MPA | Pharmacy News

By Jacenta M. Gabriel, Pharm.D., University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, Ann Arbor, 2017 Graduate

Pharmacy school is a whirlwind journey. As a recent graduate from the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, I can happily say that I now have the opportunity to reflect on the four-year expedition that has brought me to where I am today. When I look back, I am reminded of all the steps I took to integrate into the pharmacy field of this generation. Knowing what I know now, I thoughtfully mull over the actions I took that positively contributed to my student pharmacist experience and consider what I could have done differently. By sharing this newfound wisdom with the incoming classes, my hope is that students are able to make the most of their upcoming school year.

As a P1, you are full of optimism for the new life you are beginning. Adjusting from being an undergraduate student to a graduate student can be overwhelming, but pushing through the adaptation period and putting forth your best effort is important to succeed during the first semester. It is the ideal time to build up your GPA, as the classes only get more difficult as each semester passes. You will have the most leisure time this year, therefore, you should get involved in student organizations and college events. This will get the leadership ball rolling for your future years and start up the networking process. I would also encourage you to get to know your classmates and make some friends early on; sharing this experience with others that are going through the same thing makes for an irreplaceable support system.

Pharmacy school starts to ramp up during P2 year. Your workload will seem unbearable some days, but the content will be more relevant to pharmacy practice. The most valuable skill you will learn is time management. Prioritizing your work according to deadlines and level of importance will help you manage your time appropriately. Writing out a daily checklist will ensure no exam or assignment is forgotten. I would recommend not focusing too much on grades, but rather focusing on truly understanding the concepts you are taught, as it is more likely the material will be committed to memory and be readily recalled in the future. I also suggest shadowing pharmacists in a variety of settings during this year. Exploring the different facets of pharmacy will give you a better idea of where your interests lie, or at least help you figure out what you do not like.

As P3 year comes around, you have a couple years of knowledge under your belt. The material you learn is complex and takes more time to understand. It is important to carry on the good habits you formed in previous years to keep the momentum going and avoid decreased motivation. You will be ranking your P4 rotations; therefore, you should continue to discover your interests in order to narrow down your potential Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE) options. Faculty, residents, upperclassmen and peers may all be useful resources to guide you through the process, so ask as many questions about preceptors and rotations as you can before finalizing your rank list. This is key to making the next year an enjoyable experience.

At last, you are in your final year of school. You are not expected to know everything while on P4 rotations, so do not be afraid to ask countless questions and take every learning opportunity you can. Even if you are on a rotation that is not your first choice, it is essential to keep an open mind and have a well-rounded experience. Form positive relationships with the preceptors and colleagues you work with as they may one day help you land your dream job. This is the perfect time to be curious, make forgivable mistakes and mold your own learning experience, so try to make the most out of this year!

Lastly, I urge you to remember that pharmacy is a small world. Be sure to act professionally at all times throughout your four years to keep the doors of opportunity open. Also remember to make time to go out and enjoy your hobbies; it is important to maintain school-life balance to keep your mind sharp and avoid burn out. Best of luck in the upcoming school year!

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