Don’t Go it Alone.

Since October is Mental Wellness month, I decided to share a recent experience which highlights the stresses of school even at the professional faculty level.

Prior to my studies in pharmacy, I completed my undergrad at U of T at the Mississauga campus. After already completing a degree, I figured I was a veteran in dealing with the stresses of school – midterms, assignments, labs, exams? No problem! There wasn’t anything that I hadn’t dealt with before. Pharmacy school would never be that stressful.

Fast forward to second semester of second year and I realized I was incredibly wrong.

We had 7 courses that semester. To say it was overwhelming is an understatement. Every week we would have workshops and care plans to prepare for, patient counselling labs that we were assessed in, and throw in a couple of tests that week and you have a recipe for immense stress!

A collection of the "bibles" of Pharmacy!

A collection of the “bibles” of Pharmacy

The lowest point I had in that semester was with my Medication Therapy Management course in which we would be assessed on our patient counselling abilities. This course was structured so that we were given a topic for the week and were expected to counsel, answer the patient’s concerns and find drug therapy related problems on the spot in a role-play scenario. Needless to say, halfway through the semester I was failing this course. And it Freaked. Me. Out! This course was designed to be the “bread and butter” of pharmacy since patient counselling plays such an important role in our profession, and here I am, struggling to pass a lab. My confidence was at an all-time low. There were definitely times when I thought I wasn’t cut out for pharmacy. Perhaps you have felt similar sentiments in your studies. And I have one thing to tell you: Stop. Breathe. Talk to someone.

Friends and family are always my “go-to” people when I feel stressed out. Talk to the people that you trust the most and can provide positive reinforcement. I also talked to the professor regarding my dismal performance in the labs, and the feedback I received was, to my surprise, motivating. The professor looked at my past marks and realized that my communication was not the problem, but it was really a matter of over-analyzing the cases and trying to find problems that weren’t there. Having this different perspective of the situation gave me some direction of what I needed to change when I was preparing for the lab. For the remainder of the semester, I was performing better in the labs and was able to rebuild my confidence.

That semester made me realize that we’ll be faced with challenges no matter how experienced we think we are. It is our ability to adapt to those challenges that is the real test. But above all, it’s important to know that we don’t have to go it alone. Having a support system to help you through it will make you believe in yourself.

Just remember, you don’t have to go it alone.