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Why I Choose Pharmacy: A Non-Traditional Path to Pharmacy School

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Jackline Muia is a third-year pharmacy student at Manchester University. Inspired by her family of healthcare workers, Jackline has taken a non-traditional path to pharmacy school and earned a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration prior to her pharmacy journey. Read along to learn more about Jackline’s path to the pharmacy field.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in pharmacy?

I come from a family of healthcare workers (my four siblings are nurses). I have always looked up to them and wanted to follow in their footsteps and positively impact patient care. Pairing this with my fascination with the medical profession, specifically on how drugs treat different disease states, made pursuing a career in pharmacy the perfect path for me.  

What about your path to pharmacy school is unique?

One unique aspect of my pharmacy school journey is that I did not take the traditional route of completing pre-pharmacy courses or attaining a bachelor’s degree in sciences immediately after graduating high school. I knew I wanted to be in the medical field, and therefore I earned a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration. While working as a residential manager at a long-term care facility, I often interacted with pharmacists. I appreciated their crucial role in the care continuum of patients with comorbid conditions by managing their complex medications and reviewing their clinical needs. This solidified my interest in pursuing a career in pharmacy.  

How did you choose your school of pharmacy?

Initially, I was interested in applying to Manchester University out of convenience, as I lived in Fort Wayne and wanted to stay close to my family and friends. However, after attending the PharmD prospective event organized by Manchester University’s Admissions Committee, I knew that this is the school that would enable me to meet both my current and future career goals. The school provided an exceptional program that would expand my knowledge and skills and enable me to be well-equipped to bring both innovation and value to 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 a friend who is a clinical pharmacist. He had been highly supportive of me and had encouraged me to pursue a career in pharmacy as he thought I had what it takes to be a great pharmacist. Being a Manchester alumnus, he assisted me throughout my application process and wrote a recommendation letter for me. 

What is your favorite part of pharmacy school?

My favorite part of pharmacy school is applying what I have learned in school to real-life situations. During my IPPE I and II rotations under the supervision of my preceptors, I had the opportunity to counsel patients on medications, administer vaccinations such as the COVID-19 vaccine, and carry out screening tests. During these experiences, I witnessed the impact that pharmacists have on the healthcare field. This makes all the studying in pharmacy school worthwhile. I am so excited about my APPE rotations next year! 

What do you find most challenging about pharmacy school?

The most challenging thing about pharmacy school is time management. The curriculum can be overwhelming as you are taught a lot of material that you must retain for exams. Combining that with other activities beyond academics, such as student organizations, family responsibilities, and holding a part-time job, makes it even more challenging. I quickly realized that staying organized and being realistic with my time would help me avoid being overwhelmed and be successful in pharmacy school. So, I started waking up early and purchased a calendar in which I wrote absolutely everything on it, such as exams, meetings, work shifts, and due dates, which have proved essential in my success in pharmacy school. 

What advice would you give to students interested in attending pharmacy school?

Pharmacy is a rewarding profession to consider. Pharmacists are one of the most trusted and respected professions in healthcare and are easily accessible. You can take many avenues in pharmacy, so the best way to determine which route or even if pharmacy is the right career for you is by getting as much exposure to these fields as you can before and while in pharmacy school. This will help you with life and career choices when you graduate. 

Most importantly, while academics are important and will take a lot of your time, it is essential to be a well-rounded student by participating in pharmacy organizations and volunteering in the community to gain the knowledge and clinical skills you will need to be a competent pharmacist upon entering the workforce.  

Want to read more student pharmacist stories?

Ani’s story about her pathway to pharmacy school is inspirational! If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy these student pharmacist stories:

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