10 New Year's Resolutions for Pharmacy Students

Here are 10 ideas for New Year's resolutions you should set for yourself to become a more well-rounded student as you develop professionally and personally in pharmacy school.

A new year is a great time to set some goals.

Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions to become a more well-rounded student.

1. Use a calendar or planner.

As a former leader of student organizations on campus, I have heard the same excuse over and over again: “I don’t have time to do that.”

Many of us use this excuse. Often, it is a result of poor time-management skills and not necessarily a true deficit in time.

Learning how to organize your time as a student will help you increase your productivity and perhaps reveal some free time you never knew you had.

Being aware of deadlines and showing up to meetings on time not only shows that you are organized, but also that you have respect for others’ time.

Make it a habit to schedule time in the day that will be dedicated for all of your activities: school work, volunteering, extracurricular work, and personal time.

Once you have honed your organizational skills, you will find that you have much more time available for other activities.

2. Start a research project.

You are a student. Now is the time to explore the unknown.

Many colleges of pharmacy are part of a university that owns a medical center or has affiliations with nearby hospitals. Ask around; see if anyone doing research is in need of extra help. Offer to volunteer your time.

Getting involved with research shows that you have the initiative to take on extracurricular projects. Additionally, after many years of doing research myself, I have found that it helps promote independent, creative, and critical thinking, as well as develop problem-solving skills.

Also, gaining an understanding of the research process can be invaluable in your training as a future clinician.

Who knows—you may find a new specialty area that you are passionate about.

3. Present on a local, state, or national level.

Delivering a professional oral or poster presentation at a local, state, or national meeting or conference can be very rewarding.

Presenting outside of required schoolwork not only helps you stand out on an application, but also gives you valuable life and professional experience that you can reflect on to further improve yourself. If you are a first-timer, it can be a daunting task, so be sure you are prepared.

4. Get published.

Similar to presenting, publishing can help boost your curriculum vitae.

I am a firm believer that as health care practitioners, it is our duty to contribute to the growing and constantly evolving medical literature, in addition to our patient care and educational pursuits.

Understanding the peer review process as a student can yield high dividends when you are tasked with a research project as a resident or clinician.

Make it a goal to publish, whether it is in a peer-reviewed medical journal, pharmacy magazine, or online publication. Your school’s newsletter is another great option.

5. Become a leader.

Leadership skills are valuable in any profession, and pharmacy is no exception.

Taking on leadership roles teaches you to inspire and empower others, become a better decision maker, communicate effectively, and most importantly, constantly self-improve.

Get involved; run for a leadership position in a student organization, offer to organize an event, or take the initiative to start a new event or community service project.

There is always something to learn from every experience.

6. Volunteer.

Giving back to the community is a great way to show that you are not only concerned about matters that benefit yourself.

Additionally, it is an excellent way to network with pharmacists and help build relationships with patients.

7. Take care of yourself.

Oftentimes, we tend to neglect ourselves when stressed. We get so bogged down with schoolwork and consequently our body suffers.

You spend so much time on academics because you want to set yourself up to be competitive after graduation. You should give your body the same attention in order to be able to live a healthy life going forward.

Some tips for taking care of yourself start with:

1. Organizing your time.

2. Making time for non-school activities.

Taking care of yourself may include pursuing one of your hobbies, traveling, or anything that feels like a stress reliever.

I have found that making time in my calendar for work and time for leisure helps me give my body and mind the attention it deserves, while still being successful in my coursework.

I strongly encourage you to not mix work and leisure.

When you are working, focus solely on school, and limit all distractions. The same should hold true during leisure time; leave work out of it.

Additionally, many—myself included—find that regularly exercising, cooking at home instead of eating out, and getting adequate amounts of sleep helps relieve stress.

We advocate such practices to our patients, so why shouldn’t we hold ourselves to the same standards?

8. Refresh your wardrobe.

Dressing professionally not only puts a positive image on yourself as an individual, but also on the profession of pharmacy.

As students get more involved in volunteering their services to the public, completing clerkship rotations, and gaining work experiences in pharmacies, patients are seeing you as their future pharmacists.

Just because you’re not a pharmacist yet, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t present yourself as one.

9. Spend more time with friends and family.

Unfortunately, many of us are guilty of neglecting friends and family because of school and work. This goes back to a previous point: schedule in time to spend with your friends and family. After all, they are around to support you through your journey, especially in times of stress.

If you have or live with your loved one, this is especially true. If you 2 aren’t spending enough time together, try scheduling a routine weekly date night.

You may find this more effective than just planning activities on the fly, and it gives you something to look forward to.

10. Plan for the future financially.

The majority of health professions students are left with very large amounts of financial debt after graduation, and pharmacy is no exception.

Make a plan, and set loan payment goals. In addition to this, give yourself financial restrictions (eg, waiting a number of years before making an expensive purchase) that will help you achieve your goals. You may also consider seeking out financial advice, which many universities offer.

Additionally, if you have some extra time on your hands, you may consider extra sources of income.

The year of 2016 is soon upon us. Will you capitalize on the 365 days to come, and shape yourself into a better student?