Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Personal Reflections on Managing Real Life

Posted by Janis Rood at Tuesday, October 09, 2012

For any of my followers who have missed my blogs of late, the silence was purposeful.  I have been reflecting on several issues that present potential problems, not just as a P4, but also for life as a practicing pharmacist.  In particular they involve: to work or not to work, staying fit and well-rested, and continuity of professional activity.

1. To Work or Not to Work.  Previously I commented on several rotations where I was not particularly challenged and had no outside rotation work.  While this left me with plenty of time for family and recreation, I wondered if this was a disservice to my learning.  I also commented on rotations where I was constantly working all throughout the day on-site as well as at home.  After having completed two rotations now (more info to come on my last two rotations) that were less challenging and two rotations that required extra work, I have  made my decision on this issue: To Work.  While the process of working hard, stretching my abilities and learning more about how much I don't know is terrible at times, incredibly tiring to say the least, those rotations that work me the hardest are my favorite.  I come away feeling proud of my accomplishments, feeling like my time was maximized not wasted, and I actually added some learning to my practitioner arsenal.  Those rotations that did not challenge me seemed like a waste of time.  After 5 weeks all I had to show was...nothing.  Maybe a presentation.  Not worth getting up every morning, driving in, hanging out, then going home to watch TV or hang out some more.  While hard-working students may envy 5 weeks of this, trust me, it leaves a worthless feeling in its wake.

2. Staying Fit AND Well-rested.  Let's be honest.  After working for 9-10 hours on rotation (sometimes only 7-8), 5 days a week, no one looks forward to going home and cranking out a work-out routine at the gym or at home.  Being on rotation is tiring, even when you're not working hard.  So how to balance resting and staying fit?  Conclusion: build in to your life the same lifestyle recommendations that you give patients.  For example, I walked to the hospital every day over the last two rotations, logging ~150 miles in 10 weeks.  I started out slow, but by the end could speed walk the mile and a half each way in about 20 minutes.  Not too shabby.  On a particular drab and rainy morning I took the bus in, and I could tell the difference; my morning endorphins just weren't there.  In addition, I always took the stairs.  Believe me, at 6:30 in the morning, 4 flights of hospital stairs is brutal, but worth it.  I never took the elevator.  On the weekends I went jogging or hopped on the elliptical.  This kept me fit, and I've lost ~6 pounds.  Now to staying rested.  Set a schedule and stick to it.  I went to bed at the same time each night and woke up at the same time each morning.  It can be done.  You can do it.  I scheduled enough time throughout the day to finish my projects, and did not take on extra projects if I couldn't fit them in.  I also approached my work with a sense of urgency, not dilly-dallying, but getting it done quickly.  Focus plus to-do-list goals leave plenty of time for sleep.  This may require a paradigm shift for some who prefer to wing it, but is necessary if you want rest to be a priority.

3. Continuity of Professional Activity.  Has anyone else noticed that P4s seem to drop off the face of the Earth, especially when it comes to professional involvement and leadership?  There's no doubt that it is weird to be away from the College every day yet still considered a student.  The College is no longer home base, but rather seems like a bus stop for seminar and periodic meetings.  No one in P4 year hardly takes on any leadership positions or shows up to organizational events.  I always thought this was because there wasn't time to do this.  Honestly, though, I feel like I have more time to do that now than as a P1, P2 or P3.  What has changed?  Well, I don't want to go to another patient care event and poke people or take blood pressures for practice; I do patient care on rotation every day now.  What I want out of an organization is support for the transition from student to pharmacist.  I want to shadow preceptors at events, mentor students who need training, provide the total package counseling for patients that P2s and P3s can't give yet. I want free resources for studying for the NAPLEX and MPJE. I want to network with other pharmacists.  This is something I'm working with APhA-ASP to build in to P4 recruitment - targeting the needs and desires of P4 student pharmacists.  Also, it is a myth that P4s cannot take on leadership roles.  This is the last chance we have to make our mark.  Find a place to do this.  Me, I chose initiating a pilot tutoring program as president of Rho Chi.  Other P4s are starting a Community Pharmacy initiative.  These type of activities can be done and should be done.  They will create the momentum needed to carry our passions and projects as students into our professional careers as practicing pharmacists.

No comments: