A Day in the Life of a Pharmacy Student

by Nicholas Cotoia

Pardon the tired faces; it’s very early in the morning on the way to the hospital from the parking lot!

No day is the same as a pharmacy student. Yes, there is always something to study or read up on, but the deadlines and workload change day to day. Everyone in my class operates differently, but I like to wake up early so I’m awake by the time I get to campus.

Usually, I wake up between 5-6am. I check up on emails, text messages and social media in my bed. This is very dangerous because sometimes I end up falling back to sleep. I recently bought a new alarm in addition to my phone alarms– just in case! I get up, shower, have a cup of coffee and turn on the news. After breakfast and checking some emails or updates on Blackboard from overnight, I pick out my outfit and make my lunch.

Today is a bit unique since I had to wake up at 4:45am for work at Maine Medical Center. My friend, Katie, and I switch off with two of our other friends each week to work in the medication transitions department on Tuesday mornings. It’s nice because we get to work together, and we don’t have class until 1pm that day. I prefer working before class and being able to study at night instead of going to work. Lucky for me, my work schedule is very flexible and allows me to work mornings.

Since it’s extra early this morning, I’m out the door by 6:30 on my way to the hospital. I work and see patients, talk to primary care physicians, pharmacists and write up my reports on the patients we consult to provide an accurate medication history prior to their admission. By noon, it’s off to campus (about 10 or so minutes away).

Once there, I eat lunch with my friends, check emails and read any Blackboard updates I may have missed while at work. Class (Drugs and Disease) is from 1-3pm and then I head home to study. I’m usually pretty tired at this point, so I have another cup of coffee and a snack. Everyone has their own way of studying, but now in my third year of pharmacy school, I have a routine that I am pretty used to.

The next few hours include handwriting notes on the day’s lecture, writing a one-page (sometimes more) summary sheet of the main points from the lecture, all while cooking dinner. This is where my schedule can change. I may have a meeting I need to go back to campus for, or I may have more than one thing to study for that night, meaning that the day may not end until around 10pm. I usually head to bed around 10pm, sometimes earlier if I’m really tired.

That is a typical day in the life on a school day. Talking with friends and knowing when to take breaks is key to success. I recently started focusing more on self-care, which has really made my experience as a graduate student much more relaxed and made me a happier person. Some days are more challenging than others, especially the night before an exam! But it is all worth it in the end, and friends make it possible to survive pharmacy school through thick and thin.