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Keeping on track: A pharmacy students’ advice on how to stay focused during a pandemic

In our latest member voice article, Anjuli Bali, a third year MPharm Student at the University of Huddersfield shares her experience of struggling to study from home and how she overcame her obstacles. Anjuli also details how being a PDA Student Rep has helped her to find her voice and shares what support is available to fellow students.

Sun 24th January 2021 The PDA

‘Social distancing’, ‘lockdown’ and ‘isolation’ are all terms many of us perhaps could not have imagined ourselves using, but here we are listening to them every day. Undoubtedly COVID-19 has affected many lives, our routines, jobs, and social life have changed and with cases rising every-day, it is worrying. One thing that is important to remember – you are still in control. What you do throughout the day at home is up to you.

When lockdown began, like many other students, I was left in the dark. I didn’t know what to expect in my third year at university and what blended learning would look like but for me, I was excited at the thought of being able to study at home. What could be better than no 9 am lectures?

However, this soon became a problem. Day by day I began procrastinating and I found myself feeling lazy, lethargic, and just unmotivated. I thought by having online classes, I could structure them around my day, but this wasn’t the case. Working in a pharmacy helped me to get motivated, get up and get ready, but I enjoyed having the social interaction so much that I ended up working over 35-hour weeks! This then meant that unfortunately, I ended up being quite behind with my studies.

Being so behind led to me feeling overwhelmed and like I was drowning in university work – and if you are too, take a deep breath because you will be okay. For me, I was over 5 weeks behind, with every Monday bringing more lectures for me to attend.

Getting motivated and staying on track

To get out of my slump, I reminded myself that I can regain some control, and you can too. Sure, we may have restrictions on going out, but you can still have some power at home. One thing that may help you to stay on track with your studies is to develop a new routine that will help you to focus and stay motivated. Add structure to your day. Decorate your room. Start a hobby. Wake up early. There is so much you can do and find out about yourself. I tried this and it worked. The second thing I did after redecorating my room was set up a revision plan. This helped me to stay organised and kept me on track as I found having university with no structured sessions or a timetable extremely challenging.

Advice for fellow students

My advice would be to make use of online learning as much as you can. Email your lecturers, find revision aids. I have even set up my own online learning platform for pharmacy students and medicine students with a friend (@inspireclinical on Instagram). This helped me to prioritise my learning even in such unprecedented times.

It is also important to remember that just because you can’t physically go out, it does not mean that you can’t socialise in different ways. This was a problem which I know is affecting many students across the world who feel isolated, and alone. Facetime your friends and family and take full advantage of the social media we have today. It may not be the same, but it could help you to feel less isolated. I hope my story and advice has helped and remember – take a deep breath and focus. You will be okay.

Being a PDA Student Representative

This is my second year as a PDA Student Rep and I can honestly say that I love it.

I first joined the PDA when I was in my second year of pharmacy. The PDA really stood out to me as an organisation that provides a voice for pharmacy students and that is there to help you whenever you need it. At first, I was quite shy to get more involved but once I attended the training in Birmingham, I never looked back! During the training, I met people who would soon become my closest friends so I am so grateful for the experience.

Working as a PDA Student Rep does come with responsibilities, but none that I have found difficult. Whenever I can, I spread awareness of the PDA and its aims, whether it be through social media or through word of mouth. I have also delivered speeches too, to other cohorts and encouraged more pharmacy students to sign up and see what the PDA has to offer. As well as this, you attend training days and conferences all over England – giving you the opportunity to travel. You also get help and support whenever you need it.

Originally, I thought the PDA were only there for you when something goes wrong and you need help to get out of a certain situation but this is not the only time they can help. The PDA offer support and advice whenever you need it and have always been there for me whenever I needed something addressed within my university. I would definitely encourage any student to become a PDA member. Membership is FREE for students so why wouldn’t you? If you have done so already, also become a rep. You definitely won’t regret it!


By Anjuli Bali, a 3rd Year MPharm Student at the University of Huddersfield


This year, the PDA Student Reps training is even more comprehensive and is available for student reps on the PDA Education Hub. If you are interested in becoming a PDA Student Rep for your university year then you can register your interest in the role below.

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