Make This Year Your Best Year in Pharmacy School

Pharmacy Careers, Fall 2021, Volume 15, Issue 02
Pages: 30

If I could tell pharmacy students how to make this year their best year in pharmacy school, I would tell them to start by assessing their limiting beliefs.

These are some common limiting beliefs that I’ve heard from pharmacy students:

  • “It’s too late to do research.”
  • “I’m not prepared for this rotation.”
  • “If my idea was good, someone would have done it by now.”
  • “My grades aren’t good enough for that.”
  • “I’m terrible at talking to patients.”
  • “The application is due in 2 days—that’s not enough time.”

In my time as a student in pharmacy school, the last example in this list was a limiting belief that I struggled with. One day, I was playing this thought over and over in my head while considering an application deadline, then I happened to see 1 of my professors and said this statement out loud to her, and she immediately said, “Of course there’s time! Do you need a letter from me?”

To be honest, I didn’t even think about asking her for a letter as I had already convinced myself that 48 hours wasn’t enough time to put together an application. I criticized myself for being behind the curve on beginning the application, thinking it was too late to even try, but her enthusiasm and willingness to write me a letter sparked hope within me. I realized that by recognizing the possibility for hope and optimism in this situation, my limiting belief wasn’t doing anything to help me reach my professional goals. So why was I still listening to it?

During school, it is easy to compare ourselves to others, which can allow us to feel inferior to visible examples of success that we see in their lives. If we have our limiting beliefs playing on repeat in our thoughts, when opportunities arise, our minds are already playing these thoughts through their well-trodden grooves in our brains.

However, when opportunities do arise, especially in pharmacy school, they have the potential to change the course of our careers, open doors to new career paths, grow a network of like-minded peers, and ultimately lead to personal and professional growth.

NOT ALL PROFESSORS ARE INTIMIDATING

I have heard from pharmacy students that have attended a class—either in person or virtually—and have had 1 of these thoughts:

  • “I really like this subject.”
  • “This topic interests me more than anything else in pharmacy school.”
  • “How can I find a job working with this subject?”

When they express these thoughts regarding a class they connected with, the next logical step they should take is to talk to the professor about their connection with the subject material, either by reaching out after class or by making an appointment to further discuss. Yet many students don’t take this step.

Perhaps the reason some students don’t take this important step is anxiety or fear due to finding the professor intimidating. However, students that push past these feelings and find a way to introduce themselves to a professor or presenter at this pivotal stage in their careers may find that making such a connection can change the course of their professional future.

Some methods to make this an easier step in the future is by engaging in the following activities:

  • Network with peers
  • Practice talking to people who may or may not seem intimidating
  • Practice talking about subjects of professional interests with those knowledgeable in the field
  • Find out what you can do to learn more about subjects of professional interest
  • Learn that professors are people, too, by talking to them with more regularity
  • Learn about professors’ careers and what they think about the future of the profession
  • Build relationships with like-minded professionals that go beyond a meet and greet

When I was a pharmacy student, I wish I had practiced these conversational skills on campus. My assumptions tended to get the best of me, whether it was when speaking with a professor, a physician, or a patient. If I had the courage to inquire about interesting topics and spoke to more profes- sors, I would learn that they are just like us—but with age and experience—and do have the time to answer my questions.

Brooke L. Griffin, PharmD, BCACP, is a professor and vice chair of pharmacy practice at Midwestern University College of Pharmacy in Downers Grove, Illinois, and is the founder of 21st Century PharmD.