debt along the way, you can be in serious trouble. You have to assess this risk for yourself and determine if the possible reward is worth it.

  1. Unclear Health Forecast for America

Changes have been sweeping across America’s healthcare system recently with the introduction of the Affordable Care Act.
Medicare has cut funding, which has closed hundreds of hospitals. It’s difficult to forecast the future, and the career security of a pharmacist is not the same as it used to be. If you’re looking for a rock-solid secure position, this may not be the best career choice for you.

  1. A PharmD degree won’t make you happy.

It’s a mistake to view your degree as the end-all solution to your happiness. It’s not.

The degree doesn’t change you, it only amplifies your best (or worst) qualities. Depending on the kind of person you are, making more money and buying more stuff can bring on more stress.

  1. Do you hate problems? Run, don’t walk away from this field.

The very nature of this field means you will be the go-to person for solving problems. Not only will you answer the questions of dozens of patients, you will help other healthcare professionals who work with you.

Not all people are nice, either. You will deal with a lot of jerks. Granted, jerks are in every profession.

There are plenty of other career options that do not have the same level of problem-solving.

  1. The respect you receive may not be equal to your training.

You will become a highly trained professional who toiled through years of training, too many exams to count, and sleepless nights. You are extremely qualified to advise patients on everything from drugs to their diet, but some people may still observe you as nothing more than a “pill counter.”

  1. Standing. Retail pharmacists stand too much.

Most employers will require you to stand all day, every day. You’ll also be bending down and reaching up a lot to get prescriptions from the shelves. This makes it a physically demanding career. Not everybody is built to withstand the physical demands of being a pharmacist!

Some pharmacists aren’t allowed to take a bathroom break. If they did, they would have to shut down the pharmacy, and reopen once the pharmacist returned.

  1. Bonus Con: Possible jail time.

Aside from physical demands, there are strong mental demands too. You have to be on top of your game as a pharmacist. Every. Single. Day.

If you accidentally administer the wrong dosage or even the wrong drug to a patient, there could be serious repercussions, including big fines or even time in prison.

In retail pharmacies, it can get difficult to counsel and advise each patient when it gets busy. When you can’t sit down and talk to each patient, there’s an increased chance that they might misuse the drugs.

Don’t overlook the liability issues of the healthcare industry.

 

Like every career field, the pharmacy industry has its pros and cons. If you’re the type of person who can handle these downsides, keep on your path. There’s a bright future ahead for you! Trust me, if I can become a pharmacist and handle the daily pressures, so can you!

Check out my Pharmacy Life Podcast where I share more about life as a pharmacist!

 

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The Pharmacist Salary Guide http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/pharmacist-salary-guide/ Thu, 19 Feb 2015 22:08:59 +0000 http://www.pharmacyschoolhq.org/?p=1013 Know how much pharmacists make? Think Again. Pharmacy gets a good reputation for being a stable job, well respected, and good income (and 10 other reasons why pharmacists have great jobs). A lot of people argue against those reasons (some have valid points).   What I want to share with you now are the reports that […]

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Know how much pharmacists make? Think Again.

Pharmacy gets a good reputation for being a stable job, well respected, and good income (and 10 other reasons why pharmacists have great jobs).

A lot of people argue against those reasons (some have valid points).

 

What I want to share with you now are the reports that are out there concerning the pharmacist salary. I pulled from various resources to give you an honest and unbiased view of our wages.
If you’d like you can see my own income and budget report by signing up below.

 


Pharmacy School HQ Salary Summary Report

 

Full-Time Pharmacists in the U.S.A. make anywhere from $90,000 to $140,000 per year.

 

Let’s dive into our resources for this article.

 

American Journal of Pharmacy Education

According to an article in the American Journal of Pharmacy Education, the average salary has risen since 2002 from $75,000 to $112,000 in 2014.

They also performed some great research on debt and salary increase over the last 15 years. They found the “average indebtedness for pharmacy students ($114,422)”. Unfortunately, that only tells us the average. If you’ve taken statistics yet, you know by know that number can be manipulated.

Average Salary: $112,000

Average Debt : $114,422

(my debt from pharmacy school : click below to find out)

The article makes a big to do about how the debt load has increased over the pharmacist’s average first year salary ($112,160).

Here’s the average salary over the last 15 years. Do you see the dipping point at the end? I believe this is a marker that the pharmacist wage is becoming stagnant. Does it mean that pharmacist salary is decreasing?

No.

It may mean that pharmacist salaries are not increases for new grads. I’ve heard multiple “stories” confirming this theory. However, no solid evidence exists to confirm that pharmacists are seeing scary salary decreases.

Let’s move on to another source.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 5.31.50 AM

 

 

 

 

They found the average debt accrued was $133,694 ($152,901 for private institutions)

The average salary has risen since 2002 from $75,000 to $112,000.

 

U.S. News

The U.S. News creates yearly updates on the pharmacy job market and salary reports.

Important 2013 findings:

Average Salary: $119,280Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 5.42.49 AM

“The best-paid 10 percent made $147,350, while the lowest-paid made $89,000.”

Okay, this is similar results from our “scientific” article above. The number may be biased and bloated, in my opinion, because this website is an advertiser, not an “unbiased” author like that above. Also, no sources are listed for their salary report. While I appreciate the graph, I’m not convinced the average is this elevated.

Also, do you see the leveling off of the graph to the right? Another indicator of the average pharmacist salary leveling off. Does this mean our salaries will decrease. Unlikely. But it may mean that new grads will be offered less money for starting positions. Let’s move on to our next source.

 

Pharmacy Week 2014 Compensation Survey

Our next resource is from a friend of mine Kevin Mero from Pharmacy Week. I like this resource because it is frequently updated (every 6 months) and provides a vast array of information on pharmacists in different fields. I will use the report from 2014 for this post.

Important info:

Position Title(s)

$ Hourly Base Pay Wgtd Mean

$ Annualized Base Pay Wgtd Mean*

Pharmacy Team Mgr 67.29 140.0
Staff Pharmacist – Retail 58.81 122.3
Staff Pharmacist – Hospital 60.12 125.0
Staff Pharmacist – Healthcare Retail/Satellite 57.52 119.7
Staff Pharmacist – Mail-order/PBM 56.69 117.9
Clinical Pharmacist 61.28 127.5
Nuclear Pharmacist 58.02 120.7
Staff Pharmacist – Retail, Staff Pharmacist – Hospital, Staff Pharmacist – Healthcare Retail/Satellite, Staff Pharmacist – Mail-order/PBM, Clinical Pharmacist, Nuclear Pharmacist 59.83 124.4

*I removed some of the information (like how many organizations surveyed) to make the data easy to consume.

A few caveats to understand with this survey. This information (as far as I can tell) is from organizations, NOT individual pharmacists.

Another fact : 256 Organizations Surveyed (335,688 “observations represented”). Certain organizations may be providing the bulk of the information, while other smaller companies may be underrepresented.

You can check more of the survey out (most helpful resource IMO) by clicking here.

 

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Difficult to say if the BLS is biased here 😉

Important info:

2012 Median Pay : $116,670 per year

$56.09 per hour

Lowest 10% earned less than $89,280

Top 10% earned more than $145,910

Other general merchandise stores $128,910
Department stores $120,540
Pharmacies and drug stores $117,850
Grocery stores $116,000
Hospitals; state, local, and private $114,100

Somewhat similar results compared to Pharmacy Week’s Survey.

Interesting tidbit :
Number of jobs available in 2012 was 286,400. They predict from 2012 to 2022, the job market will increase by 14% (apparently average in comparison to other industries) and the number of jobs will increase by 41,400.

Also interesting to note that the number of PharmDs graduating yearly (in the last 4-5 years) has been around 12,000-14,000.

I would love to find accurate information about the number of pharmacists retiring or leaving the profession yearly, because I wonder about our profession’s potential saturation.

Drug Topics 2015 Survey

They polled 1,987 pharmacists (small sample size in comparison to other resources above) and found…

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 6.18.23 AMrelatively the same info as the others… but these numbers are somewhat higher than previous reports.

You could argue that these numbers are slightly higher than reality because the numbers are from pharmacists. One may speculate they increase their reported salary to stroke their ego… Not a farfetched thought, but I assume that these reports are mildly accurate.

 

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

Academics, in general, make the least amount starting salary. However, there are better opportunities for pay increases in academia with promotions (unlike retail and hospital). Aacp.com stats the assistant professor starts around $103,100. Which, I feel is higher than truth. I base this on reports from my colleagues who entered in academia (so yes, I’m biased).

 

What about after taxes?

The six-figure income is pretty to look at. It even feels good to say. Six-figures…

But that isn’t reality.

Uncle Sam takes a significant portion away from your pockets.

You can expect anywhere from $75,000 to $80,000 if your base salary is $115,000. Essentially, you receive around 2/3 of your earned income.

 

But does the money really matter?

Money won’t buy happiness.

If you don’t believe me check out some of the “unhappy” pharmacist blogs on the webz. They all are easily making well over $100,000 a year but sound very unhappy.

In fact, I found one interesting study that says once a person’s salary increases over the poverty level, the level of happiness doesn’t necessarily increase significantly after.

 

This is why you should pursue pharmacy ONLY IF you believe that you’ll love it.

Pharmacy isn’t for everyone.

In fact, there are thousands of pharmacists who hate their jobs. Check out the doom and gloom on these forums.

If you are considering pharmacy as your profession, be sure to validate that you will love pharmacy. Picture yourself doing a pharmacist job for the rest of your life.

 

Bottom Line:

New grads can expect anywhere from $110,000 to $116,000 starting FULL TIME.

I capitalize full time because of recent stories I’m hearing. New grads are being tricked by corporations (not all-inclusive). One pharmacist told me she was told “full-time”, but only allotted 32 hours/week. Thus, she doesn’t make a full time salary and lacks benefits.

Be aware of the position offered and what income you agree to when you take your first job.

Would you like to see my income and budget?

I don’t share this with the public, only those who are a part of the VIP group.

To check out my detailed income and budget report, join below

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