Tips for Pharmacy School Success

OCTOBER 20, 2014

A pharmacy school's curriculum typically constitutes a rigorous 4 years. The following steps help provide the necessary tools to succeed throughout that time period.

 

Attend class: While this one may seem obvious, one look around many pharmacy school classrooms is sufficient evidence that many students choose not to attend class. Whether it’s the time of the class or other conflicts, many students neglect to attend class, assuming they’ll be able to catch up on the work down the road. However, studies have universally shown that missing class significantly worsens study performance. Bottom line: go to class!

 

Take good notes: While this may also seem like obvious advice, any pharmacy student can attest to how easy it is to doze off midway through a pharmacology lecture. Although there are multiple note-taking systems, it’s important to be consistent, organized, and thorough. Additionally, it’s beneficial to engage in “active” note-taking, which consists of writing notes in your own words, looking for answers to questions, and making connections in the course material. Experts suggest that you are more likely to remember and understand information during active learning. Finally, recording class lectures (if the professor allows) can provide an invaluable resource in going back to the lecture for missed material.

 

Ask questions: Asking questions keeps you alert in class, clarifies material, and makes the professor aware you are interested and engaged in the lecture. If you’re hesitant to ask a question during class, write the question down to ask the professor during office hours or through email. In my 6 years at pharmacy school, I’ve never once met a faculty member who wasn’t willing to answer questions from students.

 

Manage your time: Falling behind in course work is the top reason why students struggle in pharmacy school. Balancing studying, work, extracurriculars, and other life events can undoubtably feel overwhelming at times. Tools to help manage your time include to-do lists, calendars, weekly priority lists, and designated study times. For me, time management meant listening to recorded lectures the day after class, typing up my notes into a study guide, and making notecards weeks before an exam.

 

Don’t cram: This falls in line with managing your time. Pulling all-nighters to cram might seem like a good idea the night before your Medicinal Chemistry exam. However, studies have shown that sacrificing sleep for extra study time is actually counterproductive. Instead, students should be studying material on a daily basis. As a general rule of thumb, you should be studying 2 to 3 hours for every hour spent in lecture.

 

Manage stress: Pharmacy school can be an incredibly stressful time for many students. Excessive stress can lead to headaches, muscle pain, sleep issues, anxiety, irritability, and worsened school performance. Methods to effectively manage stress include healthy eating, exercise, regular study breaks, music, and, most importantly, sleep!



Timothy O'Shea, PharmD
Timothy O'Shea, PharmD
Timothy O'Shea, PharmD, is a Clinical Pharmacist working at a large health insurance plan on the east coast. Additionally he works per diem at a retail pharmacy chain. He graduated from MCPHS University - Boston in 2015 and subsequently completed a PGY-1 Managed Care Pharmacy Residency. His professional interests include pharmacy legislation and managed care pharmacy. He can be followed on Twitter at @toshea125.
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