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The Road From Pharmacy Technician to Pharmacist

pharmacy technician

Pharmacy student Kari Allan worked as a pharmacy technician before she decided to enroll in pharmacy school. She loved the quick pace of hospitals and how pharmacists were the first people that anyone called when they needed help with medication. Read our full interview with Kari below.

What attracted you to pharmacy over other healthcare professions?

I really liked that pharmacists could spend time helping both patients and other healthcare providers in their work. I wanted to choose a career in medicine, for sure, but I wanted to work with all kinds of people which being a pharmacist will allow me to do.

When did you know you wanted to be a pharmacist?

I worked first as a pharmacy technician and absolutely loved being in a hospital environment where everything moves very quickly. The pharmacists were the first people that anyone called when they needed help with medication, and they knew so much that they were able to help everyone who needed it. I wanted to work at that level, so I decided to continue on to a PharmD program.

What type of pharmacist do you aspire to be?

I hope to be a pharmacy specialist working in a hospital. I really like working in a pediatric hospital and also the emergency room, so I would love to end up as a pharmacist in one of those places.

How did you go about deciding what pharmacy school was right for you?

For me, location was a huge factor in where I decided to go to Midwestern University College of Pharmacy – Glendale. Also, I chose my school because it put a lot of emphasis on helping students develop professionalism and how to critically solve problems in addition to basic pharmaceutical knowledge.

What do you love most about pharmacy school?

My favorite part has actually been getting involved with pharmacy organizations at my school and at the national level. I think it has taught me how to be a leader and to understand pharmacy as a profession, things that I think will make me a better pharmacist in the future. Plus, the memories I have made with my peers and at conferences are some of the best that I have of pharmacy school.

Has anyone helped you get where you are now? How did they help?

Of course! My family has always been very supportive of my desire to go to pharmacy school and they know to buy me Starbucks and chocolate when school gets overwhelming. I also had a manager during my first job at a hospital who believed that I could become a pharmacist and encouraged me every step of the way. Sometimes, all you need is someone to tell you that they think you can make it, and I have been very lucky to have people like that in my life.

Are you able to collaborate with your pharmacy peers? How?

Absolutely! Your fellow student pharmacists become your best friends, because they offer support and work with you all the time during school and rotations. Everyone has different strengths, and areas that they know a lot about. If you make connections with your peers, you can learn from them and also help them to grow at the same time.

When you’re not studying, what do you do for fun?

I love hiking and camping; basically anything outdoors. When I have the time, I also like to catch up on my (non-school) reading list and eat a lot of sushi.

What was the best advice someone gave you in high school?

My theater teacher told me that you have to be bigger than your fear. Fear will always be there—of failure, of new experiences, even sometimes fear of people—but you can absolutely move past that if you let yourself. She said that you just have to decide that you don’t care very much about how afraid you are, and your experiences will be incredible.

What advice would you give a high schooler, as it pertains to pursuing a career in pharmacy?

Talk to some people that are pharmacists right now, and know that pharmacists work in all kinds of places. Just take a look at what you might want to do within pharmacy to see if it’s right for you. Also, take some time to develop skills in things like public speaking and making presentations. Those help so much later on in pharmacy!

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