Seven ‘Back to University’ Dilemmas

SuySuyee Chan (002)ee Chan, a 3rd year pharmacy student at Kings College London, takes us through her worries about going back to University after Summer break, and how she addresses these fears and concerns for a successful academic year.

1. What kind of pharmacist do I want to be?

To help you decide, you may want to have work experience in the sectors you are interested in. Look for opportunities you’re interested in, apply for them even if you think they are not looking for pharmacy students because the interviewing process alone is a great experience. Look for something new or you’re curious about, you might learn more than your traditional community/hospital placements.

As a third year student, I am still unsure about which sector of pharmacy I want to work in because I have come across many areas that interest me and there are still many areas I haven’t seen yet! So I will make the most of my placements and look for my own opportunities to discover my career options. For example, this summer I got to experience life in the RPS headquarters on an internship, where I learned that pharmacists are essential to healthcare all across the board as well as sectors that I did not expect.

So, expose yourself to as many sectors as you can to find out your preferences, strengths and weaknesses, see if you can imagine yourself training for it and working in a similar environment.

2. Should I get a part-time job?

The extra money is always welcome and you get to meet people outside of your circles, it is also a great experience that prepares you for the world of work! Whether it is pharmacy related or not, the working experience will be valuable when it comes to applications and interviews. Since pharmacy placements and jobs are hard to come by and we are likely to work in a pharmacy for a living, this is a good time to experience work in different places too.
However, it is important to make sure you balance your time well, remember you can always try to negotiate your availability and accommodate yourself.

3. Am I doing the best I can?

For some reason, the semester hasn’t even started and I already feel behind. Usually this question pops up when I know I should be studying but I am not, which means the answer is yes. As we all know, it’s difficult to keep on top of notes, labs, pharmacy news but you did it last year so you will do even better this year!

We have all experienced some kind of work overload. It’s important to remember to:

● List and break down your tasks to give yourself some direction.
● Do the easy tasks first to get on track.
● Take breaks and reward yourself for your hard-work even if you haven’t finished.
● Find out what motivates you, whether it is Shia LaBeouf’s ‘Just Do It’ video or sitting in a specific spot.
● Hang out with your peers and talk about your work.

4. What can I do when I am frustrated with studying?

Understand that you’re not the only one, don’t doubt yourself but motivate yourself instead. Don’t get discouraged by poor marks because you can make up for them; you’re good at so many things, and you will become a pharmacist at the end of your degree! Finally, remember we can’t be productive 24/7 so treat yourself to a well-deserved break.

I think one of the best ways to stay on top of work and keep things interesting is to communicate with your peers, discuss your ideas and support each other. Also get involved with your pharmacy community in the form of your university society or local practice forums. Immersing yourself in the pharmacy profession helps to get your head in the game.

5. Now that I have found my style of studying, I can work with textbooks and skip some lectures, right?

I have this dilemma when the alarm goes off in the morning, when it feels easier to just curl up in bed and borrow notes later! Except that makes life harder when it comes to revision. We actually learn more than we think when we attend lectures, in comparison to someone’s notes or a recording, which means we remember things better during revision, saving time and effort. For my own motivation, I like to treasure the fact that I am still a student and remind myself that I’m paying for university.

6. What should I eat today?

Instead of scolding ourselves whilst eating instant noodles because we have ran out of money, I have started to plan my cooking to make sure my meals are cheap and healthy. Another excellent way to do that is to go vegetarian, ‘flexitarian’ or vegan, often making your meals less complex and more nutritious. Thanks to the internet, I have enjoyed many recipes with my flatmate, sharing food and saving money together. I thoroughly recommend you to try it, it also makes batch cooking for packed lunch easier.

7. Joining the gym?

There are a lot of good deals that make joining the gym worthwhile, exercise is good for the body and mind, you would be proud of your perseverance when you go regularly too!

Personally I have decided to do classes because I wanted to learn something new, whilst getting weekly exercise and meeting new people. Most places hold taster days so take a look at what is near you, whether it is tai chi or ballet, try something new or go back to a hobby you had back in your childhood.

You can also put your Fresher’s hat back on and search your inbox for welcome emails from the societies you signed up to at Fresher’s Fair many moons ago. Bring back that fresher excitement and get involved in clubs and societies. If nothing particularly interests you, you could consider starting your own classes for charity or even well-being sessions with your
Pharmacy Society.


Suyee Chan,

3rd Year Pharmacy Student,

Kings College London

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