Block 9: I’m Graduating, The World Is Ending

Hello! The year is 2020 and we are going through a pandemic. This was the year that I had been waiting for all my life. I finished block 9. I am graduating from pharmacy school. It had been a long year.

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There were many days where I couldn’t even imagine getting to this point. But, I’m here now. I have just finished my last rotation at an independent pharmacy. My hooding ceremony has been canceled and my commencement ceremony postponed.

 Yes, 2020 was a big year, indeed. But not for the reasons I desired it to be for. My younger sister is graduating with her undergraduate degree. I have a cousin graduating from high school, one from middle school and another from kindergarten.

This is not what I wanted for us. But, COVID-19 has disrupted all of our final laps into the finish line.

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I almost thought it would be worse. I came into block 9 worried that it would get canceled. If they canceled my last block, would I graduate?

The only requirement I had left to graduate was an advanced community rotation. This was not an elective that I could switch out with anything else. I was scared. But at the same time, I was a risk of getting corona if I didn’t stay at home.

I had heard rumors of hospitals sending their students home and canceling their blocks in other states. Soon, people close to me started having their rotations switched up as well. I had no room for switch-ups.

Keeping a close eye on my email, I was relieved when I didn’t get any emails from my school. That meant Monday would still go as planned.

My first day of entering the pharmacy was hectic. This was right before we shut down the city. Everyone was scrambling to get their prescriptions filled. People were panicked and everything was uncertain.

Would the city shut down? Would we shelter-in-place? And what did that all mean? Whatever it meant, people were panicking and trying to get 90-day supplies of everything.

And for someone who barely had experience in community pharmacy, it was one heck of a first day. I filled so many prescriptions that day. The bins filled the table and were piled up wherever we could find space.

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Sorry, for all the hectic environment. We don’t usually look like this. Especially on a Monday.

It was a lot. But we made it through the first day and the first week. Getting used to the new momentum, I became accustomed to the flow of the pharmacy and began to take up more tasks.

 I took prescriptions, transferred prescriptions (because a lot of people got stuck in different states during the shutdowns), and answered a lot of phone calls.

I would like to say that I became a pretty decent multitask-er during block 9. As learned the pharmacy, I was able to answer phone calls without putting the patient on hold to ask too many questions.

 But, I also learned a lot about COVID-19 or as I like to call in my head “CORONAVIRUS” in a Cardi B voice. Many patients had the same questions and concerns.

They wanted to know if we had gloves, thermometers, masks, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, acetone,  and pulse oximeters. To which the answered varied daily.

Some days we were lucky and the manufacturers had them and some days we weren’t. Some days we were only allowed to order one of each type and size of the glove. That’s how bad it was. When I left, we were selling the industrial grade of toilet paper for businesses because that’s all we could get.

 We had to limit purchases to 1 bottle of rubbing alcohol per person, 2 rolls of toilet paper per person. Was the world that I was living in even real?

We were telling people to reuse disposable masks because we didn’t know when there would be more. Store your mask in a paper bag. Put it in a sunny window to kill the germs.

Doctors would come in from hospitals looking for a mask and tell us their hospital ran out of PPE. The hospital. Ran. Out. Of. PPE. 

Then some people refused to wear masks or sanitize their hands at the handwashing stations. The reason you wear masks is to protect the people around you. Who knows who has coronavirus and who knows who will get the worst version of the disease?

Yes, I understand that you just sanitized your hands. But the door you just touched is dirty. Trust me.

One day I was standing outside the pharmacy and saw a lady coughing all over the door before she went in. Trust me, you want to sanitize your hands. Also, don’t go anywhere if you’re sick. But I digress.

I learned a lot during block 9. People’s true nature came out this month. But I will also say I met some good people. I enjoyed working with everyone at the pharmacy.

 They made my days seem shorter and gave me something to laugh about now and then during these tough times. I will truly miss them once I find my way back to Florida.

Pharmacy school was a journey. Now, I have to focus on passing my licensing exams!

I feel like this post was a little all over the place. But this is something I had on my mind for a little while. Congratulations class of 2020!

 I see you and I appreciate all your hard work! Hopefully, we will get to celebrate in the future! Stay safe and stay home!

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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