Although the thought of an intern might conjure up an image of some poor office grunt fetching coffee, you'll probably be too busy during your pharmacy internship for any of that nonsense. From filling prescriptions to handling the phones and chatting with doctors, you'll experience the life of a pharmacist and learn what it takes to become one. Each state has different requirements on how to apply for a pharmacy internship.
As a pharmacy intern, you won't ever have to worry about drowning in boredom from repeating the same tasks over and over. Compounding and weighing ingredients, dispensing medication, processing refills and attaching the proper warning labels to medication serve as a few examples of your medicinal duties. You'll also interact with customers throughout the day, answering their questions, providing consultation and providing them with instructions on how to administer their medicines. A licensed pharmacist will serve as your supervisor. Some pharmacies -- especially retail pharmacies -- may also train you on how to manage and run a pharmacy. Interns may learn in steps which correspond with their current enrollment year in pharmacy school. For example, you may learn the basics of the pharmacy in year one and then learn about dispensing medication in year two.
Aside from the skills and knowledge you'll learn in pharmacy school, such as drug information, excelling as an intern requires excellent communication skills, an eye for detail and the ability to multitask. You'll spend much of your day communicating with other employees in the pharmacy, doctors and customers. Unclear communication can lead to dangerous consequences, such as dispensing the wrong medication or giving a customer incorrect instructions. Lacking attention to detail can lead to similar consequences, as you'll need to be aware of what medication you're dispensing and a customer's potential interactions with that medication. Multitasking is commonplace in pharmacies, with interns required to field calls, take notes, confirm medication dosage and juggle other tasks at the same time.
Accept an internship at a pharmacy and your feet, legs and back probably won't be too happy. Interns are on their feet for most of the day, and their days often last the typical eight hours. Some states set a minimum number of hours per week interns must work to receive credit, and others set a maximum allowed to be credited for one week. For example, Georgia requires interns to complete at least 20 hours per week, while Pennsylvania allows a maximum of 50 hours to be credited. On the positive side, you'll enjoy the comfort of heating and air conditioning, as you'll work indoors. The workplace might be somewhat noisy, on account of phone calls and the surrounding area, such as that of a retail store.
To become a pharmacy intern, you'll need to satisfy your state's requirements. Some states require you to complete a certain number of years of pharmacy school -- typically one or two -- while other states certify applicants in their first year. You'll also need to fill out applications and forms, which also vary by state. Your school will assist in securing your internship with a pharmacy.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.