MPA | Pharmacy News

by Ruixin Shi, Pharm.D. Candidate 2016, University of Michigan

They were not kidding when they said that the fourth year of pharmacy school flies by in the blink of an eye. Looking at my calendar (at the time of writing this article), there are only 21 days until National Match Day and 57 days until graduation. Going into pharmacy school, I always dreamed about getting my degree, but now that the end is so close, I cannot help but reflect upon my journey through pharmacy school and the lessons I have learned to get to where I am today. In my reflection, I have compiled and summarized four lessons that I learned in my P4 year. These lessons will be invaluable to my professional journey as a prospective PGY1 resident later this year.

Lesson I: Take an active approach in learning

The first lesson I learned while on clinical rotation was to take ownership of my learning. The key is to learn for the sake of understanding, rather than to fill in a blank to answer a preceptor’s question. Rather than passively absorbing information from the preceptor, I learned to dig deeper and take an active approach in learning all aspects of a disease state or drug and the application of that information to patients. While this method is more time consuming, it has allowed me to have a better knowledge base to be able to apply the information I learn in practice. The beginning of the residency year is often characterized by a steep learning curve, and while this method of learning will initially take more time, it will ultimately pay off in the end as it will make me a more versatile pharmacist.

Lesson II: Use constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve yourself

During my rotations, I found that I had the most growth with preceptors who consistently provided feedback on my performances. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to gauge where one is in terms of progress and meeting expectations. If I am not certain of a preceptor’s expectations, I will often use their constructive criticisms to assess areas that I need to improve upon. It is also valuable to check if my own perception of progress matches that of the preceptor in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that developmental goals align.

Lesson III: Motivate yourself by keeping the end-goal in mind

Due to the rigors of rotations, one can at times lose track of their end-goals and become unmotivated and burnt-out. This is especially pertinent for me, as I lacked an “off-block” in my rotation schedule. After talking with my preceptors and mentors, they advised me to constantly ask myself where I see my career going in five years and keep that goal in mind whenever I felt burnt-out. This adds an extra spark of motivation that keeps me grounded as I am actively improving myself to reach that goal. Keeping the goal in mind is also important because career goals often change. As long as I continuously ask myself that question, I will be able to assess whether changes are needed to keep me on my path.

Lesson IV: Document and self-reflect on significant experiences

Throughout my P4 year, I kept a journal for myself to record any significant interventions I made during rotations. Initially I did this for the purpose of remembering scenarios for situational-based interview questions; however, I found value in looking back on my experiences and observing my progression from a student directly out of didactic curriculum to where I am currently. I made an effort to write an entry in the journal every single day, which allowed me to summarize and consolidate all the lessons I learned during that day. When entering into residency, having consistent self-reflection is crucial for personal and professional growth, and I will continue to record journal entries in order to put my professional development into perspective.

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