Meet Orhan Khalilpour, a rising fourth-year pharmacy student at West Coast University in Los Angeles, California. Orhan drew inspiration from his mentors and relatives in health professions to choose a career in pharmacy and has been grateful for the support from his family and fiancé.
Why did you choose to pursue a career in pharmacy?
I come from a family of healthcare workers. I was always naturally inclined to have a passion for understanding medications and their indications. One of the most important professions is becoming a doctor to save people from potentially life-threatening illnesses. Medical doctors are not able to treat patients or prevent harm without the use of medications. Pharmacists play a very vital role in disease prevention and treatment. I cannot imagine choosing a more rewarding career than a career as a pharmacist. The past year has taught us how vital the role of medications and vaccines are to preserving human life. This further reinforced my desire to become a pharmacist.
What did your pathway to pharmacy school look like?
My path to pharmacy school has not been short of its challenges. For starters, I moved to this country eight years ago, and my path to becoming a pharmacist began shortly thereafter. English was my second language, and medical lingo felt like a third. As if the admission process is not arduous, to begin with, I had to endure it twice. I was accepted to the only pharmacy school I applied to, which was out of state. I initially chose this program because it was a three-year curriculum as opposed to the more traditional four. To get accepted the first time to the university of my choice was a huge accomplishment. However, since family is very important to me, I was obligated to move back to California to be near them. For this reason, I was forced to reapply to pharmacy schools in Los Angeles for the following application year. I was accepted to most of the schools that I applied to.
How did you choose your school of pharmacy?
I selected West Coast University to stay local and be in close proximity to my loved ones. Pharmacy school can be challenging, and the support of my family is vital for maintaining my mental and physical health. I was also adamant about not having to commute a long distance daily. That can have a taxing effect and is time-consuming in a traffic-infiltrated city such as Los Angeles. In pharmacy school, time management is a necessity since time is so scarce.
Did you have any mentors that helped you as you explored possible career paths?
Successful pharmacists I have met along the way who take part in inpatient treatments and research for novel drugs have been my mentors. That is a similar path I want to take as a pharmacist. My fiancé is a medical provider, and she has been my mentor from the beginning and a large part of why I chose this career. My favorite part of pharmacy school is the extensive and useful knowledge I’ve obtained. It has opened my eyes and mind to how to navigate treatment paths, healthcare systems, and much more. I now fully realize the extensive roles pharmacists play. Also, I am now a part of a community of essential workers who save lives on a daily basis.
What do you find most challenging about pharmacy school?
The most challenging part of pharmacy school is time management. You are given an incredible amount of material to learn. Nothing is difficult in context; it is the amount of information required to retain that is very demanding. Depending on the school, administrative systems and the various teaching methods can also take time to become accustomed to.
What advice would you give to students interested in attending pharmacy school?
From the admission process to succeeding in your courses, organization and time management are key. It is a lot of work. Make sure you are sure about the career choice prior to taking out a hefty loan. Shadow a pharmacist in at least two different settings to ensure that it is something you see yourself doing in the long term. The profession is not one to take lightly, and it holds a great responsibility on a daily basis. It entails so much more work than what it appears from the outside.
Want to read more student pharmacist stories?
Orhan’s story about his pathway to pharmacy is inspirational! If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy these student pharmacist stories: