By Katherine Cobb
Practicing pharmacists Renee Bogdan ’09, Han Feng ’13, Kevin Morgan ’01 and Lisa Shelton-Strucko ’03 offer professional advice for pharmacy students. These career tips originated from panel discussions at the Sixth Annual Alumni Roundtable sponsored by Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy and the Alumni Association on Oct. 19, 2017.
- Get Involved.
Become a member of at least one of the many professional organizations available to you. You will be able to cultivate interpersonal skills that will serve you as you transition from a student pharmacist to a professional.
- Embrace Change.
A career in pharmacy involves remaining nimble and keeping an open mind. The role of the pharmacist has evolved over the years and now pharmacists routinely provide immunizations, medication therapy management and clinical services. Be willing to keep learning throughout your career, and keep up with the literature.
- Find Mentors.
Reach out to faculty members as mentors and cultivate professional relationships inside and outside the university. Maintain these connections throughout your career. Many of the best opportunities will “find you” through your network in the profession of pharmacy.
- Expand Your Interests.
Take full advantage of the opportunities that come your way and always be willing to learn from anyone with whom you come in contact. You never know when trying something new could turn into a lifelong passion. Distinguish yourself by becoming well rounded.
- Serve Others.
Volunteer and be involved in your community. Pharmacists are often an integral part of the communities they serve. You can prepare yourself for this role by participating in community service activities while you are in school.
- Build Your Network.
Network while you are in school and you can utilize those connections as you transition into your career. Word of mouth can open many doors, so if you have an interest in an organization or a particular practice setting, get to know the people who work in that area. Utilize your university’s contacts. Reach out to alumni with shared interests and then get out there and meet those who can help you to get to where you want to go. The world of pharmacy is small and networking is key.
- Communicate Skillfully.
Strong communication skills are paramount in pharmacy practice, no matter which path you take. Pharmacists must communicate effectively with diverse patients as well as other healthcare professionals. Clinical knowledge is essential but the ability to communicate in a professional manner is equally important. Study hard and be sure to seek out opportunities to practice your written and verbal communication skills.
- Challenge Yourself.
Keep track of your goals and you will be amazed at the challenges you can overcome. Choose clinical experiences that challenge you and expand your knowledge. Consider taking electives that help you become clinically diverse.
- Stay on the Cutting Edge.
Don’t undervalue drug information skills. No matter what pharmacy career path you pursue, be sure to keep up with the current literature. Pharmacy is a rapidly changing field and it is important to be a lifelong learner.
- Consider a Dual Degree
The business and management skills in the PharmD/MBA dual degree may be very beneficial in a variety of pharmacy settings, especially if you plan to own your own pharmacy or pursue a managerial position. This program can also help prepare you for a career as an administrator, consultant, or executive in a health care system. Shenandoah University offers the Dual PharmD/MBA and you will earn both degrees simultaneously during your four years of pharmacy school. Find out more at https://www.su.edu/pharmacy/programs/pharmd-mba/
Interested in attending, or learning more about pharmacy school in Virginia?Check out Shenandoah University’s Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy