Dear Incoming P2 Student,
Congratulations! You have made it through your P1 year, the “Year of Firsts” – your first verbal exam, the first time you may have stepped foot in an actual pharmacy, the first time you’ve counseled a patient (whether real or standardized), etc. All of these firsts make it a challenging, yet very exciting and quick-paced year. The P1 year was a year to really get your feet wet and discover what being a pharmacist really entails. So now you may be wondering what to expect for P2 year…
The P2 year is the year that you will be expected to jump all in, whether you feel like you’re prepared for it or not. And although you may (will) feel like you might sink at times, I promise that if you keep swimming (treading?) and keep your head above water, it’ll be May before you know it and you’ll be ready to tackle P3 year.
The following tips are a meant as pieces of advice for your P2 year that will help your continued success as a pharmacy student:
- To Panopto or not to Panopto?: No matter how tempting it is to sit at home, eat popcorn, and watch Panopto in your pajamas all day, do NOT choose to regularly do this in place of going to class. Virtual attendance via Panopto may seem like a preferable way to obtain information (e.g. “I can pause, speed-up, or repeat anything at any time!”) versus physical attendance in class but I have found that more often than not, this strategy results in getting behind. And getting behind during P2 year is definitely something you should avoid at all costs. So put on your pants and go to class.
- Attendance: This is simple, really. Go to class. Every. Day. If you have chosen to overlook my advice regarding Panopto, then at least Panopto every day.
- Leadership: If pursuing a residency is anywhere on your radar (or even if it isn’t), now is the time to start pursuing leadership experience. The best place to start is to seek out opportunities within any student organizations that you may have joined as a P1. And if you didn’t join any student organizations as a P1, then now is the time to join one or two that you may be interested in. I also want to point out that leadership doesn’t have to mean striving to be president (although that’s great as well, of course). Some of the best leaders that I have worked with have held smaller positions such as chair of the fundraising committee, philanthropy committee, etc. Find something that interests you and go for it. Finally, having previous leadership experience is not a prerequisite to being appointed to a leadership position so don’t let a lack of experience hold you back. Pharmacy school is the optimal time to start developing these skills and you should try to take full advantage of these opportunities sooner rather than later.
- Getting help when you need it: As mentioned in the first tidbit of advice - it can sometimes be easy to fall behind. And unfortunately, it is much more difficult to get caught up again. With difficult classes such as Pharmacotherapy, Pharmacokinetics, and Medicinal Chemistry on top of an abundance of experiential requirements, it is more important than ever to seek out help if you feel yourself slipping behind. Whether it’s finding a friend with good time management skills and mimicking what they do, attending tutoring sessions, getting help from a faculty member, or deactivating your Facebook account – find whatever will help you stay on track and do it. These are your tuition dollars, your career, and your future livelihood on the line so it should not be taken lightly.
- Watch-out for burn-out: Pharmacy school is tough (no one told you that it would be easy, right?!) so it is imperative to find something that will take your mind off of the pharmacy realm for a bit. Whether that is skiing, going to concerts, yoga, or my personal favorite – curling up with a good book with my cat – having a good work-life balance will not only have a positive impact on your sanity, but it will also keep you motivated and passionate about the whole reason you’re going through all of this for – to become an awesome pharmacist.
In conclusion, life as a P2 is very busy and challenging, but if you stay on track with your classwork, take advantage of extracurricular activities, and try to find some time to relax, you will look back on it as the year that helped to set you up for success in all of your future pharmacy endeavors. Good luck!
Ashley Lantis, Doctor of Pharmacy Class of 2016