A new year of pharmacy school brings excitement, anxiety and many other emotions. Here, a recent pharmacy school graduate identifies several things pharmacy students should try to do before they enter a new year of pharmacy school.
Authored By: Kaitlyn Loi, Pharm.D.
August is an exciting time for pharmacy students. The end of summer is always bittersweet, but with autumn also comes a new academic year and being one semester closer to graduation.
As a pharmacy student, I often spent more time wondering what I could or should be doing to prepare for the next year ahead rather than actually preparing. Reflecting back on my earlier years in pharmacy school, I realize there are many little things that I could have done or started to do sooner to prepare for a new school year.
If you are a student starting or returning to pharmacy school, here are 5 quick and easy things to do before starting the new year. They will not take much time and I promise you will feel more organized and ready to hit the ground running once the first day of class rolls around.
1. Actually read through the course syllabi and calendars
Getting organized early and knowing exactly what’s in store for the year is one of the best and easiest things you can do to prepare for a new year. Best of all, it does not require much effort to browse through these easily accessible documents.
I recommend printing, downloading or bookmarking any course syllabi/calendars available for your classes as well as writing down any important dates or events that can be anticipated for the year (social or professional). Having this rough calendar will give you a general idea of what the year should hold in store.
Once you have everything down one place, it’s a whole lot easier to get a bird’s eye-view of what your weeks/months will look like and when some of your busier days will be. Also, as new things come up, you will just have to make adjustments to your existing plan, rather than having to sort through multiple documents to comprehend how new changes will impact your schedule.
2. Get to know your retention, graduation, licensure, intern hour requirements, and experiential learning responsibilities
While many pharmacy schools will have academic advisors available to help assist while you plan out your class schedule and intern registrations, knowing your retention, graduation, licensure, intern hour requirements, and rotation prerequisites are ultimately and solely your responsibility. Being proactive about these from the start of pharmacy school or at the start of a new school year can help you keep on track and not delay graduation and/or licensure.
Note that often these are always changing between class years, so always make sure you have the most up to date requirements straight from the college or pharmacy board. Nothing is worse than graduating late because of a missed course or a delay to starting fourth-year rotations. Not to mention paying additional tuition can add insult to injury.
Furthermore, the risk for delaying licensure because you did not know your intern hour requirements is something else to watch out for. Trust me, it happens!
3. Tie up any loose ends and get started on something new
If you are leaving an internship, job, or other community service project/extracurricular activity at the end of summer, remember to finish out strong, exchange contact info (don’t forget to keep in touch!), and leave a good impression. You never know when you may end up back at a company for another rotation or even after graduation.
Also, the beginning of a new school year is a great time to consider starting something new. If you have always wanted to work in a lab, volunteer at a local organization, or pick up a new hobby or skill, make it a point to seek and plan out those opportunities now before you get caught up in the hustle of the semester.
It is a lot easier and a smoother transition to end and start something new while you may have some more free time – we all know it’s infinitely harder to find motivation and time on top of exams and studying throughout the semester.
4. Set some goals and hold yourself accountable to them
If you are in pharmacy school, of course your end game is to eventually become a pharmacist. If you already know the position you want, think about what you’ve done so far to prepare yourself for it.
Having a 5-year plan and 10-year plan may seem daunting, but remember that you can always break goals up into smaller and more achievable goals by semester or school year. Is there anything you can do over the next semester or year to improve yourself or skill set? If so, plan to do it this year!
Even if you don’t know quite yet what you would like to do after graduation, there’s always something you can do to better yourself or develop a skill that you have always wanted or know that employers will value.
5. Take time to truly enjoy the last month of summer
Free time doesn’t come easy for pharmacy students so rest, recuperate, travel, spend time with family/ friends, and catch up on life errands, experiences or Netflix shows (Stranger Things is one show to check out!).
Nothing will better prepare you for a new year or semester like being fully recharged and reenergized.
Wishing you you a great year!
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