Deciding Pre-Pharm,  PharmD

A Burnout’s Guide to Pharmacy School Applications

Ryback is a current P1 earning his PharmD at the University of Texas at Tyler Ben and Maytee Fisch of Pharmacy. He is a dear friend of mine and will make a brilliant pharmacist. I am thrilled to share his experience in preparing for PharmD applications!

This is dedicated to all current and future PharmD applicants who are on the fence about continuing their pursuit of becoming a pharmacist due to burnout.

I applied to the Fisch College of Pharmacy via the Early Decision track in the Fall 2018 semester; however, just a couple of months back in March 2018, I was burned out and ready to pursue other passions in my life that gave me much more satisfaction, such as potentially becoming a band director.

What I didn’t know at the time was that my burnout was the result of accepting a set of false beliefs about what pharmacy school was and what was awaiting students once they got out of pharmacy school. I had believed that pharmacy school was going to strip me down and reform me into something that I was not. I had bought into the statements regarding the job market of pharmacists becoming oversaturated without any context. I had twisted advice about the validity of a PharmD regardless of whichever institution conferred it upon me as a belief that considering the community and setting of a pharmacy school was a pointless endeavor.

By unraveling these misconceptions, I was finally able to not only make peace with myself but also relight my flame for pharmacy bigger and brighter.

By unraveling these misconceptions, I was finally able to not only make peace with myself but also relight my flame for pharmacy bigger and brighter.

Although being a pharmacy student demands many sacrifices, it is up to you if you allow your humanity to be sacrificed too. The many pharmacy technicians, pharmacy students, and practicing pharmacists that compose social media communities such as #TwitteRX on Twitter are great examples of professionals that are also human day in and day out. One of the biggest surprises that I’ve had as part of #TwitteRX was discovering that a pharmacist that I followed was also an alumna of the same band fraternity I was in! 

If you have any other passion aside from pharmacy, chances are there’s someone right now in the field who shares your passion too!

While it is true that the job market for pharmacists is becoming saturated, this is mainly true for the retail setting. Pharmacists are still in demand in other sectors (e.g. clinical pharmacy; nuclear pharmacy; ambulatory care pharmacy) and will be in demand for sectors yet to be created. As the biblical passage goes: “ask and it shall be given unto you.” Pharmacy students are told to no longer expect desirable positions upon graduation and passing of the NCLEX/MJPE. But, I argue that we should continue to be properly equipped with the necessary clinical skills of this profession and be bold in asking for ways to serve our communities. By doing this, desirable opportunities will become available to us.

During my interview process at the Fisch College of Pharmacy, I fondly remember Dr. Lane Brunner, the Dean of Pharmacy, giving a speech that emphasized the importance of a pharmacy program being the right fit for the applicant. At that point in his speech, I thought back to that false belief that regarded the consideration of the setting and community as pointless endeavors while considering a pharmacy school. Out of that belief, I thought back, “pharmacy school applicants should make themselves fit for the pharmacy school.” After that thought crossed my mind, it finally dawned on me how silly that statement really was. Pharmacists are trained to be servant leaders that serve their patients, and patients generally have the freedom to select and build a covenantal relationship with a pharmacist of their choice.

Regardless of whichever school you apply to, all pharmacy schools model this training in becoming servant leaders in the same way; it is up to you to select and build a covenantal relationship with your patient.


As a final word of advice, always abide by the Greek aphorism, gnothi seauton (“know thy self”) through your application journey. Stay true to why you want to be a pharmacist and resist the temptation to focus on what you can get from being a pharmacist.

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