A common phrase in the pharmacy profession is that “pharmacy is a close-knit community”. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that this phrase was even applicable to pharmacy school! Despite the class sizes being 240 students, it felt very reminiscent to middle school days when you would have classes with the same people everyday. You begin to say “hello” to your classmates because you recognize them, and they recognize you. From there, it’s easy to strike up a conversation, even if it’s just small-talk about the mutual feeling of stress towards the midterm-season.
A great program that we have at the faculty is the Student Houses Program which aims to foster a sense of community and student engagement among all the years. Each student belongs to a “House” which is named after a former Dean of the faculty, and within the house are students ranging from first to fourth year. The program hosts several events throughout the year. So far this year, there has been a scavenger hunt, resume/interview workshop and the most recent event was in celebration of Halloween! Students were able to carve pumpkins, engage in a trivia challenge and enter the best costume contest! The program provides a great platform for students to meet each other and foster relationships to enhance the student experience (and it also makes for a fun study break!!). I’ve meet so many people through these events that I don’t think I can walk through the pharmacy building without running into someone I know, it’s actually such a nice feeling!
Although this is at the professional-faculty level, building a sense of community is even possible at the undergraduate level. Joining clubs and intramural sports is an excellent avenue where you can meet others and form relationships outside of your close circle. During my undergrad I volunteered with UTM’s Health and Counselling Centre. My closest friends from undergrad were actually people I met through this experience. Getting involved in activities that interest you is a great way to expand your network and build that community!