Throw-back Thursday

Hi everyone! After a nice relaxing weekend away with some relatives in Wisconsin, I am back to week two of real classes.  Though I am definitely one week busier than I was last week, I am also one week wiser. As much as people stressed how pharmacy school is not like undergrad, I did not really believe it until…. just about now.  You know how one cat year is about seven human years? (or is it dog years? sorry, I am a cat person).  Well I am going to make an extreme over-exaggeration and similarly state that one pharmacy week probably equals about seven undergrad weeks. While it is probably more like a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio, you get the idea… they stuff a lot of stuff into each week.   I thought it would thus be fitting to talk about some of the main differences between my schooling in undergrad and  now in my own godogblog style #tbt.

1) The quick glance:

To clearly illustrate one major difference, lets take a quick look at all of my classes I am taking:

Screenshot 2014-09-16 09.11.13

A bit frightening, huh?  In undergrad, I was accustomed to taking four classes each quarter, maybe three is I was feeling a bit lazy (*cough*cough second semester senior).  So twelve?? That is a bit of a jump (see what I mean with cat years and human years?).  I honestly think I also need to make some flashcards for myself for the different codes for all the different classes; it is not very helpful getting an email with the subject (PHAR 62XX) and having no idea which one is which!

Before any prospective students out there look at this and stay far, far,away, I’ll explain how it is really not as many as one would think and they are not all required.  First and foremost, I was a bit over zealous and signed up for 3 electives… Don’t do that.  Live and learn, right? But let’s go through them: PHAR 6700 is done. PHAR 5201 is online.  PHAR 6204 is just an audit necessary for participation in all community outreach events. PharmD First year seminar, PHAR 6206 (research) and SPAN 144 (medical spanish), only meet once per week. All of the others (Integrated Biochemical Sciences, Foundations of Social and Administrative Pharmacy, Drug Delivery, Pharmaceutical Care Skills and Foundations of Pharmaceutical Care) are the traditional-meet-two-or-three-times-a-week for-one-to-two hours type of classes that I am used to…. but are still actually very different, which segues perfectly into my next point.

2) The actual learning

One of the other main differences between pharmacy school and undergrad is simply how the material is presented. As a science major at a large research university, I was used to having three things on the syllabus for most of my classes: midterm 1, midterm 2 and final. I will hold off on posting the syllabus for any of my new classes for comparison, simply because it would require multiple pictures!

Along with having a few traditional exams in my new classes, there are also many other assignments such as quizzes, group projects, reflection papers, case studies, patient interviews and literature review projects. Likewise, rather than just sitting and listening to lectures that require no interaction on my part (which is a very dangerous thing in the world of smartphones), the classes here are much more interactive, with many in-class activities and group discussions. While having three tests to cram for each quarter was definitely easier for me to wrap my head in terms of scheduling out my life, I am so grateful that these classes require me to constantly think in different ways and apply many different type of skills other than raw test taking ability.  Plus, we all know that cramming is not the most effective learning method so I think the diversity assignments will help me retain the information better.  Additionally, because I finally jumped on the actually-having-and-maintaining-a-calendar bandwagon, keeping track of everything is actually not so bad (plus, our awesome class reps  created a Google-doc that keeps track of everything too!).

3) Yes, We love technology

A unique aspect of our school is that fact we have two campuses; in order to foster the feel of “one program, two campuses”, most of our classes are done using communication technology (ITV). Imagine this: one room full of thirteen tables, all with several microphones and two TVs.  The bottom screen is where the professor presents the material via PowerPoint or Doc Cam, and the top shows a view of the students in the other classroom. If a student from either campus has a question, he or she must use the microphone at the table.  Here is the fun part:  the microphones are magically connected to cameras that know which microphone is being used,  so the  speaker’s face shows up on the top screen when he or she starts talking. I think everyone remembers that terribly awkward moment on the first day when we all had to introduce ourselves via ITV for the first time…… I’m pretty sure I looked straight into the microphone, rather than the camera.  I know better now than to make such a rookie mistake!  The ITV  interaction is an integral part of our classes and it always feels that something is missing during the Non-ITV classes.

4) iHaveTooManyAppleProducts

Another main adjustment for me has been the transition to electronic note taking. In the past, I have been a huge pen and paper fan, due to the facts that I didn’t feel like lugging my laptop around and that typing up biochemical structures is pretty much  impossible. However, since we are required to have some device to bring to class everyday, I decided that requirement was a good enough excuse to get a nice light-weight iPad to complete my Apple trifecta  (iPhone, iPad and iBook). The addition of thousands of dollars magically appearing into my bank account (aka student loans) also helped confirm my decision….. I’ll worry about those later. So far, the iPad has been extremely nice for annotating lecture slides and reading our free ebooks. I have decided to stay with the old-fashioned pen and paper for biochemistry, simply because the lecture moves faster than my stylus skills can handle….. but for all my other classes, it is so nice having the satisfaction of saving the rain forests from reduced paper use! As a side note, I have decided that the definition of harmony should be that glorious moment when your iPhone, iBook and iPad seamlessly sync every document, reminder or calendar event you set…. It also makes it impossible to forget about anything since three items are dinging and vibrating to remind you to do your drug delivery quiz.

So those are the big four differences. The only way these big changes are all manageable is due to one difference I did not even bother to mention: I have the same people in all of my classes! Having the support of my classmates both inside and outside of class has already been an invaluable part of my experience here.  I know as I progress in my studies, the collaboration among my classmates will become even more important.

That is all!I promise next week I will have something more exciting to talk about as I am going to the MSHP mid-year conference tomorrow morning.  Though my first-year self is a bit nervous to attend a professional conference, I know there is no better time to get my feet wet and do some hard-core networking.

Go Gophers!

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