You want to make some money but get decent clinical experience at the same time. “Working in pharm could be cool”, you think. “Especially as I’m preparing for med.”
But does being a pharmacy technician look good for med school?
Having experience as a pharmacy technician can be good when it comes to med school applications. It’ll show you have experience in a different healthcare field, real transferrable knowledge and the maturity of having gained professional experience. But it needs to be clinically relevant to really matter.
As you’ll see, not all pharm tech jobs are the same!
We’ll get into that in this article.
- If pharm tech is good for pre med
- If it counts as clinical experience
- What looks better between pharm tech and EMT
Ready to learn more? Let’s go.
Does being a pharmacy technician look good for medical school?
Being a pharmacy technician requires short certification.
This could help a med school application in a couple of ways:
- Pharm tech in a hospital setting is highly relevant (shows patient interaction)
- The work could enable you to learn transferrable medical skills (E.G. IV certification)
But possibly the best thing it can do for your candidacy is to help you build a valuable network.
Working in a pharmacy is likely to bring you into contact with physicians and other healthcare workers. Reaching out to them could help you with further opportunities for clinical volunteering or shadowing.
These are two things that look great on an application!
When is pharm tech not relevant?
Although working as a professional is never going to do harm to an application, pharm tech work isn’t always a great fit.
If the job gives you no patient interaction and instead has you hidden in the back, sorting prescriptions, it’s no real ace to have in your pocket.
So be sure to sell the professional aspects of the job in your application essay rather than the practical.
Is pharmacy tech good for pre med?
Pharmacy tech can be a good bridge for full time study and healthcare work for pre meds. It’ll also give you a taste of what this side of medicine is like.
Here’s how else it can help:
- You’ll get an idea of how to deal with medical insurance companies (and thus understand some of the red tape issues experienced by physicians)
- You can develop pharmacological knowledge that’ll help you in core medical subjects like pharmacology (one of the tougher topics)
- It’ll give you something interesting to talk about in your personal statement
But this is not in all cases.
Some pharm tech jobs, especially those in retail (at places like CVS/Walmart/Walgreens etc.), can be quite menial in nature. You’ll not gain much from these other than a nice part time salary to help off-set your studies.
Look for pharm tech work in a hospital setting if you really want to boost your pre med status.
What about scribing?
Scribing is another entry-level healthcare job that’s often mentioned in the same breath as pharmacy tech.
Unlike pharm however it’s much more relevant to an application. The job involves observing/shadowing physician-patient interactions and recording them.
But many pre-meds also complain the work can be overwhelming and underpaid.
Does pharmacy technician count as clinical experience?
No. Most pharm tech jobs are about fulfilling orders and ensuring patients get their medication. You won’t usually interact with a patient directly or have any involvement in the treatment plan.
But this does depend on the type of pharmacy you find work in. As mentioned, hospital pharmacies have a couple of benefits over retail pharmacies. Sometimes working in one could count as clinical experience depending on your duties. Especially if you get to shadow physicians.
Definitely don’t get a pharm tech job on the expectation it will give you clinical experience. You’ll most likely be disappointed!
How long should I work in pharm tech?
One thing that could be distracting to a med school admissions’ board is years of experience as a pharm tech. This could suggest that you’re interests lay in studying pharmacology over medicine.
For that reason, it’s generally best if you keep your job a part-time role if possible. Diversify your experiences as much as you can.
Don’t think that 1000’s hours as a pharm tech will score you any bonus.
EMT vs Pharmacy technician: what looks better?
Working as an emergency medicine technician (EMT) will generally prove more beneficial for a med school candidate than working in pharm tech.
EMT’s get integral experience as first-responders dealing with patients (and healthcare issues) directly. They also learn important medical procedures and work closely with physicians and other medical personnel.
Becoming an EMT will take longer and will cost more money to train, but it will also translate a lot better to a med school application.
Working as a pharmacy technician isn’t useless for a competitive med school application by any means. Just be aware of the pitfalls and remember that it doesn’t count as clinical experience.
If you liked this article, you might find the following articles useful:
- 16 Medical Volunteer Opportunities In Chicago
- How To Write An Awesome Diversity Essay In Medical School (5 Quick Tips)
Born and raised in the UK, Will went into medicine late (31) after a career in journalism. He’s into football (soccer), learned Spanish after 5 years in Spain, and has had his work published all over the web. Read more.