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PSF Executive Committee Message December 2019

Nicholas Tomlinson
Member, Pharmacy Student Forum Executive Committee

December 2019

Hello Student Pharmacists,

For some of us, the end of the first semester is fast approaching and with that the apprehension of final exams and evaluations. For others, powering through pharmacotherapy courses may seem like a daunting endeavor as the topics cover a broader spectrum of treatment options. For fourth-year students, the anticipation and fear of the next endeavor post-graduation keep us awake at night.

Regardless of what your goals are, where you are today, and what your hopes and aspirations are for the near future, as a pharmacist, you can be assured that you are not alone in this journey.

When I started as a newly minted pharmacy student, I was inundated with deadlines, exams, memorization, and just the general feeling of “What have I gotten myself into?” I quickly found that by asking for advice from those who have been through this journey before me, I found invaluable resources and advice that support my mental health while balancing the stresses of pharmacy school.

In recent years, mental health has become a huge topic of discussion among healthcare providers and for obvious reasons. We have been primed and prepped for the demanding field of healthcare, and we put others before ourselves in order to improve patient outcomes. However, when we become accustomed to caring for others, we often forget the importance of our own well-being. Combating burnout is an important issue that ASHP firmly supports. ASHP provides resources for pharmacists and student pharmacists to utilize in order to address burnout and build resiliency.

In addition to these resources, we are inclined to recognize that mental health and well-being should be acknowledged as a high priority if we are to have a healthy pharmacy career. We can start by addressing what our needs are in the time being. The needs of a first-year pharmacy student (P1) will vary from the needs of a fourth-year pharmacy student (P4). 

Common stressors during P1 year may include time management, joining organizations that are a good fit for you, and making invaluable connections to set yourself up for strong relationship-building. Tips to reduce anxiety and stress can include planning ahead such as meal-prepping for the week, using a calendar to mark deadlines and events, and practicing writing professional e-mails to professors to show that you are interested in what they teach.

P2 and P3 year for me was a grind between balancing my academic and extracurricular endeavors while maintaining my internship at a distant hospital. My advice for the interim years would be to shift your focus from joining too many organizations and overcommitting to extracurricular activities, to working on finding time to have a routine exercise, outdoor, or meditation activity. Focusing on centering yourself with these mindfulness activities during the trials of pharmacotherapy courses will help with time management and balancing your social and academic life.

Finally, as a P4, I can say that the rigors of APPE rotations and applying to residencies has been the most rewarding, yet challenging, part of my pharmacy experience thus far. The grades from APPEs are subject to your performance as a student, learner, and potential as a future pharmacist. I would ensure that you eat a balanced diet, find time to reset yourself with exercise or adequate sleep, and always show up on time and expect to stay late on your rotations. Albeit these seem like tedious chores, the redundancy of this routine has helped me find success in my rotations, and in turn, has helped me build much-needed confidence during the start of the residency application cycle. 

I hope these few words from my experience may help you all in your endeavors, wherever you may be in your pharmacy school career. Please share your well-being story and how you enhance your resilience. Best of luck to all.

Nicholas Tomlinson
Pharm.D. Candidate 2020

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