20 Top Ten Things I need to do to Get to Pharmacy School

Libby Lukens and Anonymous

Editor’s Note: This was written by two other anonymous students.

I.          Research Pharmacy Schools

One of the most important things to do while trying to become a pharmacist is to research about future potential pharmacy schools. Each school’s requirements may be different so it is important to know what classes you are required to take and which classes will help with background knowledge that needs to be known.

Pharmacy schools are different across the country so when you are looking at future schools, you should look at a variety of factors such as cost, required classes, environment, and the percentage of students who get jobs after they graduate. After you graduate from Pharmacy School, you are required to take a licensure test to ensure you are prepared for the job so looking at their pass percentage among students will also show how the curriculum prepared students for a job in the field.

For more information about pharmacy schools, please visit:


II.          Job Shadow a Pharmacist Job shadowing is an important involvement needed to be completed by a college student. There are many options pertaining to the location of where you would like to shadow such as different pharmacy locations: Rite Aid, Walmart, Walgreens, etc. You could even shadow in a hospital or a local nursing home, just enough time to allow yourself to have experience in the environment and the field you are interested in and want to pursue and potentially have as a career. Job shadowing can also allow yourself, as a student, to start building your resume. Having that proof of experience on your resume can set you apart from others because the pharmacy world is very competitive, just like anything in the medical field, and the more information and experience you have on that resume can help you in your future. Job shadowing is something I plan to do this summer to gain some experience and a better understanding on whether I want to have this particular career in my future.

III.          Volunteer

Volunteering is a great experience for students to help their community and learn more about themselves. Students can volunteer anytime throughout the year; volunteering opportunities are very easy to find. Volunteering allows students to serve their community with the skills they possess while also learning more about what they do, and don’t like to do. Many students that volunteer receive pleasure from knowing they helped with something that is bigger than they are. Volunteering is also good to include in resumes because it shows that you are willing to help people in any way possible.

IV.          Get involved

Getting involved during college is one of the most important things that a student can do. There are many opportunities available at the University of Pikeville to get involved across campus such as joining a sport, clubs centered around your major (such as Biology club or Social Work), Greek Life, Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), and many other things.

Clubs are great to join because they make up a good resume by showing that you were involved and are a well-rounded student. By getting involved, you can also discover new passions that you may not have known about and meet new people that will become lifelong friends.

V.          Accumulate Recommendation Letters

No matter which pharmacy school you choose, having letters of recommendation is crucial to your application process. It is extremely important to create relationships with people who would happily write letters for you. As you go through school, make sure that you talk with your teachers about your future plans and goals and gain assurance that will be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. Additionally, many schools prefer that you get a letter of recommendation from a pharmacist, which makes job shadowing even more important.

Recommendation letters from your teachers and others that have worked with you are very important because they talk about your character and work ethic, both of which are important to schools that are reading applications.


VI.          Take the PCAT

The PCAT is a test that students in college have to take if they want to become a Pharmacist. It is the Pharmacy college admission test. Most students, in particular, who already know what career they want to pursue or have an idea of what they want to become start preparing for this exam right away. Some colleges such as, the Appalachian College of Pharmacy, do not require you to take the exam before your attendance at the college itself.

The PCAT is a total of 220 minutes (almost four hours long), which includes your fifteen minute rest break. It is split up into five sections: Writing, Biology, Chemistry, Critical reading, and Quantitative reasoning. Each section has the same amount of questions (forty-eight) and involves one writing prompt. This test is specifically for pharmacy students and has increasing preparation rates to the passing charts. Actually, the passing percentages have increased in the last little bit due to colleges and yourself, individually, getting yourself prepared for it in the future. The PCAT requirements are different for every college because some require you to have taken and passed the test before trying to attend pharmacy school while others do not require having taken it beforehand.

VII.          Apply for Internships/REU Programs

Internships and Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU Programs) are great programs for undergraduates to experience. Internships are jobs for students that are often unpaid and help to gain work experience in their field and satisfy qualifications while REU Programs are apart of a foundation in which students can get paid to work in a specific job field.

REU Programs are tailored around science and students must apply and be accepted for a specific position; they last for around 6-8 weeks and are only available in a student’s freshman and sophomore summers. REU programs are great for fields that are constantly advancing, such as medicine, because students will be able to see exactly what they will be doing in the future. There are Research Experiences for Undergraduates in varying topics such as Chemistry, Engineering, and Biological Sciences along with each topic having more specific subjects.

Internships are available throughout the whole year while REU Programs are tailored specifically for the summer. Internships also can provide different paths, students can use it to explore different career paths, obtain a good experience, or work in a position they will eventually work a full-time job at. Another benefit of internships is that they serve as reality-tests and can determine if someone truly likes their chosen field, applies knowledge from courses for real-world experience, and helps develop skills necessary for students.

Both programs are great for students to gain experience in their field of study, build connections with future possible employers, and visit different states.

For more information on REU Programs and Internships please visit:



VIII.          Participate in a Study Abroad

Study Abroad programs are programs designed for students to be able to travel the world and see the different cultures while also learning about a specific subject. The University of Pikeville partners with the Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS), to send students across the world on sponsored trips. Each trip that is taken gives the opportunity for a student to take up to two, three-credit classes for anywhere from a week to a semester-long. Courses included in the study abroad program include Art and Design, in Italy, Mythology in Greece, Introduction to French Culture I in Paris, Introduction to Japanese Culture in Japan, Latin American Thought and Philosophy in Costa Rica, along with many other courses in many different countries.

Study Abroad programs are a great experience for all students and should be highly considered by everyone. The KIIS study abroad program is tailored so each student gains knowledge in other cultures and increase their confidence and leadership. Study abroad programs are a great choice for students looking to continue their education after undergraduate and it serves as a great talking point during interviews. Although the trip can be seen as expensive, there are many scholarships available for students that will cut down, if not pay the whole cost of the trip.

For more information on Study Abroad Programs, please visit:



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The Survival Guide to the University of Pikeville by Libby Lukens and Anonymous is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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