Pharmacy Student Thinking About Entering Medicine

by Robert

Hi Jason,

I'm a Pharmacy student, but now I am thinking about entering medicine.


This is because while doing my clinical rotations, I found out I love the clinical work and think by combining pharmacy and medicine, I could better be able to provide care for patients.


I was just wondering what you think are the pros and cons for a pharmacist to enter medicine?


MY RESPONSE
You asked about the pros and cons of a pharmacist going into medicine and I will address both issues.


Initially, you stated you liked the clinical aspect of medicine and the exposure to patients which is a good point if you want to be a physician.


Cons
I am sure you understand to become a doctor will require four years of medical school, followed by a residency in the specialty of your choice. So you have to think about the time commitment. But if it is what you want to do, time will not be an issue.


There is the financial drawback of going to medical school (I am not sure of your financial background nor do I want to know). But you should consider the cost of a medical education and any loans you may have from undergraduate and pharmacy school. Is this something you are willing to take on?


You're going to have to sit for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) but I don't this will be a major problem you can easily review your basic sciences and/or enroll in a course to prepare.


Lastly, the responsibility and on-call schedule. As a doctor your hours will not be like pharmacy at all, you will have times when you are tied to your beeper and must meet the demands of medicine at whatever the hour, which is not the case for pharmacy.


If going into medicine is in your heart and it is what you want to do, then the time in training will not be a problem nor will financing your education. These are merely points to consider.


Pros
Medical schools really like nontraditional students so having a degree in pharmacy will go a long way. Also, I am sure you'll be well equipped to handle the science of the first two years of medical school.


Medicine will give you a lot of freedom, you'll see a diverse patient population and you'll have many practice options.


Overall, I see a lot of upside by going into medicine. As you may be aware, there is a projected o shortage of physicians in the United States, estimated to be 159,000 in the year 2025. Therefore your skills will definitely be needed, and I would assume the same goes for pharmacy.



My Advice
Before making a decision I would strongly encourage you to consider why you want to become a physician in the first place. Generally, you have applicants who are unsuccessful in getting admitted to medical school and you ask them what will you do if you don't become a doctor and what parts of medicine do you like.


For instance if it is clinical care, sometimes they will find becoming a Physician's Assistant or Nurse Practitioner fulfills their need for clinical exposure and working with patients.


Therefore, I think it will be great if you know exactly why you want to be a doctor and how this will allow you to do more than as a pharmacist. Because from a clinical and helping perspective you can do this as a pharmacist which I am sure you are aware of via consultations of prescriptions and explaining adverse reactions to patients.


If you are set on becoming a doctor I think it will be very wise for you to gain as much exposure to the profession as possible. Shadowing doctors and asking many questions from them will go a long way in solidifying your decision to leave pharmacy or not.


Although, you are very close to graduation (pharmacy), sometimes you just may be tired of the academic routine and believe the grass is greener on the other side, but you may already be in the best place for you as a pharmacist. Also, I am confident that time spent as a practicing pharmacist may alter your opinion so I would spend time in your field before jumping to medicine.


In Closing
If after assessing why you want to enter medicine is because it does more than you can do as a pharmacist, you've shadowed doctors to get a true glimpse into the profession, pharmacy has lost its appeal even after graduation, and you're fully committed to approximately 7 years of schooling and training, then by all means start to plan for a future in medicine.


I hope this helps and if there are any more points of clarification or insight which I can provide I welcome the opportunity to assist.
~Jason

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