I’ve had career discussions not just once or twice, but so many times with my peers that I have lost track of all the conversations. They start with the same question: “So, what’s your major?” I answer: “Oh, I’m studying pharmacy.”
After that their reaction changes into surprise – like they’ve heard some exciting news.
“Oh, you must be so smart,” they respond. I hope so, but there’s more in pharmacy than trying to be smart. In this article I explore my pharmacy career path, my personal journey and my love for pharmacy.
I think our parents play a vital role in shaping who we are. In my case, they ignited my interest in pharmacy. My mother is a pharmacist, and I guess, like many other pharmacists, she wanted her kids to follow in her footsteps.
When I started being curious about “pharmacy”, I did some research. I attended workshops on advances in healthcare, personalised medicines and technology.
I became fascinated by finding out what we can achieve in healthcare. I consider myself lucky that I found something I’m interested in from a very young age that also resonates with my family. I chose pharmacy over pharmacology, medicine or any other healthcare-related path because I’m also enthusiastic about business. For me, pharmacy is the perfect combination of healthcare and business, both in the community and industrial sectors.
During my as a pharmacy student at University College London, I’ve heard about the opportunities open to a pharmacy student at events. All university degrees have a variety of career options to choose from within a scope of expertise, and so does pharmacy. If a career in medicine, healthcare, biology and helping others matches your personality, pharmacy will be a good fit for you.
I remembered one conference I went to was called “I’m not JUST a pharmacist” by the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (BPSA). Before that, my idea of a pharmacist was quite straightforward and divided into three sectors: community, hospital and industry.
The talks introduced by the conference illustrated much more than the normal pathway of a pharmacist. Being a pharmacist means using your expertise in medicines and healthcare in a variety of settings. These include GP surgeries, community pharmacies, hospitals, industry, prisons, the military, clinical commissioning groups, academia and even working at C+D.
Each of these career paths require pharmacy knowledge with different skills. For me, pharmacy is how I can utilise my knowledge and skills in the field I love to make a positive impact on my patients.
It is funny how people say we should have one passion – one true calling that we should follow. So many of my friends have struggled to find hunger for one career path. I am one of the lucky ones, as I developed an interest based on my mother’s career and found out how to make sense of and develop my skills.
Pharmacy is one of my many interests alongside writing and being able to make a change. What is in it for me, a third-year pharmacy student, is a way to make sense of others.
Chau Nguyen is a student at University College London