If this sounds like you, then you are lucky – very lucky! I am saying that because I also saw students that had this realization for the first time in their third year of the program when they entered the pharmacotherapeutics learning sequence. Such late realization comes with loads of frustration (and expense) and, unfortunately, the time left only allows for little time to strategize how to get back on track. It isn’t impossible, but it is difficult and stressful. It is certainly better to start the program on the right foot with the right mind-set.
Know what you are getting into
I prepared many pharmacy school candidates over the last decade. My latest mentee just got accepted this fall into a pharmacy school that surely is the best fit for her. I have no doubt what-so-ever that, if she continues the same she did thus far, she will rock her time through the pharmacy school. What do I mean by this? I mean “good planning”.
First of all, one must know long ahead of time what (s)he is getting into. One of the pharmacy school recruiting aspects focuses exactly on this: it ensures that all recruited candidates have “what it takes” to perform well during the program, complete it, and pass the board exams. All of these require knowing how to study in pharmacy school.
Make use of study groups
I am not even going to mention the “last minute” study other than as a joke. This isn’t what students want, this is what programs force them into given the overloaded schedule. With an exam due every third day (I also saw two on the same day), one can literally only study at the last minute!
So how does one get through this achieving so-called “accolades”? Of course, there is hard work – period. But hard work isn’t enough. There are also a few tricks. In fact, we shouldn’t call them tricks because they are common sense.
One of them is to never approach studying alone. The ability to talk about it and cope with the expectation of what is constantly coming at you is dramatically important. Student study groups are fundamental to professional development.
Get involved in research projects
In line with the above, get involved early in research projects with pharmacy groups led by faculty that teach considerable portions of the courses in the coming years. This will give you a much-needed exposure to the field they teach about and help you assimilate quickly information that may otherwise take days for you to memorize.
Many times your professors have advanced experiential rotations with students from the years ahead of you. Some of the required activities for them are discussions on specific clinical topics or cases. As one could easily picture, seating at that discussion table for one hour will enable you to understand information that would otherwise require a whole week of studying alone or two days studying as a group.