Posted on February 15, 2018 in: Member News
By Sara Kolc, Pharm.D. candidate 2018, Ferris State University College of Pharmacy, Grand Rapids
There is often this image of healthcare professionals as “gods and goddesses”; that they are these exceptional people that excel day-to-day in everything they do. They may seem perfect on the outside, but are they really “perfect” on the inside? As you go through pharmacy school, the work never stops. The stress is ongoing, so how do you manage everything going on in school and still have a work, social and family life? It’s not easy, and I think a lot of pharmacy students constantly doubt themselves. If “Jane Doe” can do it, and I can’t, am I really cut out for this? I’m here to tell you that almost every single pharmacy student has felt how you felt, and here’s what I’ve learned to combat those thoughts.
The program at Ferris State University (FSU) is designed so pharmacy students spend P1-P2 years on campus in Big Rapids and then move to Grand Rapids for P3 year. I did all my undergraduate studies at FSU, so I had been in Big Rapids for five years prior to moving to Grand Rapids. Moving three hours from metro-Detroit to a small town in west Michigan away from all my friends and family was a big transition for me. Despite hating it my freshman year, I began to love the atmosphere and the people I met. I developed relationships with friends and faculty, and I felt like I belonged. When I moved to Grand Rapids and began P3 year, I felt like my life flipped upside down. I didn’t have all the friends and faculty right there with me anymore. I had new faculty that I didn’t know, and all of my classmates were scattered throughout the big city of Grand Rapids instead of all together in little ol’ Big Rapids.
P3 year I felt alone, scared and depressed. I felt this wave of anxiety any time I walked into school. I wasn’t eating right, sleeping, and most certainly, not focusing. Those are the three key things students need to have under control to be successful in school. One day, it came to me that I needed to do something to change how I was feeling. I loved pharmacy and what I was doing. I wanted to continue and be successful. I sought out counseling, and it really helped me change my ways of thinking about life. I also found exercise really helped my mood and overall sleep. I’m no gym-fanatic by any means, but when I went, it made me feel good and boosted my self-esteem. You may experience this in pharmacy school, and I want you to know that it is okay! Every healthcare professional that’s come before you has felt this at some point in their career. Although patients may think we are immortal superheroes, at the end of the day, we are human beings that have feelings too.
Every individual is different, remember that. Like we all know, some medications will work for some, and some will not work for others. Likewise, how one person deals with stress in pharmacy school may not work for another. Be open to exploring new things to help keep your mental health at peace. You have to believe that there is a reason you are here, in this profession, and stick with it. There are times you will struggle or fail, but you must accept it and continue moving forward. Everything happens for a reason, and I can guarantee there will be some benefit to your struggles. It is so easy to let everything going on around you overwhelm and take over your life. You must remember to take care of yourself! Pharmacy school is purposefully not easy because, as a pharmacist, some of the decisions you will make could be life or death to a patient. You should not take that lightly. That license is a privilege and now is your time to prove yourself and earn it. At times when you are struggling, remember that when it’s all said and done, and you’re a licensed pharmacist, that you’ve gone through experiences that make you worthy to care for the people in the world.