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Why I Choose Pharmacy: Fulfilling Her Purpose in Life

Meet Karine Keshishyan, a pharmacy student at West Coast University, graduating in 2023. Karine has always known that she would end up in the medical field and has found pharmacy to be uniquely rewarding. Learn more about Karine’s journey to pharmacy school.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in pharmacy?

I always knew I wanted to pursue something in the medical field because my purpose in life is to help others. It’s a very rewarding career because pharmacists play a crucial role in helping patients get and feel better. Pharmacy is a diverse career with many different opportunities, such as working in a hospital, ambulatory care, community, compounding, and even academia.  

What about your path to pharmacy school is unique?

Like most students over these past few years, my pharmacy school path was online most of the time. I met everyone during the first semester of my first year, and that following March, everything was shut down and transitioned to online learning. It was very hard not to be amongst so many new friends that felt like family. One minute you’re studying with a group or asking questions to professors, and the next, you’re all by yourself in front of Zoom for hours on end. During the first week of school, I remember a few staff members saying that pharmacy school is not easy, and I would brush it off and think to myself, “I got this.” Let me tell you that when they say it isn’t easy, they are not joking, but it’s worth it. 

How did you choose your school of pharmacy?

I applied to several schools of pharmacy. West Coast University was the first school interview I received, and I decided to attend. Getting that first interview was one of the proudest moments in my life. When I received my offer from West Coast University, I was so excited about it because it was local, it was a new and outstanding school, and I felt like I could be a good candidate for the program. I canceled my interviews at other schools of pharmacy and accepted my offer to West Coast University.

Did you have any mentors that helped you as you explored possible career paths?

I did not have any mentors that helped me explore possible career paths. I started exploring different careers that interested me by volunteering to see what I liked and disliked. I was so passionate about health and body movement and had my mind set on physical therapy until I volunteered over the summer and realized it was not for me. Health and exercise are more of a hobby for me, not a career choice. 

What is your favorite part of pharmacy school?

My favorite part of pharmacy school is the fantastic new friends I made along the way. They are the best support system. All the relationships I’ve built will last a lifetime because I know we will always be there for one another. I also believe that through all the interprofessional work and activities, pharmacy school made me more of a people person. It prepares you to be more confident in everything you do in the workplace.

What do you find most challenging about pharmacy school?

The most challenging aspect of pharmacy school is finding a balance in life, and I learned this the hard way. The transition from an undergraduate to a graduate program was not easy, and it was tough to adapt to new study habits. So far, this has been the most challenging few years of my life, from planning a wedding, getting married, moving out, losing loved ones, and grieving, all while having to study for an exam every Monday morning. I always remind myself that this is temporary, and all the hard work, endless study nights, and tears shed will pay off in the end.

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

The best advice I would give is to find that balance in life. Review material from the same day so that you don’t fall behind in lectures, and don’t be afraid to ask questions in class or ask your peers for help. There’s so much help offered, such as free tutoring. Your professors are also there for you. Know that it’s not easy, but you can do it if you put your mind to it. Lastly, make the most of your experience because it doesn’t last forever. 

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