Top five to survive
As Grayson Layton (back row, center) can attest, new friends can lift your spirits.
Beginning your journey in pharmacy school brings about a multitude of changes that require you to shake up your world and step outside of your norm. While I am only a first-year student, I can honestly say the time I have spent in pharmacy school has been invaluable. I will not lie and say that it is easy.
But with the right mindset and a fiery passion, you can conquer most anything. There are many things you can do to survive and thrive during your first year in pharmacy school and beyond.
1. Make friends
Imagine stepping into an unfamiliar realm, nervous and fearful to speak to anyone. That is how you may feel on your first day of pharmacy school. At least that is how I felt. But those feelings quickly fleeted after I made my first few friends during orientation week . I no longer felt alone or scared to face pharmacy school because I knew I had people to talk to who were like-minded and were in the same boat I was in. When you surround yourself with people who care and who possess the same passion for a career just as you do, you find yourself unafraid to dive deeper. My friends have lifted me up and have helped me out, and I am thankful that we are climbing the steep mountain that is pharmacy school together. So, I highly encourage you to step out and make a few friends.
2. Get to know your professors
During my first year in pharmacy school, I made an effort to introduce myself to my professors and to begin learning more about who they are. I soon realized that, not only are you creating a new connection with someone who shares similar passions as you, but you are also showing your professors that you care and are intent on making your time spent in pharmacy school worthwhile. After your first few encounters with your professors, you are likely to feel less nervous when visiting your professor’s office when you are struggling with a topic. Sitting down, one-on-one, with your professor while they help you understand an important subject is an invaluable experience and can only benefit you in the long run. For these reasons and many more, I urge you to visit, introduce yourself, spark a conversation, and get to know your professors.
3. Join a professional organization (or more…)
I had heard of the many professional organizations on campus during our orientation week, but I was certain that I could not pledge myself to anything that would require my time. However, after learning of all the opportunities presented by organizations such as APhA–ASP, I quickly rethought my decision to abstain from joining. Becoming an active member of a professional organization is at the core of must-dos during your first year in pharmacy school. You will be sure to make friends (see step 1) and important connections while simultaneously furthering your career as a future pharmacist.
4. Organize, organize, organize …
Organization is an absolute requirement in pharmacy school. After gathering all of my class syllabi and schedules, I sat down, organized my binders, and filled in my agenda. With everything organized, I knew what was due, when it was due, the time I would use to complete assignments, and where in my binder it would be stored or found for later use. With the stress that comes with being a student pharmacist, help yourself by organizing your time, binder, agenda, and, in general, your life.
5. Take a break!
Out of all of my recommendations, this is the greatest and most advised. Pharmacy school is stressful. You must work hard and be diligent in your studies, but you have to remind yourself to take a break. While you are slaving away, completing your assignments, and reading every chapter of every pharmacy book ever written, remember that you are human and that your mind and body need time off! Whether it’s on the weekend, an hour each night exercising, attending a religious meeting, or watching your favorite show, take a break.
It goes without saying that there are many things you may do to better your first year in pharmacy school. But I found that by implementing these five, simple ideas and recommendations, I was a better person and, as a result, a better student. I still have many semesters to grow and adapt to pharmacy school and all of the curveballs it may throw, but I will continue to implement these rules knowing full and well that, by doing so in my first year of pharmacy school, my passion for pharmacy grew more than I could imagine.
Grayson Layton is a first-year PharmD candidate at the Mercer University College of Pharmacy.