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Don’t Skip Class and Other Things We Say on the First Day

When you look into the eyes of a new pharmacy student, how do you decide the most important things to say? Even after YEARS of doing this, identifying the right amount of quality talking points is not always easy for me. But each year, when I meet my new advisees, I figure it out. With pride and optimism, I talk about our history, culture, profession, and how they can find their way through it all. Quite a task for 50 minutes at a meet n’ greet.

Each year, I think: maybe next year, I’ll be more prepared. Maybe I’ll come with more of a plan. Maybe I’ll think of more stories to share. But each year, I arrive with just me, speaking off the cuff about how the next 4 years will be fast and furious. Fundamental and fun.

This year, I was lucky enough to be joined by a 2nd year student who was there to offer their advice to the incoming class. All eyes were on the P2 student. Nobody was on their phone. Everyone was professionally dressed. Except maybe the 2nd year student, who decided to wear socks and slides. But that didn’t matter because I was so impressed by the way they described the realistic expectations for the first year – in a way that resonated so well with the P1 students.

We worked in tandem to cover so many great topics; I wish I could have recorded them all. Here is a paraphrased summary of part of the conversation.

Me: Don’t Skip Class. I’m guilty of it, and I regret it. With video recording, it will be tempting. What I’ve seen happen is that students spend the rest of the quarter/semester playing catch-up and constantly feel behind. You will get something out of being in class, even if that material is not on the next exam.

P2 student: Don’t Skip Class. I’m guilty of it, and I regret it. I thought I would be able to review the material and learn it on my own, but that ended up taking way too much time and took time away from other lectures.

Me: Join a Pharmacy Organization. Go to the organizational fair and walk around and find an organization that seems interesting to you. Join one and attend their meetings. When you’re ready, volunteer for a committee and/or officer position, if your academic performance is ok. This will be great for your CV and something you can talk about on interviews.

P2 student: Join a Frat. You will get to know students who are ahead of you and frats have lots of resources to offer.

Me: Find a Calendar that Works For You. Either paper or electronic, take the time to write down all of your due dates, exam dates, etc. You are in charge of being on top of this!

P2 student: What she said.

Me: Get to Know the People in Your Advisee Group. You already have a group of students who you know from this first day. Study together, share your contact information if you feel comfortable with that, and lean on each other this first year.

P2 student: Meet As Many People As You Can. Get everyone’s phone # in this entire room and put it on WhatsApp. Someone in my class did that last year and it’s been awesome. I’ll ask a question and get a response in like, 5 seconds.

P1 student: Someone already started that today!

Me and P2 student: Wow!

Next year, maybe I’ll bring notes or more stories.

Next year, maybe I’ll just bring a P2 student.

What’s the best advice you would give pharmacy students on Day 1? Comment here!


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