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Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy
How Getting Involved in Student Organizations Helped Me Gain the "Pharmacy School Experience"
by Nisreen Elagha, PharmD candidate 2022, SSHP Treasurer; Midwestern Universty Chicago College of Pharmacy
More than half way through my pharmacy school experience, I am able to look back on the experiences that make up my fondest memories. Midwestern University hosts an annual organization fair that showcases the various students run projects and clubs. As an eager first year student, I attended in hopes of finding my niche in pharmacy school. I found a few organizations that caught my interest and signed up. By the end of my first year of pharmacy school, I gained several leadership and committee member positions.
Through joining these organizations, I gained clinical, therapeutic, and interpersonal skills outside of the classroom and in a real-world setting. I learned how to manually take blood pressure readings and how to do blood glucose screenings a year before I was introduced to the concept in class. I was able to apply these skills that I had learned to community service clinics. At these clinics, I was able to screen patients, assess their results, and discuss how to improve their current disease states. This gave me the confidence to communicate with patients effectively and improve their overall health. I was also able to gain therapeutic knowledge and counseling skills on the various hypertension and diabetic medications before my therapeutics course. My clinical and therapeutic skills also helped me thrive during IPPE rotations as I was able to recognize medications, health conditions, and important counseling points. I was also given the opportunity to join an organization that focuses on substance use disorders which introduced the severity of the current opioid crisis. This organization also trained the community on how to respond to an overdose event, and how to administer naloxone, a potentially life-saving drug. Just as other organizations taught me clinical skills and therapeutic knowledge in advance, this organization educated me about opioids before therapeutics. Gaining the confidence to apply the skills that I had learned eventually helped me to thrive in my therapeutics and clinical skills classes.
By getting involved in organizations on campus, I was able to develop skills that put me ahead of my colleagues. I felt as though it was an advance because it gave me more exposure, practice, and networking opportunities. Being an active member of ICHP has been a rewarding experience. I joined the ICHP mentorship program where I was paired with a first-year student to offer social and educational guidance in graduate school. Our SSHP chapter also offered a burnout panel where alumni were able to share their experiences on how to avoid burnout as a graduate student and during residency. This was a great panel to attend as it gave me insight on ways to mentally and physically survive challenging times in my pharmacy career.
Beyond the educational purpose of joining organizations on campus, I made lifelong friends. Finding a group of people that share my same interests allowed me to stay passionate about my career, and also to discover more about various pharmacy settings and careers. Social events that were held within ICHP for its members allowed us to come together and release stress after a long week of exams and classes. I found that sharing the good, bad, and the ugly, while also motivating each other to achieve success, was in itself rejuvenating.
Overall, through my organizational involvement on campus, I have made unforgettable memories and I have also developed many skills as a pharmacy student. I encourage all students to get involved on campus to experience unique pharmacy practices and to create an unforgettable graduate school experience.