When you’re fighting the hordes for a place in a pharmacy graduate program, you’ve got to stand out. You may have most of the same credentials as your competition, so you need to take extra measures to ensure you get selected. Stand out from the rest of the student body by getting involved in professional pharmacist organizations, excelling in your coursework and getting as much hands-on experience as you can.
Stand out as a Student
Participate in professional organizations, such as the American Pharmacists Association. Participation shows that you are committed to the profession. In addition to getting yourself known throughout the industry, you can find extra training and additional opportunities through the group.
Land a part-time job in a pharmacy or medical facility to bring a little experience to your coursework. Any and all related experience will set you apart and give you an edge during the admissions process.
Take advantage of research projects that come up for pharmacy students. If you can get yourself published, or at least be part of a team that gets published, you’ll stand out when it comes time for residency and graduate admissions.
Clarify your career goals and create a path that varies from the crowded student body. Gear your education goals toward geriatric medicine or compounding, holistic medicinal treatments or rural pharmaceutical solutions. Pharmacy schools look for candidates who can fill the needs and demands in the marketplace.
Stand out Professionally
Stick with the professional groups you joined while in school. Through those organizations, you’ll get opportunities to tackle committee appointments and make your leadership skills known. Take continuing-education courses to beef up your resume, and make important connections in the industry.
Stay involved in your alumni association, too. There, you can stand out by mentoring upcoming pharmacists as well as taking leadership roles and keeping your name in front of the movers and shakers in the industry. Offer to speak at events and write articles for the alumni newsletter.
Write papers about any research you might be involved in or about your experiences on the job. Submit them to associations and professional journals. Post the papers on your social media sites or start a blog that you send out to fellow pharmacists or students.
Talk to local reporters. Let the health reporter at your local paper or a regional magazine editor know that you will serve as an expert when they need a quote on a new drug or a new FDA policy statement. The more press you get, the more you’ll stand out in your community and among your peers.
Expand your offerings at your pharmacy by getting accreditations for other services. According to the Pharmacy Times, more pharmacists stand out in their communities by offering clinical services such as medical therapy management and diabetes management.
- American College of Clinical Pharmacy: Field Guide to Becoming a Standout Pharmacy Residency Candidate
- Pharmacists Job Connection: If They Like Me, They’ll Hire Me
- RX Relief: Be Original
- Pharmacy Times: Pharmacy Job Trends
- National Community Pharmacists Association: Community Pharmacist Spotlight
- American Pharmacists Association: Community Pharmacy Residency Program
- University of California: Reports from the Pharm
- If you’re just getting ready to graduate, stick around an extra year and do a residency. The experience and commitment will make you stand out when you do hit the market and find yourself competing with other new graduates.
- Don’t relegate yourself to only the traditional paths as you create a stand-out career. Spend some time in non-traditional workplaces like drug-review agencies and mail order pharmacies.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."