Rotations: An unspoken interview
Advice from Douglas Tam (center): ‘Live in the moment, as learning never ends!’
Hey, Kelsea! I am happy to hear that you are already reflecting on your values and considering what will be important to you in your future career. Transitioning from a student pharmacist to a new practitioner can be filled with uncertainty, but here are a few tips that I have learned along the way that should help with a successful transition.
One of the most important skills to have is the ability to reflect effectively. Self-reflection is important during your time as a student pharmacist and as a resident, a fellow, or a practitioner. What personal skills set you apart from others? What are your largest areas of interest? Are you able to identify your areas of improvement? Are you willing to seek out wisdom and advice from others to assist in continued personal and professional development?
After reflecting on your skills and abilities, pursue your goals relentlessly. It is almost inevitable that you will face hardship and resistance in achieving your goals. As a student pharmacist seeking out a PGY1 experience, I did not match with a program through Phase One or Phase Two. But in that time of hardship, I held firm to my skill sets and pressed onward. I thankfully found a program through the scramble process later on. If your initial plans don’t work out, are you willing and flexible enough to adjust and adapt to your new situation?
After experiencing various challenges in my pursuit of becoming a new practitioner, I have learned that your position is what you make of it. Do you have a passion for a particular subject area? Let others know. Earnestly seek and be open to constructive feedback. Sometimes it will take more effort to incorporate your interests into the role that was first marked out for you, but initiative can go a very long way.
Prepare for the future
For the final-year student pharmacists on rotation, two important actions to implement include keeping your CV up to date and keeping track of notable learning points and interventions that you can describe in future interviews and conversations. Additionally, at this point in the year, it is prudent to study for the NAPLEX exam in conjunction with your learning experiences—make the most of your APPEs! On a community rotation? Review for your MPJE and see how the laws play into everyday practice. Preparing for a topic discussion on stroke? Read the guidelines and review the topic in your NAPLEX book. Know that your rotations are effectively like an interview itself.
Lastly, get in the habit of establishing proper work–life integration. Time management is always an important skill, and knowing how to make compatible your responsibilities and your mental and physical well-being is crucial to excelling at any point in your life.
I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and I am excited to see where you will end up. Continue to reflect, seek mentorship, and live in the moment, as learning never ends!
Douglas J. Tam, PharmD, is a Clinical Staff Pharmacist at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL.