A beginner’s guide to pharmacy

If you are considering pharmacy as one of your study options then this post is a must-read. We chatted to Stella, a pharmacy student and asked her a few questions about her study journey so far.

Did you always know you wanted to be a pharmacist?

During high school, I was heavily involved in several community groups, including St. Vincent de Paul Community Group and Justice Action Group. The longer I was involved in these, the more I realised that I wanted my career choice to involve helping other people. I can’t pinpoint any one reason why I chose to focus on the health industry. I think I have always felt somewhat drawn to it. To be perfectly honest though, pharmacy was not my first choice - dentistry was.

After graduating high-school in 2014, I received my QTAC offers and found that I had been unsuccessful in getting into UQ’s Bachelor of Dentistry (Hons) program, however, I was accepted into UQ’s Bachelor of Science program. I spent the next year studying very hard in science and trying to improve my GPA (grade point average) in order to gain entry into dentistry. During this year, I kept my eyes peeled for back-up plans in case I was unsuccessful again. This time, I considered pharmacy on my shortlist. When the QTAC offers came around at the beginning of the year, I was slightly disheartened to learn that once again I had been unsuccessful in getting into the dentistry program, however, I was glad to have been accepted into UQ’s Bachelor of Pharmacy program. I began my pharmacy degree and, as the year has gone by, I learnt more about the pharmacy profession and began to love it more and more, probably more so than dentistry, so I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pharmacy students have their own campus. What do you think of it?

Located in Woolloongabba, PACE (the pharmacy building) stands for the Pharmacy Australia Centre of Excellence. The campus is really easy to get to, check out its location here.

One thing that I like about PACE is that it has pretty much everything you need. It has a really modern auditorium, a pharmacy specific branch of the UQ Library, multiple group study rooms, plenty of computers, wet and dry laboratories, a mock pharmacy and additional specialised training rooms. PACE will also satisfy your hunger as it has lots of snack and drink vending machines as well as its own café, called Pacemaker Café. It’s even within walking distance from a shopping centre, which includes a Woolworths and various fast food outlets.

What is the most interesting thing you have learnt about so far?

For me, the most interesting thing that I have learnt about so far would have to be, the effects of medicines on the human body. This process is described by the acronym LADME, which stands for; liberation, absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination. I found it interesting that while some medicines will be affected by all five steps of LADME, others may bypass the first two stages simply due to the route of administration, resulting in a faster onset of effect.

Where do you hope to be post-graduation?

At this stage, I hope to work as a hospital pharmacist. Generally, a hospital pharmacist will:

  • prepare and supply medicines,
  • provide drug information to healthcare professionals, and
  • educate and advise patients, doctors and nurses on the appropriate and safe use of medicines.

One of the reasons that I would like to work as a hospital pharmacist is because I believe that it will keep me on my toes and keep my mind active. I would also love to work with other health professionals in managing a patient’s health.

Of course, this plan isn’t concrete as I have yet to begin my community pharmacy placement, where I will learn more about the pharmacy industry and receive first-hand experience of what it is to be a pharmacist, and the different fields a pharmacist can work in. Such experiences may influence where I want to ultimately work in the pharmacy industry.

Do you have any tips for new students considering pharmacy?

If possible, I would recommend that all new students attend their orientation lecture during O Week, at the beginning of the year. This orientation lecture is held at PACE and gives you an overview of the Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) program as well as the pharmacy profession. You are also given a tour of PACE, which is very handy before you start classes.

Studying for pharmacy courses is very similar to studying for other UQ courses. I found it helpful to have a quick read of the lecture notes before the lecture begins in order to get a basic understanding of the topics which will be covered. I then make my own summary notes following the lecture, while it is all fresh in my mind. It’s also a good idea to do weekly reviews of the content that you’ve covered in all of your courses and continue to familiarise yourself with the topics, making sure you understand the content and can apply the information in practical situations. Forming study groups within your pharmacy friends is one of the best study methods. It allows you to test your knowledge and quiz each other on the content you’ve learnt throughout the semester, plus you can help each other in understanding the concepts

Last updated:
3 April 2017