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Building Pre-Pharmacy Experience Over the Summer

May 4, 2017
Krystal Hughes

Use the summer to grow your pre-pharmacy experience.

Warmer months ahead mean extra time to focus on your goals.

As finals creep closer with every passing day, so the anticipation for summer break grows. If you are a pre-health major planning to apply to pharmacy school, you know a break isn’t always a true break. Although there are no class assignments or group projects to do, you still need to remain active in order to remain competitive.

Planning your summer as a pre-pharmacy student

Most pharmacy schools have relatively small class sizes—around 90 people. So, it is important to present yourself in the best light and try to make your application stand out from the heaps of others. As you notice your college friends talking about their own summer plans, you may wonder how exactly you should spend your summer.

Beyond studying for the PCAT, there are many activities you can pursue in the next few months to help build your pre-pharmacy credentials.

1. Shadow a pharmacist

Gaining work experience in an actual pharmacy is a great way to build your resume. You get to see firsthand what your future profession entails. Though you don’t receive an intern license to work in a pharmacy until your first year of pharmacy school, there are still plenty of options for you to get involved.

You can become a pharmacy technician, for example, gaining valuable knowledge and skills to help you succeed. This pre-pharmacy path teaches you skills that are hard to obtain in any other way, such as working with patients and with other healthcare providers. If you are not interested in retail pharmacy, never fear—there are also positions offered to undergraduate students at drug research companies as well as through inpatient pharmacies in hospitals. The important thing is to network and see what opportunities are available around you.

2. Get involved with research

Getting involved with research during the summer is another great option. If you happen to live near a college campus or stay on campus during the summer months, this is a particularly convenient opportunity. Most of the student body leaves campus during the summer, so professors are always looking for people to fill in during the summer months.

By getting involved in pre-pharmacy research, you may open a door to doing research during the academic year as well. Working as a researcher affords practical lab experience that far exceeds what you would typically encounter in an ordinary organic lab you would take for class credit. By learning how to conduct and execute experiments, you are solidifying your knowledge of difficult concepts by giving them practical applications.

3. Give back by volunteering

If you want more flexibility during the summer, volunteering is a great pre-pharmacy avenue to explore. Try to plan your volunteering by assessing what opportunities are available and if certain certifications are needed. For example, volunteering at a nursing home might require more training than volunteering at a food pantry.

Deciding to give back through volunteer work has the added benefit of getting you involved in your community. Be sure to log your hours while volunteering so you can reference back to them when applying to pharmacy school. Stay in contact with whoever is in charge, as this person might be a great candidate to write you a letter of recommendation later on.

Ready to work towards a stronger pharmacy school application? Explore our flexible Live Online PCAT prep course options.



Krystal Hughes

Krystal Hughes Krystal has been accepted to the West Virginia School of Pharmacy and will start in the fall of 2017. She is currently finishing up her undergraduate curriculum while remaining active in a research lab on campus. Krystal hopes to one day specialize in pharmaceutical drug design research.


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