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Subjects explained: what I would have liked to know about pharmacy as a freshman

2022-11-29T07:46:01.678Z

Pharmacy is the science of medicines. But what exactly do you learn during your studies? Is it really as stressful as many say? And do I have to become a pharmacist afterwards? Student Paul Zeeb provides answers.



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Anyone who studies pharmacy spends a lot of time in the laboratory (symbol image)

Photo: Solskin/Getty Images

Ointments, pills, tablets, vaccinations: pharmacists develop medicines and supply them to the population.

The professional field is broad, pharmacists work in pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies and hospitals, but also in industry, at universities and research institutions, with authorities and in the armed forces.

But first they have to make it through a demanding course of study, defy stress, pressure to perform and a great deal of learning effort.

Paul Zeeb, 23, is in his eighth semester studying pharmacy for the state examination at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main.

Here he explains why it's worth persevering, why he doesn't want to work as a pharmacist later - and why he's looking forward to burning his lab coat.

The decision to study pharmacy

»After graduating from high school, I felt overwhelmed by the big decision to make a career.

Then I remembered my favorite school subject: science.

I went to an orientation day at the university and found out that pharmacy combines all scientific fields.

I found that really exciting!

Unfortunately, my grades weren't quite enough for the NC procedure - but I was able to get a place through the university's internal selection process.

In an interview with an examination committee consisting of a professor, a research assistant and a student, I was able to convince with my motivation.

Unfortunately, the format no longer exists today, now the study aptitude test introduced in 2020 is what counts.«

Content and structure of the course

»The chemical part is very dominant.

I dropped chemistry at school, which I soon regretted at university.

I was missing a lot of basics.

So I only passed the entrance exam on the second try.

We only get grades for the three state exams and only have to pass normal exams - but those who fail an exam can usually only repeat it one semester later.

After eight semesters, I've only ticked off six of the exams.

In the basic studies, the lecturers beat us into a lot of abstract basic knowledge.

Sometimes I've asked myself why I'm doing this to myself: Being at the university or in the laboratory almost every day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., sometimes 8 p.m., seminars with compulsory attendance.

The stress factor is enormous.

It's way too much stuff for too little time.

The examination regulations are felt to be from 1705. We have to learn a lot by heart: the names of medicinal plants and substances, anatomical terms in German and Latin, structural formulas, name reactions.

Unfortunately, that's difficult for me - but I recognize connections very quickly.

It's exciting to see how all the basics from the basic course finally make sense in the main course.

Everything connects in the larger context.

We talk more about pharmaceutically relevant topics, biochemistry, pharmacology, analyze substances and their effects on people.

We really learn what holds the world together at its core.

The course is very schooled, the learning atmosphere is like in a class: the timetables are set, the fellow students stay the same.

It's easy to find friends that way.

Laboratory work is also fun.

As long as there is no pandemic making it impossible, we are in the lab 60 percent of the time, wearing protective goggles and overalls.

All the lab logs are annoying.

We have to write so many that it feels like two extra term papers per semester.

But it's worth persevering if your own expectations are right: Pharmacy is one of the toughest subjects, but it's extremely exciting and varied.

Under no circumstances should you just start studying just because your dad is a pharmacist and wants to inherit his pharmacy.

You can’t get through your studies without a good study group – and without compensation: I play rugby in university sports and am involved in the student council.«

Career prospects after graduation

»Many pharmacists go to the pharmacy after their studies.

I imagine it would be too monotonous in the long run and would only do it for a while, for example if I were to become a father.

Then I could work part-time there, have flexible working hours and a good salary.

Always having this option up your sleeve is really cool.

Professionally, I prefer to stay where I am, in research in industry: I have been working as a student trainee at the pharmaceutical company Merz since 2020, where I previously did my second traineeship.

The job can be reconciled with the university because I can organize my working hours freely, sometimes working at the weekend.

But next year I'll have to take the second and most important state exam, which makes up a large part of the final grade: Five oral exams, I'm already dreading them.

But I'm really looking forward to the traditional burning of our smocks after the last lab, when we students throw our smocks into the fire together and celebrate pseudo-freedom.

This will be a party."

Source: spiegel

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