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Studying pharmacy

Studying pharmacyElizabeth Robinson, shares her experience as a second year pharmacy student at Keele University.

Studying pharmacy at university often involves a full week of exciting lectures and laboratory experiments. That added to meeting new people and making friends makes the university experience very much worthwhile.

Also, there are so many other non-pharmacy related activities that you can get involved in, ranging from sports to helping other students decide if university is right for them.

Monday: Making tablets

My first week back began on Monday with a 10am start in the pharmaceuticals laboratory. We were beginning the process of making tablets, having already made suspensions and ointments the previous year.

Our task was to decide on how much of each ingredient we will need to make 350 tablets. Unbeknown to the students, this was the easy part! The powders then had to be mixed and made into granules, ready to be pressed into tablets.

Forming the small granules took most of the day and reminded me somewhat of making apple crumble! After the granules had dried in the oven and been sieved to get the right size, it was time to go home - tablet pressing was for another day.

Tuesday: Learning about drug administration

On Tuesday, I attended an IT workshop based on drug pharmacokinetics. Workshops are often used to help the students to understand difficult topics better. I worked through a computer-based package on what the body does to a drug after it has been administered to a patient.

Whilst I was working through this package, I also completed a question sheet provided by the tutor. This method of learning really helped me to remember important points in a topic, because I am both reading and writing them down in the answers.

Wednesday to Friday: Lectures and free time

The next three days included two hours of lectures on each subject (module) studied: pharmaceutics, pharmacology, pharmaceutical analytical methods and metabolism in health and disease.

The lectures on pharmaceutics and pharmacology complemented the work we had done in the laboratory earlier in the week as I learnt about the processes involved in the drying of granules and tablet pressing. It also provided helpful information for the following week’s laboratory.

Students almost always get Wednesday afternoons free, so I usually spend my spare time completing university assignments or shopping.

Weekend work

Unfortunately, unlike many students, I’m rarely seen out and about on a Friday night because on Saturday mornings I have an 8.30am start at work. I have a part-time job at my local community pharmacy as a dispensing assistant.

It has really helped me realise that I wanted to come to university to study and become a pharmacist. Getting work experience in a pharmacy was one of the best things I ever did. I have learnt a great deal about the different roles of a community pharmacist and the support staff in the pharmacy.

Also, the knowledge that I have gained has helped me in my studies at university. Last year, I was able to practice for my pharmacy dispensing exam at university by dispensing prescriptions and improving my accuracy at work.

A great career

Pharmacy is an excellent career choice if you are really interested in what drugs are used for and how they work, and communicating with other people, whether they are patients or work colleagues. I would advise anyone considering going to study pharmacy to try and get some pharmacy-related work experience in order to see what the profession is all about.

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