UT College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences News

Have No Fear: Advice for students and recent grads

Drs. Maureen Converse and Carl Buchwald

Drs. Maureen Converse and Carl Buchwald

Maureen Converse and Carl Buchwald, the co-valedictorians of the 2015 PharmD graduating class, jointly offered the following remarks to their classmates at this spring’s commencement.

It is well known that when something is done for the first time, such as the first exam P1 year, or your first day as an intern…it is perfectly normal to feel nervous. Feeling nervous is the best indicator that you care too much to let your goals slip away. If you feel nervous, it usually means you are challenging the status quo, and you are putting yourself on the path to new experiences. Do not be afraid of that feeling. Embrace it, and use it to propel yourself into new directions and experiences.

We have experienced many firsts throughout these years, like the first steps in our professional careers when we walked across the stage for our White Coats. The first time you wore that white coat to compounding lab you probably thought, “How will I ever know as much as these teaching assistants in two years?” Then, before you know it, the time arrives when you become that TA or P3 intern and are expected to be that mentor to the underclassmen.

The first time you did a blood sugar finger stick on a patient at a Kroger Wellness and they didn’t say “ouch”; the first time you gave a patient (or a very nervous fellow-student) a flu shot, and they promised they didn’t feel anything; the first time a family member called you for drug advice; how about your first manual blood pressure reading on a real patient, or the first time you accomplished eight final exams in one week and then felt the need to do it again next semester? Then there was first time you rounded without your preceptor and the attending physician, not just the resident, asked for recommendation and expected a prompt answer without hesitation.

Don’t get us wrong, there were also moments that didn’t make you feel like you just smashed an entire bottle of Gavilyte: the first time we got together P1 year and bonded as a class. The presumed first time you played with coloring books between classes during Pharmacy Recess. The first time you attended the Mr. PharmD Pageant and laughed uncontrollably at your classmates.  The first time you wore that bright orange Dubin’s-inspired WenckeblockeRxs class t-shirt.

It has been said that hindsight is always 20-20. Looking back, it’s easy to remember or see how things could have gone differently, but what about the road that lies ahead? What will you be doing two, five, or even 20 years from now?  We will all be faced with many new challenges and many new first experiences: the first prescription you verify on your license, the first time you call a doctor to make a change and they expect a recommendation, your first time on call as a resident, or when a pressing ethical dilemma forces you to make the decision that isn’t black or white. For the soon to be P3s: that next big exam, working out your ideal APPE schedule, or your first day of rotations.  Remember, those jitters that you feel are only a reminder that you care. Never mistake that feeling for fear.

J.R.R. Tolkien said it best when he wrote, “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”  Fear keeps us in our comfort zone and holds us back from what we can fully achieve. Looking back on these four, six or however many years, I’m sure that we can all identify the times that we have missed our mark, but we can also look upon the great memories we have made.  Whatever the case, remember that our pasts do not define us; they only shape the person we can be.  In the end, we challenge you to not forget what is gone behind you, but also to never fear what lies on the road ahead.

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is the Scientific Editor and College Communicator for The University of Toledo College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is a triple alumna of The University of Toledo with master's degrees in English and Education and a graduate certificate in Patient Advocacy.
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