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Can a Pharmacist go to Medical School?

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

Student Doctor Network Pharmacy

The obvious answer is yes! Making the switch isn't exactly a "walk in the park," but rest assured several hundred pharmacists make the successful transition every year. I was one of those hundred in 2020! As a pharmacist you clearly have what it takes to excel during medical school. Your medication proficiency, healthcare policy awareness, and generalized professionalism are heavily valued in medical school. I have no doubts that you will excel during your time in medical school and post-graduation residency training. However, the hardest part isn't the schooling, its the getting accepted part that makes or breaks your physician ambitions.

Regardless of your background, as a pharmacist (recently graduated or seasoned) you will still have to "check all the boxes" and build a competitive application. Not to mention, the prospect of getting into medical school is getting harder and harder with each successive year. As more and more students apply for a stagnant number of seats the likelihood of you sitting in one of those declines. This is further exacerbated by the newer phenomenon of students taking "Gap Years" after completing their undergraduate coursework. Not only are you competing against a larger army of applicants, but the baseline talent pool has improved through gap-year experiences.

Fortunately as a pharmacist, you will likely have a unique story and interesting life-experiences that traditional applicants will lack. How many times have you collaborated with a physician to get a patient the correct medication? How many times have you provided injections to community members or utilized clinical judgement to dispense medications? My assumption is quite a few times! These features of your application will certainly draw some attention towards your application.

Unfortunately for pharmacist applicants, our Kryptonite often involves the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) along with finishing up undergraduate level prerequisites. When consulting pharmacists like yourself, the biggest complaint I come across is a generalized lack of time needed to successfully prepare for the MCAT. This also extends to re-enrolling into a university to complete prerequisite courses that may not have been completed during your pharmacy training (most commonly Physics II). Pharmacist applicants often struggle to find time outside of working their regular day job. Preparing for the MCAT is equivalent to a full-time job and building a quality application takes not only commitment but endurance. Having more professional responsibilities related to work and finances are disadvantages when it comes to carving out study hours. These are often variables that traditional students need not consider, leading to higher quality MCAT scores and better application preparation.

The easy solution would be to quit your job and study full time, but I recognize that doing so is never that simple. It sounds like a risky proposition to throw away your quality employment, a network of co-workers, and 3-4 months of potential income just to prepare for an exam that may not even lead you to an acceptance? With all that said, I do want to emphasize the significance of the MCAT. It is the single most important metric to objectively evaluate a medical school candidate. The medical school admission committee's at each respective school take this examination very seriously and you should to. Your performance is often reflective of how much time you spend preparing so please don't write it off.

Whatever your background is, you should follow your dreams! Don't let your history dictate your future. If you are tired of the profession of pharmacy, then making the switch may be the best decision you ever make. I personally made the switch and I have no regrets!

For more information about making the switch check out "The Art of Applying to Medical School (The Pharmacy Student Edition)" or read "Pharm.D. to M.D."

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