Meet Margarita Arutunyan, a second-year pharmacy student at West Coast University. Driven by her dedication to her community, Margarita decided to pursue a career in pharmacy. Follow Margarita’s path to achieving her PharmD and learn about her inspiration along the way.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in pharmacy?
A specific aspect of pharmacy that I gravitated towards was the level at which a pharmacist is involved with their community. I knew that by becoming a pharmacist, I would be able to meet members of my community, speak to them, and be someone they can trust to help them lead healthier lives. Not only will it be my job to make sure patients are getting healthy with their medications, but I will be able to inspire them to take control of their health and understand the value of self-care and preventative care, which I believe to be absolutely vital.
What about your path to pharmacy school is unique?
One aspect of my journey to pharmacy school that I find unique is that I did not take the traditional route of attending university immediately after graduating high school. I opted to attend community college and experience a college environment at a much smaller scale. I believe this route helped me to better acclimate to the more increasing academic demands that higher education requires from students. I was well prepared when transferring to a university to earn my Bachelor‘s degree by taking this path.
How did you choose your school of pharmacy?
At the time of applying to various pharmacy schools, I knew that West Coast University School of Pharmacy was going to be a strong contender. Their nursing program has been one that everyone strives to attend, and I knew that their new pharmacy program would be built on the foundation of the highest standards. The interview day allowed me to see the campus and classrooms, and I particularly enjoyed the smaller classroom size as I was never fond of large auditoriums for a classroom. Additionally, the faculty members that interviewed me were very kind and helpful. The interview itself was more conversational, and I did not feel intimidated or stressed to find the perfect answer to a question. I appreciated this approach because I believe it allowed me to be my best self. When I was selected to attend the school, it was clear that I would be going to West Coast University School of Pharmacy because of their welcoming demeanor towards their students.
Did you have any mentors that helped you as you explored possible career paths?
Starting in high school, I recognized that I wanted to pursue a career within healthcare. Human biology was one of my favorite subjects, so learning more about it and pursuing a career specializing in health was a perfect choice. I was undecided on which specific healthcare career to focus on, and my parents exposed me to the possibility of pursuing pharmacy. As I learned how helpful pharmacists are to their communities and how their vast knowledge of health is so accessible, I became very interested in the field. My hardworking family has always inspired me to strive for the goals that I have set for myself and, although there were times where I would doubt my own capabilities of being able to reach my goal of attending pharmacy school, they always encouraged me to continue with my studies and to never give up.
What is your favorite part of pharmacy school?
My favorite part of pharmacy school is witnessing the impact that our contributions have on people. Although I am only in my second year, I have been able to help members of my community by participating in outreach events and attending IPPE rotations. It has been very rewarding to learn so much about our health and be able to relay that information in such a way that helps someone else.
What do you find most challenging about pharmacy school?
Managing my time has proven to be quite a challenge while attending pharmacy school. The curriculum can be overwhelming and all-consuming more often than not, and so it is inevitable to get stressed. However, this aspect of pharmacy school is to be expected, and it only builds upon my skills to be able to handle stressful situations and to navigate the best way in which to find a solution.
What advice would you give to students interested in attending pharmacy school?
One important piece of advice and encouragement I can give to anyone interested in attending pharmacy school is to keep going. The road that leads to pharmacy school is challenging and tests many of us. Although at times quitting might seem like the only option left, I implore you to move forward toward your goal. I can speak from experience that the academic journey toward pharmacy will take time and will be difficult, but it will be absolutely rewarding and worth all of the effort, time, and studying. Always remember the reason for the goal that you have set for yourself, and that very reason will be your motivation to persevere.