Why I’m excited to be studying pharmacy

young person waiting to start their career

A first year student’s perspective

By Emily Mannix

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to enter the health industry. I romanticised the clinicians who devoted their lives to others, studying for years to gain the expertise to perform under pressure and provide remedies to some of the sickest people in our communities.

It was only a matter of choosing an avenue of the health industry on which to embark, and I’m pleased to say pharmacy has become my study for the next few years.

As a first-year student having completed my Year 12 studies recently I, like many of my peers, was initially apprehensive about whether I chose the right degree to commit four years of my life to. Having chosen my course within the last months of Year 12, I must admit I didn’t really know what would be in store with a degree in pharmacy.

As I am increasingly coming to understand, a pharmacist’s training includes so much more than drug compounding, dosing instructions and directions. Our knowledge extends to broader aspects of primary care such as managing chronic illnesses and detecting symptoms indicative of more severe conditions.

Soon to be armed with such expertise, I am realising the wide range of care I will be able to provide to my community.

As a member of Monash’s ‘Wildfire’ Rural and Indigenous Health Club, I have become aware of the comprehensive role pharmacists have in rural and regional communities where the magnitude of health services may not match those of metropolitan areas.

I am passionate about learning how I may be able to improve the health of such smaller communities by widening my expertise as a pharmacist, and I am continually hearing of opportunities for pharmacists to further their training in niche areas.

Working in Aboriginal health services, as a diabetes educator or helping orchestrate clinical trials, for example, are eye-opening aspects to a career in pharmacy that I didn’t previously know existed.

The nature of work in rural or regional communities and developing nations is attractive to many student pharmacists who see the appeal of being able to improve the quality of others’ lives by providing services and knowledge that may not be very accessible to the local population.

As my studies progress, I am also hearing of more organisations seeking pharmacists to work internationally in underdeveloped nations to create formative healthcare systems in communities that hardly have any established health services.

Some of my peers have already taken up opportunities to travel internationally as part of their pharmacy studies and are reaping the rewards from their endeavours. Being involved in health promotion work or educating a population about their medications is such an important part of a pharmacist’s role and I am proud to see my classmates so involved in their future profession.

After a recent placement at a large Melbourne hospital, I listened to alarming figures quoted of the amount of medication-related deaths in Australia each year – a sum that has overtaken the road toll.

As the clinical pharmacist spoke of the measures their own hospital had begun to improve these statistics, I felt myself immediately overcome with a passion to be part of the change that will prevent patients from unnecessary harm.

Every senior pharmacy student I have spoken with has also experienced a unique epiphany where they realised their avid interest and motivation for studying pharmacy. These students spoke of exceptional placements, patients they’d met during community pharmacy work on weekends or volunteering in health clinics on their summer breaks.

No matter how variable, these students all retold their stories with passion and pride at being able to demonstrate their sincere care for others who were unwell and seeking medical treatment.

There are many directions I imagine myself travelling in the future, all of which involve pursuing study and work that is interesting, engaging and for the greater good. To distil my intentions to their purest: I want to help others and can’t wait to get started through pharmacy.

To all the pharmacists who are brilliant mentors to students, who actively engage with students on their placements or who offer advice to younger students considering a career in pharmacy, thank you for helping to encourage the next generation.

Emily Mannix is a first-year pharmacy student at Monash University in Melbourne. 

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