How the coronavirus crisis has impacted on pharmacy students – part 5

In the latest instalment of our ‘coronavirus and its impact on pharmacy students’ series, we talk to Zahra Nawaz, a second-year student from the University of Wolverhampton. Here, Zahra shares her experience of studying during a global pandemic, life during lockdown and what she has learned since becoming a PDA Student Rep.

Wed 19th August 2020 The PDA

Studying during the pandemic has been a very difficult time and understandably everyone is stressed, including the lecturers.

It is stressful because you are on your own and you haven’t actually got face to face contact. I would usually book a meeting with my personal tutor if I was getting overwhelmed, and this was a pretty stressful time but I’ve learned to manage my stress. I have a timetable and a whiteboard in my room to track everything that I do and I also try to do activities that have nothing to do with pharmacy, which makes me feel refreshed so that I can do more learning.

“Talking to peers is something that really helps because it makes me feel like I’m not alone in this. It’s good to know that you’re not the only one that feels overwhelmed and that it’s okay to feel like that right now.”

The uni has been amazing through this. While not being able to be face to face with the lecturer to ask questions and engage was a bit of a problem, they worked really hard to mitigate those issues.

We had two lab tasks which we weren’t able to complete because of COVID-19, but we still had to do the lab report. Everyone was quite worried about it because with labs, it’s better to be in there to see what you’re doing and then complete the report. The lecturers were aware of the difficulty and they provided us with resources and support to help us with those reports and they went smoothly in the end.

They’re always there if we need help via email, and they’ve set up meetings and lectures. Anything that I’ve needed I’ve been able to contact the lecturers about and we picked up what was missed through self-learning, which really was good to practice.

I’ve been revising for my exams and after I’ve completed them, I’m planning to go back to volunteering at a community pharmacy which I enjoy and have done since first year. It’s great knowing how to work with others in a pharmacy and getting to know the dispensary. It’s also helped with my studies because it’s so helpful to understand something beyond what you’ve read about, and the pharmacist that I work with also gives me little quizzes.

At home, I volunteer for the Royal Voluntary Service as a check in and chat volunteer. It’s a nerve-wracking time and knowing that you could be there for someone, even just for a five-minute conversation, is so rewarding. I get something from it too, talking to people can be such an important skill for a pharmacist.

My journey with the PDA

I joined the PDA as a student in my first year and became a rep in my second year. From the first talk we had at university about the PDA, I just felt like it was so reassuring to know that there was someone out there whose sole purpose was to have our backs as pharmacy students, pre-reg and professionals.

It is scary knowing that so much can go wrong, whether it’s an accident or not, but it’s so comforting to know that there is an organisation to support you.

“I’m glad there’s someone there in our corner. It really gives me peace of mind, and I will continue my membership as I continue to progress.”

Before we became student reps, we went to a training event where we learned more about the PDA and developed our networking skills. Networking is something being a student rep has taught me that I didn’t have experience of beforehand. It’s so important to network for your career, so these skills are invaluable.

Back in November, other student reps and I went to the General Federation of Trade Unions Young Members Development Weekend. We learned more about trade unions and how to campaign, as well as many other transferable skills. Sadly, the PDA National Conference was cancelled due to the pandemic, that is another event I was looking forward to and hopefully I will be able to attend next year.

A lot of my peers are members of the PDA. As I was a rep, before the COVID-19 pandemic, I gave a presentation to first to fourth years where I spoke about who the PDA are, how they support students, and the key benefits of registering for free membership. We talk a lot about how the PDA really are there for you at all stages of your career journey. We shouldn’t hesitate to call the PDA when we need help, guidance or advice.

 

By Zahra Nawaz

 

Get involved

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