...you’re not sure why you agreed to ride after that first plunge into the unknown, but you cannot get off until the train has come to a complete stop.
Wow. Here we are. Less than 60 days and the pharmacy residency year will come to a screeching halt. Less than 9 weeks and “Ready or not, here the real world comes!” Congrats to the Class of 2012 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy who graduated this past weekend. Looking through the photos of blue, gold, and olive green that plagued my Facebook feed, I couldn’t help but reminisce on my own graduation. My brother refers to it as the infamous day when I became “Doc Martin”. Many of my classmates were ecstatic to be done with school forever and to sell their souls to the world of community pharmacy. Even after six years of collegiate education, I wasn’t ready to be done learning. I knew that I wanted to work in a hospital pharmacy, but all aspects of the hospital and health-system intrigued me. I was a late bloomer in organizational involvement (only having joined ASHP during the spring of my P3 year) and continued to have my eyes opened to new opportunities within the profession of pharmacy. So when great mentors of mine planted an idea that I should pursue a 2-year combined pharmacy administration residency (big shout-out to SM, RS, TK, ME, and LK), my eyes were focusing on a realm of new opportunities.
Reflecting on these past two years since I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, I don’t think I really knew what I was getting myself into with a post-graduate residency program. Kind of like the first time you ride a new roller coaster. It appeals to the thrill-seeker and appears conquerable from the ground. But once you’re on the ride, there’s no turning back so you better hold on tight! That’s how I feel about residency. Like a roller coaster that has its peaks and valleys, there have been many highs and many lows in the pharmacy residency experience. Many times you’re falling out of your seat, but you grab the hand of the person sitting next to you (your co-resident) for reassurance that you will survive this ride. If you turn around to look at where you have been, you will miss out on the journey ahead. When you approach that first loop in the ride (the first obstacle of residency) and are afraid that you’ll hit the ground, you have to trust gravity (the stronger force of residency) and remind yourself that like your predecessors – you too will stay strapped in. So you’ve survived that first loop and are approaching a set of corkscrews. In roller coaster lingo, a corkscrew is a stretched loop in terms of entrance and exit points. You resist screaming out because you don’t want others to know of your inner fears that are now surfacing. Instinct tells you to shut your eyes tight and cut off the source of your anxieties. You open your eyes as you’re climbing yet another hill, only to feel your stomach drop as you instantly plunge into a dark cave. Exiting the cave, you have now reached the point in the ride where your photo is taken. Proof that you have made it this far. Moments later, you are refreshed as the roller coaster train goes crashing into the water and comes to an immediate halt. Gliding back to where you started the ride on that steamy June day, you think that you have reached your destination. Yet, the roller coaster never ends. This is like life- as it is not a series of destinations, but a journey.
While my turn on this residency roller coaster is nearing an end, I honestly am thankful to have experienced this ride. Don’t get me wrong- I will be ready to offer my seat to the incoming residents! It has been a wild ride – but each twist, turn, and tumble has helped me become a stronger person. As I traveled further into the ride, I became more confident with embracing that which previously terrified me.
Many thanks to all of the wonderful preceptors (clinical & management), pharmacists, technicians, interns, and support staff who have joined me on this wild roller coaster ride. I couldn’t have made it without each and every one of you. And much appreciation to my mentors – both professional and personal mentors – who discouraged me from jumping off and reminded me to “Hold on tight!!!” For all of you incoming riders, keep your eyes wide open because in the blink of an eye, the ride will come to an abrupt halt. In the mean time, I will be searching out the next ride in this amusement park we call life :)