Little known secret – I’m a Pharmacy student at university. Cue legal drug dealer jokes.
A Pharmacy degree can be challenging, and it’s certainly not all rock and roll. Nevertheless, it has stretched me intellectually and personally in the best of ways and I want to share that experience with you. This section of my blog is dedicated to giving you an insight into a Pharmacy degree, as well as general discussions on healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry. I want to kick that off with a few tips on how to make the most of your Pharmacy degree; tips I wish I’d known when I was a starry-eyed fresher. Whether you’re looking to apply to Pharmacy school or you’re a seasoned library gnome, this one’s for you.
Get cosy with pharmacokinetics.
It may not be the most titillating series of lectures, but solid knowledge of pharmacokinetics goes a long way. When you study the organ systems and their respective diseases/drugs later on, this gives you a huge leg-up when it comes to understanding real-life application – there’s a reason heparins are given alongside Warfarin in the early stages of VTE treatment after all.
Experience is key!
Nothing beats on-the-job experience. Get out there and be proactive, look for part-time jobs at a local community pharmacy – you’ll find that many independent pharmacies are more than happy to have a Pharmacy student help out. This puts your knowledge into practice when dealing with customers, who may not always have endless patience when it comes to listening to you and waiting for their prescriptions. Needless to say, this builds your confidence and knowledge around OTC (over-the-counter) ailments/medicines. You’ll be glad you did it by the time the OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) roll around – I certainly was. A little extra pocket money doesn’t hurt either.
Ask lots of questions.
Curiosity killed the cat – but not the Pharmacy student…? Ask YOURSELF lots of questions when studying – why does drug A interact with drug B? What makes a drug A preferable over drug B in certain patients? Why is the prescribing pathway for a certain disease the way it is? Asking questions leads to finding out more for yourself, which leads to a better understanding, which helps you become a better pharmacist in the future. The learning process never ends, and that’s a great thing!
A very wise person once told us on our first day, “Make friends, you won’t be able to do this degree alone.” She was right. Teamwork is everything, and someone’s perspective on a patient case or an idea you may never have considered might be the key to solving the problem at hand. Besides, teamwork is an essential skill in the work environment, so help yourself as much as you can by developing it now. A close-knit support system is also crucial for stressful times when you don’t quite feel 100% and you start doubting your own abilities. Treasure your friends.
Information overload will become a very familiar feeling – I promise. It isn’t possible to remember absolutely everything, and nobody wants to be looked after by a pharmacist who can regurgitate hours of lectures… and do nothing else. Prioritise the important bits, and make sure you fully understand the core material before branching out. Knowledge gaps get more and more difficult to fill as you go along, so do whatever you need to lay solid foundations first.
Study YOUR way.
Figure out how you study best, because you’re going to need your most efficient processing methods for all that information overload. It helps me to rewrite things in my own words, and physically writing stuff out somehow helps me retain things in the limited grey matter I have at my disposal. I have smiley faces all over my notes, and I once wrote “man boobs” when I didn’t know what gynaecomastia was. You do you.
Keep up to date with the news.
Read up every so often on the latest developments in the pharmaceutical industry and any changes in pharmacy law/practice – they may affect you in one way or another somewhere down the line. This is also great knowledge that you can show off in job interviews, and it demonstrates commitment to your field.
I’d love to hear from you if you’ve tried any of these, your thoughts and stories are always welcome in the comments section below. Thanks for reading – until next time.
Disclaimer: All images used in this post have been obtained from Pixabay under a Creative Commons License and edited on Canva by J, exclusively for thenellybean.com. All content in this post relates to the Masters of Pharmacy (MPharm) degree program in the United Kingdom.