A pharmacy technician program can be intense.
With classes on a variety of subjects, such as pharmacology, medical terminology, pharmacy calculations, anatomy and physiology and pharmacy computer systems…plus labs…plus at least one clinical externship/practicum…it can seem overwhelming to begin with.
“Strong study skills, including time management and organizational skills, are essential for success in this program,” states Des Moines Area Community College’s ‘Pharmacy Technician Skills Guide.’ “Students must be prepared not only to set aside adequate study time outside of class, but also to meet the attendance requirements of internships.”
Now don’t you fret pharmacy tech student. We’ve collected some valuable study tips to help you get organized and energized to successfully tackle your pharmacy technology program.
- Create a “master schedule,” says Dr. Sharon Schumann in her “Time Management Tips” article (Holden Leadership Center, University of Oregon). Start with filling in activities and events that happen every week (such as class, class review and job times, extracurricular or family commitments, etc.) Then add items that you need to do on specific days. For example, if you have a test coming up, you might want to schedule a chunk of time to study for that test each day for several days leading up to test time. Dr. Schumann adds, “Do not schedule every moment.”
- Take a little time after each class to review your notes. You could paraphrase them into your own words, you could listen to the audio you recorded (record lectures using a digital recorder or smart phone), or use another format that works for you.
- Also take time to do some review after reading each chapter of your required readings, such as writing down key topics, answering review questions if provided, using extra resources (like if a CD-ROM comes with the text) or making flashcards to review later.
- Form a study group so you can help each other with hard to understand areas—one person may be able to help the group with calculating dosages but may need help understanding physiology, for example—quiz each other and inspire each other!
- Find fun ways to learn and remember challenging topics, such as using an anatomy coloring book or making up mnemonics and songs to remember terminology.
- Do not over-commit. Learn to stop and realistically think if you can take on an extra responsibility. Saying “no” initially is better than saying “yes” with no follow-through.
- Ideally you will be taking the pharmacy technician certification exam after you graduate from the program. You can start preparing for the exam, little by little, during your education program, using a study guide book, online resources, and more. This gradual preparation should also be a complement to your courses.
- Ask for help from your instructors if you don’t understand, but also from the people who care, particularly if you are overwhelmed and have a lot to do with school and life responsibilities that day or week…
- Cut yourself some slack. It is also important to ensure there are times to relax and have fun! “Multitasking is great, but if you never stop, you’ll burn out,” says American National University’s Andrea Poteet. “Take breaks whenever you can. Whether it’s an evening out with friends or just a long hot bath, get out of school and work modes and recharge.”
Remember that every person has different styles when it comes to learning, studying and time management. If a certain technique does not work, do not beat yourself up about it. It will allow you to gradually realize what strategies work best for you as you complete you prepare for your pharmacy technician career.