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10 Most Common Pharmacy School Interview Questions and Model Answers

Pharmacy Application & Interview Preparation Specialists

Interviews for Pharmacy school can cover challenging topics. Here, we present 10 of the most common questions and answers suitable for candidates to Pharmacy schools. Find more questions in our dedicated Pharmacy School Interview Question Bank

Motivation for Pharmacy

Why do you want to study Pharmacy and not another healthcare profession?

I would focus on sustainability and climate change. The healthcare sector generates 5% of all annual emissions worldwide – in the US, the healthcare system accounts for 7.9% of total emissions. Carbon emissions in healthcare come from the supply chain. This could be, for example, the supply of equipment that is manufactured in a manner that emits carbon. We must therefore work towards becoming carbon neutral as a broad profession – not just as pharmacists, but as physicians, nurses, and all allied healthcare professionals. As it stands, the public health damage done each year by the US healthcare system’s emissions is equivalent to the annual deaths related to avoidable medical errors. To begin, we might try to accurately measure the total footprint of healthcare systems – including the energy consumption of hospitals, the waste that is produced, the medical devices and plastic products used, etc. We can then begin considering how hospitals are built, and how we can source zero carbon equipment. This is a huge responsibility and a huge shift, and pharmacists should be part of it, as our role in protocol and decision making must not be underestimated.

What experiences have you had that confirm Pharmacy is the right career for you?

The most important step in the restriction of a pandemic is pandemic planning – there ought to be clear steps laid out in advance that the government can implement at a moment’s notice. I would expect this to be the case, certainly in light of recent events. I would expect prompt social distancing and the shutting borders whilst the situation was assessed. I would expect work from home orders for all non-essential workers whilst this assessment continued. A test-and-trace system would need to be immediately implemented, and it would need to be efficient – which means cases could be linked back quickly, and all affected people found and warned. With a disease as serious as Ebola, there would be little public backlash to these measures – COVID-19 is clearly a lesser concern for the vast majority of the population. I would expect a lockdown to last as long as it needed to initially, and to be stringent – rather than an oscillation between lockdown and non-lockdown. I would expect public health messaging to be clear from the outset on the dangers of the disease and how to work together as a society to combat it. This would involve hygiene measures and prompt uptake of vaccine as and when this were available. Depending on the severity of the epidemic, I would expect a lockdown to be more or less severe – if a severe epidemic of a disease as dreadful as Ebola happened, I would anticipate a lockdown that would see people largely kept to their homes, bar to buy essential food, toiletries and medicines.

How do you think the role of a pharmacist is evolving and why does this appeal to you?

The shift towards value-based healthcare has transformed the role of pharmacists significantly. Traditionally, the pharmacist’s role was mainly confined to dispensing medication. However, value-based healthcare emphasises improved patient outcomes, preventive care, and the efficient use of resources. This change has seen pharmacists assume a more active role in patient care. Pharmacists are now more involved in activities such as patient counselling, medication therapy management, disease prevention and health promotion. They are seen as crucial members of the healthcare team who provide valuable advice on the safe and effective use of medications. This shift encourages pharmacists to work closely with patients to ensure they understand their medications, adhere to their medication regimens, and ultimately, achieve the best possible outcomes. Furthermore, this transformation has created opportunities for pharmacists to specialise in areas such as geriatric care, oncology, and ambulatory care. It’s an exciting time for the pharmacy profession as we continue to redefine our role and contribute to the overall goal of enhancing patient health and well-being.

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Personal Attributes

Give an example of when you had to use your problem-solving skills to tackle a difficult situation.

While serving as a team leader for a school science project, we were tasked with creating a working model of a wind turbine. However, despite following the instructions, the blades of our model failed to spin. This was a challenging situation as our final presentation was a few days away and all team members were relying on me to solve the problem. Instead of panicking, I analysed the situation and identified that the issue lay with the incorrect positioning of the blades. I researched various wind turbine designs and through trial and error, adjusted the angle and direction of the blades until they spun efficiently. We managed to successfully complete the model in time for the presentation. This experience demonstrated the importance of logical problem-solving and persistence in overcoming challenges.

Describe a situation where you displayed excellent communication skills.

During my volunteering work at a local nursing home, I was responsible for organising weekly bingo nights. The challenge was that some of the residents had hearing impairments. To ensure that everyone could participate, I had to adapt my communication style. I spoke slowly, enunciated clearly and used visual cues to support my verbal communication. I also took the time to chat individually with each resident, maintaining eye contact and using body language to show that I was actively listening to them. As a result, I was able to build strong relationships with the residents and facilitate inclusive and enjoyable bingo nights for everyone.

How do you manage stress and maintain a work-life balance?

Balancing academic responsibilities, extracurricular activities and personal time can indeed be stressful. However, I’ve found that good time management and prioritisation are crucial in maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I use a planner to organise my tasks and allocate specific time slots for studying, hobbies and relaxation. Regular physical activity, like cycling and yoga, helps me manage stress and maintain focus. Furthermore, I’ve learnt to recognise when I’m overworking and need to take a break. It’s important to understand that it’s okay not to be productive all the time. Relaxing with a good book or spending time with friends and family can rejuvenate me and increase my productivity in the long run.

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Ethics & Situational Judgement

You overhear a pharmacist give incorrect advice to a patient. What do you do?

In this situation, the safety and well-being of the patient is paramount. However, it’s essential to handle the matter delicately to maintain professional relationships. I would first verify the information privately to ensure there was indeed a mistake. Once confirmed, I would approach the pharmacist privately and share my concern respectfully, providing evidence to support my claim if possible. If the pharmacist acknowledges the error, we would then discuss the best way to rectify the situation, which might involve them explaining the mistake to the patient and providing the correct advice. If they disagreed, I would escalate the issue to a senior colleague or manager to ensure patient safety.

A patient comes to you with a prescription for a high dose of a potentially addictive painkiller. What steps would you take before filling the prescription?

In this case, the first step would be to verify the prescription’s legitimacy, checking if it aligns with standard treatment guidelines for the patient’s condition. I would consult the prescriber to confirm their intent and discuss any potential concerns. I would also consider the patient’s medical history, checking for signs of previous substance misuse or overuse. After these checks, if it were still appropriate to dispense the medication, I would counsel the patient on its potential risks, explaining the importance of following the prescribed dose and schedule.

You suspect a minor is attempting to buy a medicine for someone else. How would you handle this situation?

In this situation, I would approach the minor calmly and engage them in a conversation, seeking to understand more about why they need the medicine. If I still had suspicions, I would explain the rules around buying medication for others, emphasising that these rules are in place for everyone’s safety. Depending on the type of medicine they’re trying to buy and the potential risks involved, I might have to refuse the sale.

What would you do if a patient refuses to take a medication you believe is necessary for their health?

If a patient refused to take a medication, I would first try to understand their reasons. Are they concerned about potential side effects, or do they not understand why the medication is necessary? Depending on their concerns, I would provide appropriate education and reassurances. If they continued to refuse, I would respect their decision, as patients have the right to autonomy over their bodies. However, I would advise them of the potential health risks of not taking the medication, and suggest that they discuss their concerns with their doctor. Involving other healthcare professionals could provide a more comprehensive approach to managing the patient’s health.

 

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