"Learning how to navigate the medical system will be critically important to your ability to be effective for your patients and there is not a class in school that can teach that. Only real experience can provide those lessons."
I am a Class of 2007 graduate of UB’s prestigious PharmD program. A few years ago I was where you are now, wondering what pharmacy school was really going to be like. There is a lot to look forward to and, based on my personal experience, here are distinctive aspects of UB’s program that have allowed me to be happy at UB and successful as an alumnus:
My theory on pharmacy school is you get out what you put in. You can just show up to class, do the work, cruise along for 4 years and graduate...or you can get involved socially and intellectually and get much more out of the experience. Granted, both people at the end will have the same degree, but the more involved person will have had a much more fun and rewarding experience. After graduation, having a PharmD just lets you apply for the job. Every applicant will have one. Not everyone will have contacts, the ability to show engagement, and the positive attitude necessary to succeed.
Get involved with student activities.
You will be spending a lot of time over the next 4 years with your classmates. Getting involved brings you all closer together and allows you to collaborate to make your experience better. It does not matter whether it is student government, a professional organization, or a pharmacy fraternity/sorority. Getting very involved in one or two activities, rather than being just a member of everything, will make the social aspect of pharmacy school more positive. The experience you will have over the next 4 years will be determined by your level of engagement. UB SPPS has many different groups to choose from, so one will suit your style and interests.
If interested, get involved with student research.
There are plenty of opportunities for research projects while even a P1 student. Most professors are actively looking to work with early pharmacy school students as they can follow their project across 4 years. Getting involved with research in the last year is not that much time. You do not need to know much about the subject area up front and can learn as you go. What is important is being excited about the area and being willing to put in some extra reading. UB has an excellent team of professors engaged in a wide variety of research so I am sure you will find someone working on an idea you find interesting.
Start working in a pharmacy.
Whether in a hospital, a community pharmacy, or another setting, it is important to get work experience as soon as you are able. Do not work too many hours, but the 'real world' impact of what you are learning is important. Just as you learn skills in class, you will learn other skills working directly with pharmacists, techs, and patients and you will need both to succeed after graduation. It does not matter how much you know if you cannot communicate with patients - and it does not matter how well you work with others if you do not know the generic for Lipitor. Learning how to navigate the medical system will be critically important to your ability to be effective for your patients and there is not a class in school that can teach that. Only real experience can provide those lessons.
Best of luck!