What They Don’t Tell You About Pharmacy School: Semester 1

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Hi guys!

I am halfway through my finals at this point. Only three more to go next week! As my semester is winding down, I thought I’d share the things that they don’t tell you to expect when you come to pharmacy school (at least during the first semester). I’ll be honest – a lot of the things that I’ve experienced, I did not expect to be doing. Maybe this insight will help someone to prepare a little better than I did coming in to professional school!

  • Let’s start with the very beginning of the semester. Pharmacy school is not cheap. You’ve seen how much tuition is, you know about how much money you need to live for 4 months, but none of it really sinks in until you actually sign the loan papers. I can’t exactly describe the nausea that accompanies signing these loans, but it feels like a combination of the following: going to the doctor and they tell you that you need to get 7 immunizations before you leave + that feeling you get when you are going up the incline of a roller coaster and you decide you no longer want to ride anymore + when you are excited that you only have to get one textbook for the semester, but that book only comes in hard cover and it totals around $450. Anyways, you get the picture — its nauseating.
  • No one bothered to mention that every single test was going to be taken on computer. Using a special software. That uses very extreme measure to ensure that cheating is not an option, ever.
  • Part of a pharmacist’s job is to counsel patients on medication use. We see this, occasionally, in our local drug stores. But when you are in pharmacy school, the professors somehow convince you that every single patient needs to be counseled for every single medication that they pick up (even if said patient has been taking this medication for 20+ years). Yes, its good to develop counseling skills, but we hardly ever see counseling in the frequency that they tell us its going to happen. Either way, when I arrived to pharmacy school, I was unaware that we were going to have to counsel. In really authentic, creepy, sterile fake doctor’s examination rooms. In front of your professors. To a fake patient. Who knows more about the medication than you do. And asks questions that they know you can’t answer. All while being video taped for your viewing pleasure later on. And yes this is all for a grade. No pressure. Get used to the awkward and nauseating experience that is a counseling assessment.
  • I have now used placebo versions of every single inhaler known to man. Please, do not bother to ask me how to use any of these. I have already forgotten.
  • Yes you still need to buy a stethoscope even though you aren’t in medical school. And yes you have to take people’s blood pressure and take their pulse and take entire physical examination courses, because, why not? And no, I did not sign up for this! I don’t want to have to touch people!
  • Little did I know, that during our one hour lunch breaks, we are still expected to sit in on professional lecture series almost every single day. Yes, it is too much to ask to just eat lunch in peace at a table in the cafeteria every once in a while. Instead, we have classes for 5-6 hours every day, then they essentially want us to sit in an “unofficial” class for our only break of the day.
  • Our class is not very big. But, even so, when we want to contribute something in class, we have to hit a microphone button that is at our seat so our voice is projected over the loud speaker. If this wasn’t bad enough, a camera at the front of the room zooms in on your face for the entire duration that you are talking. I don’t participate in class very much.
  • And the last, most important thing that they don’t tell you about coming to pharmacy school is: abandon all your old study habits. They hardly every work. I was a Chemistry major in my undergraduate college. I foolishly thought I had mastered the fine art of studying. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had to find a new way to study, and fast. My grades couldn’t keep taking hits from the bad exam scores I was getting. I can say that, at this point, I have found something that works. But it is very time consuming. I will not go in to my future semesters assuming this technique will work. But I can say I am more prepared to try and adapt to each of my classes now.

I couldn’t possibly list everything that came as a surprise to me in pharmacy school. I will be sure to share similar posts as each semester comes to a close.

That’s all for now!



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