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Chicago State University College of Pharmacy
Pros vs. Cons of Working During Pharmacy School

by Dezaray McDonald, P3

As an eager and naïve pre-pharmacy student I placed importance on having a job prior to applying to pharmacy programs because I was under the impression that not having this experience would make me less competitive. I feared that not having experience as a technician would decrease my chances of getting accepted. If you are a student feeling pressured to land a technician position, my hope is that these pros and cons will help put things into perspective. 

I want to begin by explaining the benefits of working during pharmacy school. Firstly, it allows you to work with pharmacists and make personal connections with them. Establishing positive relationships could potentially increase your probability of obtaining a good employment recommendation after graduation. This networking opportunity is invaluable and can be beneficial for other ventures such as participation in professional organizations. All students have heard the following phrase at least once, “pharmacy is a small world”; thus, positive networking is essential. Secondly, the on-the-job experience while still a student is a great way to gain insight into your expectations once you become a pharmacist. Thirdly, having exposure to the drugs as they are dispensed can certainly be useful as you learn about them in the classroom. Next, if you happen to work in the community pharmacy setting, whenever a patient approaches the consultation window, this represents an opportunity for you to apply counseling skills learned in school. This exposure will help better prepare you for APPEs and practice as a pharmacist. Lastly, having a part-time position in addition to school forces one into having better time management and organizational skills. 

One major disadvantage of holding a job is of course the time spent away from studying. If you are not able to successfully balance your time both studying and working, then you will have to truthfully evaluate the need for having a job. Since everyone has different financial situations, the decision to work while in school has to be a personalized one. In the community pharmacy setting for instance, in certain districts they have minimum required hours per week, ranging from 8-15 hours per week. Based on my personal community pharmacy experience, I was required to work 12 hours per week. I decided working that many hours, in addition to school, and volunteering with organizations on campus was too much for me. Thus, I made the decision to end my employment. However, as stated, everyone is different; you have to do what is ultimately best for you! 

When assessing the benefits and disadvantages of having a job while in school, think about what is best for your education. Your situation may change from year to year, depending on your course load. 

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