The decision to attend pharmacy school and pursue a career in pharmacy is often life changing. Because of this, pharmacy students arrive at this decision in unique ways and for unique reasons.
We think it’s important to showcase the various paths to pharmacy. So, we’re launching a new ongoing series on our blog called Why I Chose Pharmacy. For this series, we’re connecting with pharmacy students all over the country to find out why they chose to pursue a career in the industry.
To kick things off, we interviewed Dhiren Patel. Dhiren is a P4 (otherwise known as a fourth-year pharmacy student) at Touro College of Pharmacy in New York City. He’s sharing the details about why he chose to pursue a career in pharmacy, as well as some advice for students interested in following suit.
Take it away, Dhiren!
Why did you choose to pursue a career in pharmacy?
I chose pharmacy as my career path because chemistry and how medications work are topics that have always intrigued me. Additionally, my uncle is a pharmacist, so I had some exposure to the field. And, finally, I had the opportunity to work as a pharmacy technician at Eckerd Drugs, which eventually became Rite Aid and is now Walgreens, early on in my professional life.
What about your path to pharmacy school is unique?
My path to pharmacy school was an uphill battle. Because of family obligations, I attended a local college to obtain the prerequisites necessary to apply to pharmacy school. After completing my prerequisites, I decided to pursue my bachelor’s degree in biology.
Once I completed my bachelor’s degree—and while working three jobs—I began applying to pharmacy schools. My dream came true when I found out that I was accepted into two of these schools.
Initially, my plan was to pursue a PharmD program that was close to home in Georgia. But, unfortunately, family obligations and unexpected circumstances required me to put the pursuit of my dream on a brief hold. During this time, I managed a small business.
During my two-year pause, family and friends asked why I still planned to pursue pharmacy school. They felt that it would be easier for me to continue running a business at this point. But, despite the questioning thoughts, I never gave up on my goal of attending pharmacy school and graduating with my PharmD.
And, in 2015, I officially made the decision to attend Touro College of Pharmacy.
How did you choose your school of pharmacy?
I applied to a variety of pharmacy schools throughout the east coast because I wasn’t totally sure where I wanted to land. There was the possibility of attending school in Georgia, which was close to my family. I also applied to pharmacy schools close to Massachusetts—where my fiance lived. And finally, my final option was to attend pharmacy school near New York City, which was a good compromise.
When I found out that I had been accepted into the program at Touro College of Pharmacy in New York City, I was thrilled! Not only would I be closer to my fiance, but I was also very excited about the 2+2 program that TCOP offered.
Essentially, this unique program meant that I would have two years of academic work and two years of experiential rotation. This allowed me to obtain an increased amount of hands-on training before making my way into the field.
Did you have any mentors that helped you as you explored possible career paths?
Once I decided to pursue a career in pharmacy, I connected with my local community pharmacist at CVS. Her name is Christi Brown. Dr. Brown has always been extremely supportive of me, and has encouraged me to pursue my goals.
Throughout my application process, Dr. Brown answered questions and even wrote recommendation letters for me. After reviewing some of my work, she also provided a great boost of confidence by assuring me that I’d make a great pharmacist!
What is your favorite part of pharmacy school?
There are so many aspects of pharmacy school that I enjoy! A few favorites include:
- Getting to know classmates and making new friends
- Giving and receiving support from classmates to constantly improve
- Learning new strategies for studying that I’ll be able to carry with my into my career
- Working together to create encouraging environments, especially during difficult exam weeks
All of these experiences are helping to form me into a better person and pharmacist. I know that I will complete pharmacy school with a strong education, and with a great group of lifelong friends!
What do you find most challenging about pharmacy school?
The most challenging parts of pharmacy school so far were the early semesters when I was beginning my life as a student. During this time, I was adjusting to a brand new living situation, learning how to commute from Long Island to New York City, working, taking classes, and studying. Needless to say, there was a lot going on!
To be honest, it was very difficult at first. I needed to find the proper balance of my time in order to be successful in my classes. Because I wasn’t able to cut down on my commute or work time, I had to get creative.
This is when I found a way to download the recorded class lectures onto my phone. I’d maximize the time I spent commuting by listening to these lectures to reinforce the material. It was my way of studying during a time I wouldn’t typically be able to do so. This hack helped me improve my test scores!
Overall, this helped me to find that perfect balance between pharmacy school and my other commitments, which is essential for success.
What advice would you give to students interested in attending pharmacy school?
My advice for students interested in pursuing pharmacy school and a career in the field would be to go for it! I’d encourage them not to give up.
Additionally, I’d encourage them to explore the many different career options available in the field. Pharmacists can work in retail, hospitals, industry, medical agencies hired by pharma companies, and more!
And finally, I’d tell them that, while the pharmacy industry is competitive, the world will always need pharmacists. And, with innovation from future pharmacists like them, the career and field will only continue to grow.
Dhiren’s story is an inspiring one. He reminds us that, with a little hard work and perseverance, pursuing a dream career is within reach! Thanks so much, Dhiren, for sharing your experiences as a pharmacy student.
If you’re a student interested in pursuing pharmacy school, explore our website to learn why the industry may be a great fit for you!