Year of Graduation: 2019
Graduate School/Location: School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI
Current Position: Pharmacy Graduate Student
Please give a brief description of your current position.
As a pharmacy student, I split my time between coursework and rotations at various pharmacies. During my rotations, I work with many different pharmacists at a variety of locations. This exposure has helped me determine which aspects of each position I enjoy and which I don’t like. It will also help me narrow down what type of pharmacist I will become. I am also required to volunteer in the community to learn about the people in the community. I volunteer in a free clinic for the homeless population in Madison.
What path did you follow to get to your current position?
I began attending pharmacy school immediately following my graduation from CSB/SJU. During my time at CSB/SJU, I took advantage of job shadowing to help me decide upon my future career. I shadowed physicians, physician assistants, dentists, and pharmacists. I narrowed down my selection to pharmacy my junior year and then began the application process.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
I would advise students who are interested in pharmacy to explore the wide variety of pharmacy professions prior to applying to graduate school. Reach out to alumni in pharmacy school or pharmacists through the CANE database at XPD to conduct informational interviews and gain shadowing experience. For students who plan to go to any type of graduate school, I would suggest getting involved in different clubs or activities at CSB/SJU to help build time management skills, as it is important in graduate school to be able to balance school, work, and extracurricular activities.
What skills are important in your field?
As a student in the classroom, the most important skills are time management and critical thinking. These two skills will help you succeed with class work. For the rotation portion, however, empathy, communication, and leadership skills are the most important. These characteristics will help with connecting to patients and your preceptors (medical supervisors). At the rotations, it is important to take your education in your own hands as the experience is what you make of it.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your position?
As a student, the most rewarding part of being a student is working towards the goal of becoming a pharmacist. I am taking classes that directly relate to what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am learning information that will be applicable to my job as a pharmacist. It is also rewarding to go to my rotations and know what the pharmacists are talking about and being able to contribute to discussions on drug therapy.
The most challenging part about being a graduate student is adjusting to different types of classes and roles. At UW-Madison, we do not have many assignments and are graded almost exclusively on our exams. This is much different from CSB/SJU, as we had work to supplement our exam scores. It is an adjustment to begin studying for exams as soon as the material is presented. There are courses at CSB/SJU that work this way, such as anatomy, but the adjustment is applying these study habits to all courses.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
The chemistry courses at CSB/SJU have proven to be very beneficial to my coursework at UW-Madison. The content and teaching style helped prepare me for the information presented in class. I also utilized the Experience and Professional Development Office quite a bit over my four years at CSB/SJU. I used this office for career exploration by taking the Strong and MBTI assessments to determine my interests, skills and work preferences. I used the CANE database to connect with alumni pharmacists to learn about the profession and receive tips for applications. I also attended XPD’s presentations on graduate school preparation to ensure I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing.
CSB/SJU does not have an official pharmacy club but attending other pre-health clubs was very helpful. Most health care graduate schools use similar application processes. By attending Pre-PA Club or the Allied Health Club you can learn about the application process and listen to speakers in the health profession.