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Posts Tagged ‘Corissa Piatka’

Alumni Advice for the Incoming P1 Class

In their address at spring Convocation, 2018 PharmD valedictorians Drs. Emily To and Corissa Piatka shared memories about the journey through pharmacy school. This week, the college welcomes its new class of P1 students, and their sage advice is a great reminder to cherish the journey.

On to the Next

Drs. Corissa Piatka and Emily To, 2018 PharmD Valedictorians

When Emily and I first started to think of ideas for this address, we were not really sure where we were going with it. We struggled with the ideas of how sentimental or emotional it should be. We were worried that our attempt to be motivational would fall completely flat. The question of what theme to use was asked multiple times. We then turned to the two most commonly used, non-LexiComp resources of pharmacy students: our own experiences and Google.

The Google search terms of “greatest college commencement speeches” returned about 1.4 million results. We sifted through the first few links of Top 10 lists. Some of the common names on these lists were Admiral William McRaven, the Obamas, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and author JK Rowling. But the address that stood out to us most was that of Steve Jobs, who spoke to the Stanford Class of 2005. This highly quoted speech contained many lessons and a lot of advice applicable to graduating students.  But the advice that stood out to us most was this:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

This idea definitely resonated with us. Reflecting on the entirety of our pharmacy experience, we can see many dots.

Some of those dots are highly sequenced. Looking back, the progression is very clear.

We went from learning how to navigate LexiComp to finding clinical trials on PubMed. We evaluated those single PubMed trials in our SET tables and, before we knew it, successfully delivered an entire seminar project.

The SIG codes “BID”, “TID”, “QHS” all started as a foreign language. But they quickly became second nature as we progressed our way through compounding lab. Now, we are able to read prescriptions with ease and translate those codes into medication directions for our patients.

The towers of meds and terms flashcards were once enough to trigger a vasovagal response. Initially, we could not even pronounce the drug names. But our fluency in brand and generic names built up, along with our knowledge of side effects, dosing and formulations. We progressed to counseling patients on their medications and conducting comprehensive medication reviews.

APhA, SCCP, SSHP and AMCP, at one point, were just a mumbo jumbo of pharmacy alphabet soup.  With the help of our classmates and reassurance of upperclassmen, we pushed ourselves to run for an e-board position as a P1. By P3 year, we were president or chair and were a senior member of said e-board.

From IPPEs, we quickly progressed to APPEs.  And on our APPEs, we grew from rounding with our preceptor to rounding independently. The medical team began to ask US, the P4 intern, questions regarding patient care over our preceptor.

While these dots seemed to progress in a linear order, some of them represented stand-alone obstacles. We share many of these problem dots and were able to overcome them to push ourselves forward.

We found a way to make it to class when the Toledo streets were icy, pot holes attempted to demolish our cars, and there was absolutely no parking outside of Collier.

We stumbled through plenty of IRATS to realize how many questions we missed during the GRAT 5 minutes later.

We survived the eight minute Windows update just two minutes prior to an ExamSoft Exam. We managed our non-functioning clickers, and we learned where the functioning printers were. We handled coffee spills on our computers the day before assignments were due and the convenient Blackboard crash at the precise moment that we submitted an assignment.

There were times when we felt our procrastination or lack of discipline on an assignment was certainly the beginning of the end; a plummeting GPA was imminent. Perhaps you took comfort that your highly organized, Type A best friend had not started either….but you reached deep, forgot about sleep and pulled that assignment together.

Then, there were those horrific moments when your recommendation got rejected on rounds because you were simply wrong or when you completely missed a crucial lab value or culture result.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, are those dots and lines that we did not share in common. Events that were personal to our lives. Some were visible to others and some were not. Those regarding family, finances, health, relationships, and other aspects of our lives. It is these that most likely define our unique strengths and will influence our future directions in a way that we do not yet understand.

We are here today because we have all connected the dots up until this point.  We are now standing on the same collective dot of graduation. And it is now when things will greatly change.

We are all moving on to the “next dot” and they will be widely spread. No one’s “next dot” will be the same as anyone else’s. It is exciting, sad, exhilarating and scary all at the same time.

While it feels like you may be lost or wandering off your line as you move forward, you can certainly trust in a few things. First, trust in yourself. Appreciate all that you have made sense out of, overcome and accomplished during our journey here in pharmacy school. Take pride in the fact that you have connected a lot of dots. From this, you can trust that the unfamiliar, unpredictable present will eventually fall into order on the line forming behind you. Trust that your next venture will get you where you need and are meant to go.

In closing, thank you to all of those who have helped us on this journey. Thank you to our family and friends for your unconditional support and faith in us. Thank you to our professors and preceptors for your instruction and guidance. And thank you to our classmates. All of us helped to make the ordinary days more interesting, the bad days less discouraging, and the good days that much better. Thank you for your support of one another during these past six years and as we move on to the next.