Block 6: I Was Intimidated

By the end of block 5, I was feeling intimidated. I had heard a lot about block 6. They had quite a reputation for being hard. And they knew that too and basked in the glory.  I was intimidated.

We had an orientation a week before we started block 6. And when I saw the calendar, I wanted to cry already. The first 2 weeks are the hardest. Being that this rotation would focus on toxicology, we had to become toxicology experts in 2 weeks.

You see, most pharmacy schools don’t teach much toxicology anymore. which is odd, in my opinion, because we could definitely make a big impact in the toxicology world. But I digress.

The plan was to learn about 4 toxicology topics for 8 hours daily for a week and a half. Then, take oral quizzes daily on what we learned the previous day, do two sample case days, and then have an oral final exam at the end of the 2 weeks.

 It was quite a plan. Because there were so many topics, each of the students on the rotation was assigned 3 topics to present to teach each other starting on day 2 of the rotation. My first thought was, I’m going to die. I’m barely motivated now.

I’m still recovering from burn out. How was I going to survive without spiraling back down into the darkness? I didn’t want to go back. But I refused to fail. Here’s where the power of words and affirmations come in.

Although I was tired, intimidated, and didn’t fully believe I could make it. I started telling myself that I would be one of the best APPE students in the group. I was not going to fail. I didn’t believe it. But I spoke it. I had to be in the office at 7 AM.

 So, I woke up at 5 AM. Then, I started waking up at 3 AM every day during the 2 weeks to study because I was always so drained and exhausted after listening to 8 hours of lecture to get back home, cook, do chores, and do more studying. So, I decided to wake up early so I end the day focused on myself rather than on a chore.

 It was difficult waking up at 3 AM but it’s what worked for me and gave me more motivation. I purchased a lamp to imitate the sun and put it on at 3 AM to help with my mood. It actually made a difference.

By the end of week one, I found that although the oral quizzes made my heart pound with fear and nervousness, I actually enjoyed them. I wasn’t that intimidated by randomly being picked on to answer questions even when military intimidation tactics were used.

It was actually quite fun. My mood was up. Maybe I needed a challenge? I was learning new things. I didn’t take anything personally and I was having fun. Yes, I was going to bed at 8 PM like an old lady but, I was slowly getting out of my dark hole.

I also had 5 other students to share the experience with me. So, I definitely was not alone. We were going through this as a team.

By the end of the 2 weeks, I passed my final and it was time to head out to the phones to perform toxicology services for patients calling in for potential toxic ingestions and even perform toxicology consults for healthcare providers.

 I was nervous to be on the phones again. First, I had to learn how to navigate a brand-new system. The thing with telehealth is that there is a lot of technology to learn. There are multiple screens to navigate and sometimes you get lost in all the screens. But you have to be able to find yourself quickly because most times you are also on the phone with someone who wants an answer ASAP.

 I was used to talking to patients and navigating, but talking to healthcare professionals was another arena. You had to be professional and be efficient. These people don’t have time and need you to be quick and correct. People’s lives were on the line.

That thought alone intimidated me. But I made it. There were a few awkward moments but that happens. I got through them. But there were also some really good calls where patients were very appreciative.

 I learned a new chart system and I gained new knowledge that I can use for a lifetime. I am truly grateful for my opportunity to have a rotation like this. I can now say like my predecessors that it was hard but, I learned a lot. I liked it. And I truly mean it.

I am currently on my off block, block 7. I am going to use this time to get the rest that I need and focus on the things that truly need to be focused on. And that is learning to actually, breath and rest occasionally. Until next time!

Thanks for reading my rant,

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Shika Tamaklo is a pharmacist who graduated from Mercer University (2020). She is a college lifestyle blogger who writes on fitness, health, life struggles, creative side hustles and, occasionally dabbles in creative writing.

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