So you opened your small light envelope containing a single piece of paper that informs you of the the worst possible news you could imagine: “Thank you for your interest…Unfortunately, due to the high volume of applicants, we are unable to grant you acceptance at this time. However…” You feel crushed. Your hopes and dreams of working behind a pharmacy counter, starting your career making decent income fades into the wind. At first, you are in shock, and maybe in denial. But sooner or later, the hurt begins to set in. You start panicking, unsure of what your next steps are. You feel ashamed to tell your family or friends about the news, and maybe you even come up with plans or excuses to tell them. You may feel all of those hours spent studying for the PCATs, or hours in the library studying to get A’s in organic chemistry or biology feel wasted. What do you do?
Well, first of all you should gather yourself and your thoughts and take a little time off to put everything in perspective. You’ve worked hard, and deserve a little rest and relaxation whether you were accepted or denied into a pharmacy program. Spend time with your loved ones..family and friends. Or even take a little mini-vacation to the beach, or a trip somewhere to get your mind off of things, and decompress. Tomorrow is a new day, and there are plenty of options and strategies you can employ.
When you return from your little time off, ask yourself whether pharmacy is for you. Meaning…do you love the pharmacy industry, or are you doing it for the money and job stability. If it’s purely for the job stability, you may or may not be disappointed. Pharmacy isn’t the easiest job profession. It is stressful. The work schedule may not suit your lifestyle, and you may have to work with difficult colleagues and customers/patients. Eventually, it may wear you down if you don’t enjoy the work or what you’re doing every day. Think about it. You have to wake up early in the day to get to work for the next 30-40 years or so depending on when you want to retire. If you don’t enjoy the work, sooner or later, it will become more difficult to get up to work every day as you get older. Make sure you actually enjoy the pharmacy profession before you decide to fully pursue it. Otherwise, there are many other professions that provide decent income and good job stability. Try to find one that you actually enjoy doing, and are a little passionate about.
So, you do enjoy this profession – what now? If you’re grades or PCAT scores aren’t high enough compared to other applicants, it may be very difficult to get accepted. However it depends on the school, and you may be able to check with each pharmacy program to see what their minimum requirements are, and if your grades and PCAT scores meet the criteria. You may even contact the pharmacy program on whether an academic counselor is available to discuss your situation. They may advise whether you should repeat classes that were under-performed, or re-take the PCATs if your score is below the average. If you’re academic record is good enough to get into pharmacy programs, then perhaps you should apply again. Maybe you didn’t apply to as many schools previously, and hoped that you could make it into your dream college, or go to a school in your dream city. Well, life can be very brutal, and we can’t always have what we want. Perhaps you should expand your options. You may consider applying to more pharmacy schools to increase your chances. The number of pharmacy schools have increased significantly in the past decade, so there are many seats available…meaning there are more openings which is a plus for potential students. Remember, the PharmD program is temporary and flies by quickly; it will last at 4-6 years or less (depending on whether you apply to an accelerated program). Since everyone’s situation is different, in the end it will be up to you to see whether you feel your grades and scores are good enough if you apply to more programs, or whether being a pharmacist is even worth it in the long run compared to pursuing another profession.
One last note, you may consider working or volunteering in a pharmacy setting if you haven’t already done so. At the very least, you’ll have a better understanding of what a pharmacist does every day, and whether it’s what you want to do for the rest of your life. Good luck.