Advice, Current Students, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

“Treat the patient, not the prescription” and other quotes that shape our practice

We asked four of our UBC Pharm Sci Student Ambassadors to reflect on the quotes and advice that have shaped their practice, and that serve as a reminder to why they chose pharmacy. Here’s what Alex, Jonathan, Lisa, and Miriam had to say.

UBC Pharm Sci student at Health Fair

Image: Ivan Yastrebov, UBC Pharm Sci

“Treat the patient, not the prescription.” (Barbara Gobis)

When studying for exams and and prepping for labs, it’s incredibly easy to lose sight of what to do when face-to-face with a real patient. For example, I’ve asked patient-actors in lab counselling scenarios if they were pregnant or lactating only to realize that the patient is a male. Over the years, I’ve learned the true essence of critical thinking. It’s not just about assessing all the information, but the relevant information to help your patients. The ability to look at a problem wholly and not focus on the situation right in front of us is something I’m glad I’ll leave the Faculty with. – Alex Assumption

“Today you may have 30 encounters with patients, but each patient likely has only ONE pharmacy visit today.” (Unknown lecturer)

I think this quote really speaks about how important each patient/pharmacist interaction is. When we’re out in the community, we might experience a high volume of patients and as the day goes on, experience fatigue. We might end up being complacent with our interactions and just aim to pass (ie: > 60%). However, we need to remember that although we may have multiple patient interactions in a day, we might be the only healthcare professional a patient interacts with on that given day. We are representing the healthcare system, and every patient deserves our full attention and effort. – Jonathan Loong

UBC Pharm Sci student at Health Fair

Image: Ivan Yastrebov, UBC Pharm Sci

“Bring value and you will become indispensable.” (Dr. Dan Martinusen)

In a busy pharmacy setting this thought has helped me focus on what comes first and build a plan to achieve that goal. Despite only working one day a week, it is very gratifying to have patients in the pharmacy who know me by name and will seek me for advice. The rapport I have with my patients is a valuable asset I bring to their healthcare team. – Lisa Wang

“You’re my favourite drug experts” (Dr. Simon Albon)

This is essentially the most valuable asset of a pharmacist. We spend three years learning about drugs, from medicinal chemistry to pharmacology to therapeutics. In practice, our expertise about medications is where we are most needed. Whether you receive a drug information request from a patient or from a doctor, others look to us for answers about medications. – Miriam Ahmed

Advice, Current Students, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

My Practicum Experience: Karen Teng in Cobble Hill, BC

One of the most nerve-racking things about pharmacy school is waiting to find out where your practicum placement is. I remember opening up ‘E-Value’ and staring blankly at my screen thinking: “Where’s Cobble Hill?”

Cobble Hill sunset. Photo by Karen Teng.

Cobble Hill sunset. Photo by Karen Teng.

I knew most of the major cities in BC but I had never heard of Cobble Hill before. I had no idea if it was in Northern BC, in the interior, or on the island. Turns out, Cobble Hill is a little under 4 hours from Vancouver on Vancouver Island. It’s a small town with a population of under 2,000 people.

I was born and raised in Vancouver and prior to my practicum I had never lived outside of the city, or even alone. I was nervous about going to Cobble Hill, a place that was foreign to me, with no familiar faces and an entirely new learning environment.

It was challenging to find accommodation for only one month. I started to do my research about Cobble Hill but what was available online was very limited. I was quite worried and stressed but thankfully, my fellow students gave me advice and support. I found a place within a ten minute walk to the pharmacy I worked at, and the owners and their pets were very welcoming. Little did I know, however, it wasn’t a common thing in the community to walk to get to places. I was an unusual sight on the roads, walking to and from work, and was soon to be known to all my co-workers as the one and only person walking on the roads!

I lived on a farm with horses and chickens. I wasn’t used to seeing miles and miles of farm land but it was very picturesque and relaxing, especially at sunset. I did feel homesick as this was my first time living away from home and being alone. To help deal with my homesickness, I was able to video call with my friends and family almost daily.

The first few days at the pharmacy were quite overwhelming, but the pharmacy staff and customers were very welcoming. My preceptor supported me and helped to build my confidence in counselling patients. She allowed me to take the initiative to make recommendations to doctors and dentists in-person and over the phone. She would give me pointers and tips before counselling patients or going over to talk to the doctors. I was lucky enough to be at a location where the doctor’s office was right next door. I was able to walk over and discuss with different doctors about drug therapy problems and make my recommendations. I was given the opportunity to collaborate inter-professionally as many students weren’t able to just walk next door and get to know the doctors.

One unique difference that I experienced while on practicum, as compared to working in Vancouver, was that patients in this small town were more easygoing and friendly. They were less time-sensitive and a lot more talkative. It felt like everyone knew each other and were always asking how their kids were or their plans for the weekend. It was very heartwarming to be part of this tight-knit community! Patients and customers were much more likely to share with you their plans and would make recommendations on where I should visit while I was here.

Another highlight I had during my practicum was being able to interview several patients. I was quite surprised how comfortable patients were to be interviewed by me, a first year Pharmacy student. I felt very well respected as they trusted me, a stranger, to better understand their condition and themselves as a patient. It was a very valuable experience as a pharmacy student to learn about the patient and discuss their drugs and conditions. Over the 4 weeks of my practicum, I was able to confidently counsel and interview patients and collaborate with other health care professionals. It was a very valuable experience for both my professional and personal development. This practicum also gave me the opportunity to explore more of BC and meet some wonderful people.

— Karen Teng, second-year Entry-to-Practice PharmD student


Advice, Current Students, Interviews, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

Why You Should Consider Joining a Pharmacy Club This Year

Pharmacy school can be tough and it’s important to strike a balance between academics and having a social life. One thing that really makes our Faculty stand out is that we have a variety of clubs within the Faculty, meaning students can engage in extracurricular activities with other fellow pharmacy students too!

Clubs Night. Photo by Ivan Yastrebov.

Joining a pharmacy club is a great way to make new friends, de-stress from academics, get involved in Faculty events, and possibly develop life skills as an executive member. Third-year pharmacy student, Jonathan Loong, spoke with reps from three clubs to learn more about what they have to offer – and why you should consider joining.

Pharmacy Business Club

What does the Pharmacy Business Club do? Why should students join?
The Pharmacy Business Club is a student-led, student-oriented venture that aims to inspire and educate prospective and practicing healthcare professionals in business-related disciplines. We stand for the advocacy of pharmacy (and for all recognized healthcare professions), innovation in practice, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Our goal is to help healthcare professionals and students foster the skills and creative capacity to facilitate, evolve, and revolutionize patient-centred care, their current or future practice, and the healthcare system as a whole.

What sets your club apart from the others?
All of the clubs within the Faculty are unique and offer something that appeals to the student body. However, we found there was a void between pharmacy business and the resources available to students outside the classroom. The Pharmacy Business Club provides students with the platform to lead any initiative they are passionate about, from food drives to setting up networking events with members from the business community.

What is THE major event or thing that everyone looks forward to?
The flagship event for Pharmacy Business Club is Independent’s Night. We held our inaugural event in January 2018, hosting 7 community pharmacy owners from across the province. We had speakers from Fort St. John, Sorrento, and various cities in the Lower Mainland. The purpose of this event is to promote independent pharmacy ownership. Independent’s Night gives students the opportunity to ask questions directly to the owners in a small group settings.

What is a piece of advice you’d give to potential pharmacy applicants?
Explore. There are many aspects to pharmacy practice, and it can be overwhelming to figure out what stream of the profession is best suited for you. It is a rewarding profession with many different avenues that may be explored.

UBC Vocal Ensemble

What does the UBC Vocal Ensemble do? Why should students join?
The UBC Pharmacy Vocal Ensemble is a club that gets together once a week, to choose and practice songs which we later perform at pharmacy events or our own concerts throughout the year.

Students should ONLY join the vocal ensemble… if they enjoy singing. That is the one thing in common with every member of our club, and absolutely nothing else is a requirement. Heck, if you sing in the shower you can join! If you’re undecided, we strongly suggest that you check out a practice. We are a super laid back group, and everything we do is for fun. There’s no pressure, so feel free to come on by and see for yourself what the club has to offer.

What sets your club apart from the others?
First of all, our faculty does not have much variety in terms of hobby-related clubs. However, what really makes our club unique is that it is the one place where you can gather with your peers in all years of the program, not worry about exams or stress, and just relax and connect with others doing something we all love: singing.

What is THE major event or thing that everyone looks forward to?
Now this may be up for debate, but I have to say the Coffeehouse is THE event to look forward to (in our opinion anyway!) We essentially set up a small homey stage in the pharmacy building atrium, and students from all years of our program come out and showcase their musical talents, while others enjoy coffee, tea, and baked goods over a couple rounds of board games. We have a long list of registered acts, followed by an audience-wide sing-a-long of a popular song that everyone knows. Not only that, but during the open mic session afterwards, many shy students opened up and surprised everyone with huge hidden talent. It really blows your mind to see that this faculty of incredibly capable pharmacy students can do other things too!

What is a piece of advice you’d give to potential pharmacy applicants?
The best way to set yourself apart from other applicants is in the multiple mini interview session. My best advice? Be confident. Decide on how you want to approach each problem before you enter the room, and once it’s time, stick to your decided approach and explain your rationale. Be bold, and don’t be afraid to show some personality. If a station doesn’t go as well as you expected, the second it’s over, purge everything that happened from your mind, reset, and go into the next room, ready to perform.

UBC Pharmacy Yearbook

What does the UBC Pharmacy Yearbook club do? Why should students join?
Joining the Pharmacy Yearbook Club presents a unique opportunity for pharmacy students of any skill level to cultivate design and photography skills. We love to help our members learn, so often senior photographers or layout designers will hold tutorials to teach newer members. Of course, meeting with students from other years and developing friendships is a great benefit, and is key to the teamwork needed to produce a Yearbook.

What sets your club apart?
We are the only club that makes the Yearbook. Not many clubs in Pharmacy involve an artistic/creative aspect, so it is a refreshing change to our pharmacy-filled lives.

What is THE major event or thing that everyone looks forward to?
Valentine’s Day. Not only do we make the Yearbook, but we also organize multiple events. One such event is organizing the candy-grams on Valentine’s Day, during which the whole team works together to take orders, and deliver hand-packaged candies to pharmacy students from their peers.

What is a piece of advice you would give to potential pharmacy applicants?
Develop your non-pharmacy skills, and don’t be afraid to show your creative side. Become a well-rounded student try not to only focus on the academic part of pharmacy.

Questions? Get in touch with these club committees here:
Pharmacy Business Club
UBC Pharmacy Vocal Ensemble 
UBC Pharmacy Yearbook

— Jonathan Loong, third-year Entry-to-Practice PharmD student

Advice, Current Students, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

How to Get Involved with Research at the Faculty

The pharmacy profession is rapidly evolving and many entry-to-practice students are looking for ways to diversify their experiences.

Summer Student Research Program

One way to get involved in student research is through the Faculty’s summer student research program (SSRP). In today’s guest post, second-year student and Summer 2017 SSRP alum Karn Puri shares his advice and experiences.

Managing your schedule
The SSRP may seem like additional work on top of an already busy schedule but it’s not as demanding as you may think! Work typically starts after final exams and supervisors are willing to work around your practicum schedule.

Securing a spot in the program
Last year there were less than 20 spots available so we had to move fast to secure a position! I recommend talking to professors after class or in their office about potential research opportunities. If you want to secure a position, you should try to talk to them at the start of the year as new spots may have become available. Don’t hesitate to have this conversation! Your professors may seem intimidating at first, but they’re honestly some of the nicest people you’ll meet and are willing to put in the time and effort to train you into a well-rounded student.

What’s expected of you
There are two expectations of SSRP students: to work hard, and to have a good attitude. Previous experience is ideal for most labs but not absolutely required. Keep an eye out for the program application form which is usually sent out via UBC email in second semester. The application requires your transcript, a current resume, and a short explanation of your interest in the SSRP. Students are paid a salary for their participation in the program, which is usually around $4,557 CDN for the 12-week period.

At the SSRP poster presentation

Benefits of the program
The SSRP program is a lot more than a resume booster. The skills you learn in a research lab can’t be learned in a lecture. It requires a change in mindset. Missing one step of a procedure will cost you one or two marks in an end of block exam, but in the lab, it may cost you weeks of work and thousands of dollars! The critical attention to detail required to work in a research lab is very relevant to future pharmacists who will be managing multiple medications and handling sensitive patient care.

The poster competition and multiple lab meetings help develop public speaking abilities and give a sense of what it takes to maintain the interest of an audience. Pharmacists teach and counsel patients, so understanding how to communicate effectively is a very important skill. Student research also enriches your studies by helping you to apply lecture knowledge to generate data in the lab. For students who want to specialize, this is a good way to acquire a deeper understanding of your area of interest.

Karn’s personal experience
As a student in Dr. Rodrigues’ lab, my experience was very rewarding. The lab was supportive and willing to put in lots of their own time into my learning. I worked under a graduate student to help generate data, but I know that other undergraduate students have worked directly under a principal investigator. As I gained more experience over the course of the summer, I could carry out different lab techniques with minimal supervision.

At the end of term, all SSRP students were expected to participate in a poster competition. I spent some of my free time between experiments reading cardiovascular papers and understanding the theory behind the lab techniques to prepare for the contest. Also, my lab members constructively critiqued the poster until it was presentable. The competition took place mid-September during school hours. All participants were given a time slot to present and answer questions. The judges looked for a coherent and well-articulated presentation that conveyed a single, straightforward message with supporting evidence. At the end of the research day, prizes were given out for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

The SSRP program gave me appreciation of the time and effort it takes to generate the information that is used to guide our clinical decisions. Furthermore, I acquired an important set of skills that will be useful for pharmacy practice.

I would strongly recommend this program to anyone who has the chance to participate and advise that you try to find a supervisor early.

Submitted by Karn Puri, Class of 2020

Advice, Current Students, Life at UBC Pharm Sci, Prospective Students

Advice for Incoming First Years on Studying, Adjusting, and More

To the Class of 2021: Welcome to the Faculty! We are looking forward to seeing you in September, and we hope you’re feeling good about this next chapter. It’s helpful to hear other people’s experiences and tips when starting something new, so we’ve asked second year student, Sam Chu, and Year 1 instructor, Kathy Seto, for their insight and advice.

Above the Student Nest. Image: UBC Communications & Marketing.

As Year 1 progressed, how did you adjust your studying and learning style?
At the start of the program I put a lot of effort into trying to achieve perfect results in every assessment that we had. I soon realized that with the amount of material and the rate it’s delivered, this would be a very challenging route to take. I started to take the small assessments as more of a check point of where I should be. I also began to study a lot more with classmates and upper years. Being curious is a big part of this program, and my curiosity has helped me to make many like-minded friends among classmates and upper years!

What’s one tip you wish you knew at the beginning of year 1?
“The program is very short, enjoy every moment of it.” I was very lucky to have made the friends that I did very early on into this program, and they have taught me to be grateful for every second I spend here. It will be hard, it can get overwhelming, and it is stressful – without a doubt! But you will never be alone, and that’s one thing that I’ve really enjoyed. The best tip I can give anyone coming into the program, or even still going through pharmacy school, is to take the moment and make it into what you want it to be, so that you can enjoy every last second of it.

How do you think studying or learning in PHRM 100 differs from the pre-requisite courses students took?
In pre-requisite courses, I think students tend to focus mainly on memorization. In our program, I would encourage students to try and shift their study strategy away from “memorize and regurgitate”, because that usually doesn’t work very well in a professional program. Students should try to focus on making connections between what they are learning and how they can use this knowledge to provide better patient care in their future practices. This really is the best way to learn and retain information in a meaningful way!

Do you have 2-3 tips on how a year 1 student can make the most of the Integration Activities (IA)?
Do your homework and make sure you’re prepared for your IA sessions! You will learn better if you are thoroughly engaged in the moment, rather than spending the session trying to figure out what is going on and just trying to stay afloat. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and try not to obsess about marks. Shift your mindset by asking yourself, “what can I learn from my mistake so that I don’t do this again in practice?” and “how will learning this make me a better pharmacist?” And lastly, relax and have fun! You’ll take away so much more from the session if you are calm and enjoying what you’re learning.

If you need support during this transition, or any time over the next four years, you can drop in to UBC Pharm Sci’s Student Services office. We’re open Monday to Friday, 8.30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and we’re located beside the East entrance to the Pharm Sci building.  You can also check out UBC’s Student Services website for interesting information on health and wellbeing, careers, studying, resources across campus, and more.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and we’ll see you in a few weeks!

Contributed by Karie Hanson, Program Advisor and Manager, UBC Pharm Sci.

Advice, Current Students, General Interest, Life at UBC Pharm Sci, Prospective Students

Rethinking Your Approach to Learning: How I Study in Pharmacy School

Disclaimer: The opinions in the following article are my own. I do not speak on behalf of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 

UBC Pharm Sci students

So, you made it into pharmacy school. You’re looking at an exciting four years that will help to shape you into the best pharmacist you can be. I remember starting my first year at UBC Pharm Sci feeling the way many others do: ambitious and passionate to learn.

Despite being a good student with a positive attitude, I realized over time that I needed to change my approach to learning if I were to be successful in this faculty. More importantly, I needed to make those changes if I wanted to be a competent pharmacist.

If I had to summarize how my studying mindset needed to change, it would be this: I had to realize that I am not only studying for exams – I am studying to become a competent practitioner. Though that statement may sound obvious, it summarizes the mindset that pharmacy students need to adopt to be successful in their careers.

Now, of course you need to pass your exams and aim for good grades. But if you only study with the question “What do I need to know for the test?” in mind, then you don’t allow yourself to be curious, and curiosity is key to learning.

To put this in context: an instructor may tell you that a complication of untreated high blood pressure (hypertension) is the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). When studying for your exam, don’t just memorize this fact; ask yourself “why?” and look up the pathophysiological mechanisms that explain how high blood pressure can result in CKD — even if it wasn’t covered in class.

Asking yourself questions while studying, particularly those not answered in class, and finding answers to these questions has the benefit of solidifying your learning. You can imagine that most patients won’t be happy with “I didn’t learn about that in school” as an answer to their questions. And beyond that, it trains you to develop the skills that you will need as a future clinician. No pharmacist (or any other health care practitioner for that matter) can have all the answers to everything. Continued education is important for any clinician and, if you make a habit of self-studying while in school, self-studying outside of school where you no longer have the benefit of instructors guiding you becomes a lot easier. Furthermore, asking questions is fundamental to skepticism and, as clinicians working in a science driven, evidence-based practice, it’s important that you be a skeptic when appraising the literature on drug therapies to accurately assess their safety and effectiveness.

Furthermore, by asking questions and really engaging with the study materials, you will train yourself to think critically. Critical thinking is a key skill for all pharmacists. The ability to take in information, consider all angles, make an assessment, and then decide (with your patient’s personal values in mind) on a course of action is all part of the clinical decision making process.

If you’re reading this as a prospective student and feeling intimidated – don’t be! You will be in the right environment to develop this new mindset and foster your new skills. You have four years to practice, and experienced instructors to help guide you along. All that’s needed from you is the willingness to be curious, to be a skeptic, and to not forget what it is that you’re really studying for.

So next time you’re studying, ask yourself this: “Do I feel competent enough to manage and treat patients with this condition?”

You owe it to yourself and your future patients to become the best pharmacist that you can be.

— John Groumoutis

John is a third year student in the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy program. John is a member of the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists, and is an advocate for clinical pharmacy. Beyond pharmacy, John is interested in philosophy. In his spare time he enjoys reading or watching science fiction, and boxing.

Current Students, General Interest, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

“What’s in your bag?” Pharmacy Student Edition

UBC Pharm Sci Student Ambassadors

UBC Pharm Sci Student Ambassadors

There’s no doubt that our pharmacy students spend a lot of time on campus, often relying on what’s packed in their bag to help them get through the day. We asked our Pharm Sci student ambassadors: what’s in your bag that you can’t go a day without? Here’s what they had to say:

Lisa: “Fingerless gloves are a staple for me during the winter months. They’re extremely useful when you require the finger dexterity to type notes or use a touch screen. Also, instant coffee or tea bags provide that caffeine boost necessary to stay awake at a Monday morning lecture or a late night studying session. As the weather gets gloomier, it’s more convenient to come prepared so that I don’t have to trek outdoors in search of a hot drink.”

John: “I can’t go without my copy of the RxFiles. It’s an extremely handy resource that allows you to look up the treatments and management of disease states in a pinch. It provides tons of information in a compact manner, and even provides evidence and citations from major randomized controlled trials.”

Melina: “The two things I can’t live without in my school bag are my lip balm and calendar. I really can’t stand dry lips because it’s so uncomfortable and just drives me nuts. My calendar basically has my life in it. I have all my exams, meetings, events and appointments in there.”

Alex: “Napkins. When it comes to eating I’m a bit of a slob, so having a few close-by during lectures really pays off. Whether it be for wiping spills or a runny nose, napkins are essential. Also, Fluxx. It’s a small card game I pull out whenever I have a break between classes. It’s a fun game with rules that keep changing. Somehow, I find peace within this chaotic game.”

Questions for our student ambassadors? Leave a comment below or on Facebook.


Advice, Current Students, General Interest, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

Practical Advice for Perfectionists: Creating a Healthier Work Ethic

Happy New Year everyone! It’s time to focus on your studies again. Rather than talking about setting a New Year’s goal, I would like to talk to students who have a habit of setting sky high goals, and are continually adding to the long list of achievements they would like to accomplish.

Students in IKB

Students in the UBC Irving K Barber Learning Centre. Image credit: Martin Dee / UBC Communications & Marketing.

This blog post is for students that fall into the perfectionist category, and chances are you can identify if you fall into that category even a little. I spoke with Rachel Vella-Zarb and Alex Daros from UBC Counselling Services to find out more about perfectionism and how we can move towards a healthier work ethic.

What are some characteristics or habits of a perfectionist?
Whether we are aware of it or not, we all evaluate how worthwhile we think we are as person based on some kind of personal evaluation system. We may think we are a worthwhile person if we are kind or helpful, we may think we are worthwhile if we are attractive or thin, we may think we are worthwhile if we have a good job or make a significant amount of money.

In perfectionism, self-worth is based largely on achievement or performance. Perfectionism involves setting excessively high personal standards and striving to meet them at all costs. Along with these high standards, perfectionists often don’t take into account that setbacks and mistakes are normal and a part of learning. They may also have difficulty when emotions and motivation fluctuate. When standards are not met, perfectionists become highly self-critical. This then pushes them to set even higher standards or avoid trying entirely. When standards are (temporarily) met, perfectionists often experience minimal satisfaction from these achievements. Instead, meeting their goal is often dismissed as meaning the goal was “too easy,” and higher standards are then set.

What are some characteristics or habits of someone with a healthy work ethic?
When it comes to a “healthy pursuit of excellence” as opposed to perfectionism, self-worth is based on several different factors, not just performance. For example, achievement may be very important to someone but it may also important to them to be a good sister, friend, or daughter. When high standards are set, they are high but not objectively excessively high.

If standards are met, that person takes pride and satisfaction in this accomplishment by celebrating their success. If standards are not met, the person considers what went wrong and revises their goals or problem solves for next time. A healthy mindset means accepting that mistakes and even failures are possible and we can learn from these moments. A healthy work ethic means aiming for “very good,” not flawless. It also means distributing time and energy across different areas of importance, not putting it all into work. It involves recognizing that it’s normal for emotions to fluctuate and it is important to take care of oneself during stressful times.

What are some reasons a person may be a perfectionist?
Some people are more perfectionistic than others for a variety of reasons. It may be in part due to genetics, and in part due to learning from others (e.g., parents, teachers, siblings). Many people who are perfectionistic have been rewarded for their efforts and achievements and therefore place emphasis on this area of their life. They may have learned to set high goals and work towards them but find that over time, their standards become higher and higher and self-criticism becomes more and more demanding to the point where it is not helpful and instead causes problems. Over time, perfectionism is maintained by rigid standards, emphasis on achievement, discounting successes, overemphasizing setbacks, and frequent negative self-evaluation and self-criticism.

How can we move from perfectionism to a more healthy work ethic?
Perfectionists are often reluctant to make changes because they fear “lowering their standards.” Changing perfectionism is not about lowering standards, but rather it is about considering ways that achievement can be better met and considering whether it’s helpful to base self-worth so heavily on achievement. Many people believe that the harder you work, the better you do; actually, research indicates that that with too much effort, performance tails off or doesn’t get incrementally better.

People who want to adjust their perfectionistic behaviours may want to work on two main areas: (1) their thoughts or self-talk and (2) their behaviours. From a cognitive perspective, you can begin by talking to yourself as if you were a good coach. A good coach doesn’t offer constant criticism or set higher and higher goals, rather a good coach offers positive feedback and constructive suggestions. When you catch yourself setting high standards or evaluating yourself negatively, you can ask “are these expectations reasonable given the circumstances?” “what are the costs and benefits of pursuing this goal in this way?” and “what would I say to someone I was mentoring or coaching if they felt this way?”

Another strategy is to be mindful of what’s going well in your life, as perfectionists often tend to discount successes. One way to challenge this attitude is to keep track of three good things per day (big or small). Keep these good things recorded on a piece of paper and continue to follow-up by adding new things each day. This can become a good motivational piece when displayed in your office or where you study.

From a behavioural perspective, you can begin to look at some of the behaviours that maintain perfectionism, for example over-preparing, re-reading, repeated checking, or excessive planning. Once you’ve identified these areas, you can try some behavioural experiments where you work for one week at your current level of effort, and then one week at 80% effort, and compare the outcomes. For example, if you notice that you tend to re-read emails at least three times to scan them for errors before sending them, try doing this for one week and record the outcomes (i.e., how many mistakes you make that others notice and how many mistakes you make that have significant outcomes). Then spend the next week re-reading emails once and note the same outcomes. Figuring out how to cut back time spent on lower priority tasks is an important part of being efficient.

For some additional work on perfectionism, check out the following book recommendations:

Antony, M.M., & Swinson, R. (2009). When perfect isn’t good enough: Strategies for coping with perfectionism (2nd edition). New Harbinger Publications.

Ben-Shahar, T. (2010). Being happy: you don’t have to be perfect to lead a richer, happier life. McGraw-Hill.


If this blog post resonates with you, why not give some of these suggestions a try this year! After reading through Rachel and Alex’s advice, I think it would be helpful to write down your thought patterns about grades and studying, and also write down what your goals are in school and extracurricular involvement. Once you’ve written your goals and thought patterns, you can experiment with what a reasonable goal could be. You can also identify your common thought patterns, making it easier to see them creep up while studying.

What would happen if you studied and worked on assignments without the sky-high goals? Experimenting with ways to move into a healthier work ethic can help you in your studying, career, and personal life for years to come.

Wishing you all ease and happiness in 2017!

Karie Hanson. Karie is the Program Advisor and Manager for the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is originally from Sherwood Park, Alberta, and graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation, Sport and Tourism. Outside of work, Karie enjoys playing baseball, basketball, walking the seawall, and volunteering with older adults.

If you feel that you need some additional support and would like to speak with a counsellor, you can visit UBC Counselling Services during their drop-in hours to meet with a Wellness Advisor. There are two Counselling Services locations on campus, and you can find their contact information, drop-in hours, and general information here.

Advice, Current Students, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

Best Places to Eat on Campus

Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite to eat in between classes or foraging for study fuel, these food options will be sure to appease that growling stomach.

Within five minutes of the Pharmaceutical Sciences Building:

When time is of the essence, Daily Dose (a UBC Food Services café) and Starbucks at UBC Tech are the go-to’s for a quick samosa or scone. Especially with the new mobile order system, it’s possible to run to and from Starbucks in the ten-minute break between lectures.

15-30 minutes to spare?

UBC Village is probably the best option in terms of variety and price. The basement food court serves Japanese, Chinese and Mediterranean food as well as pho and Mongolian barbecue. Upstairs, Running Chicken provides a range of traditional Korean food (i.e. bulgogi, bibimbap) as well as Korean−style fried chicken. It’s a good place to sit down with friends and chat over some Passion Chicken and beer although they also provide takeout. Another find is Only U Café which serves all day breakfast as well as a selection of different hot and cold sandwiches and entrees. My guilty pleasure is visiting in the afternoon to enjoy their bacon and avocado eggs benedict!

The Delly at the AMS Nest: This place has all of your basic breakfast and lunch options with wraps, baked goods and salads to munch on. Best of all, you can order your own customized sandwiches. Healthy food AND an incentive to get outside of the Pharmaceutical Sciences building for some exercise and fresh air.

One hour break?

Head south down to Wesbrook Village for a bowl of savoury Taiwanese beef noodle from Chef Hung’s. With multiple customization options for the noodles, soup and meat or vegetables, there is something available for every stomach. Or, wander over to the Doughgirls Comfort Kitchen and Bakeshop to indulge in a french almond croissant or a shepherd’s pie straight from the oven. Their menu changes seasonally and is always packed with tempting baked goods, homemade jams, and hot comfort foods.

— Lisa Wang

Lisa Wang is a second year student in the Entry-to-Practice PharmD program. Lisa is a member of the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists. She can also be found designing pages for the faculty yearbook, planning top secret Skits Night scenes, or leading tours for Open House events. Outside of Pharm Sci, Lisa participates in research and plays in a string quartet. 

Lisa is a member of the new Faculty Student Ambassador Program. Questions for Lisa? Leave a comment here or on Facebook.

Advice, Current Students, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

Mark Your Calendars: What To Do In Your First Few Weeks

There are plenty of UBC Pharm Sci events and clubs to join, especially in the first few weeks of class. It can get a little overwhelming! Not to worry, our Faculty Student Ambassador and second-year student, Alex Assumption, is here to help.

Great Pharmacy Adventure

Great Pharmacy Adventure

GPA (The Great Pharmacy Adventure)
9 a.m., September 4, 2016

GPA Day hosted by the Pharmacy Undergraduate Society (PhUS). Incoming students are grouped together to compete in a scavenger hunt riddled with hilarious games to play and crafty puzzles to solve. It’s an amazing opportunity for first-years to put themselves out there and connect with each other so that the first day of classes doesn’t feel so daunting. Plus, with tons of giveaways and free food, how can you go wrong?

Shoppers Drug Mart Welcome Back BBQ
12 p.m., September 9, 2016

What’s the best way to enjoy the last few days of summer and sunshine? By having a BBQ! The Welcome Back BBQ is held on the first Friday of every academic year to give students the opportunity to relax and catch-up on summer stories after a hectic first week of orientation and course overview. Shoppers Drug Mart staff cook up delicious burgers and share their advice for pharmacy students.

Pharmacy Clubs Night
5:30 p.m., September 13, 2016

If you’re thinking about getting involved with a pharmacy-related club but have no idea where to start, Clubs Night is for you. Pharmacy offers so many unique clubs and programs that you are bound to find one that you are passionate about. From the Pharmacy Evidence Appraisal Club to the Pharmacy Vocal Ensemble, our faculty has it all. Oh, and the night concludes with a pizza dinner hosted by PhUS (see the pattern here?).

Peer Mentorship Kick-Off
5:30 p.m., September 14, 2016

The Peer Mentorship Program was developed with the goal of facilitating first-year students’ transition into the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, as well as providing students with a support network spanning across all pharmacy classes. To do this, two or three first-year students will be paired with a mentor from an upper year. These mentors can answer and burning questions and share their insight and experiences with their “mentees”. When I was a mentee in the program last year, advice from upper years was incredibly helpful for me. The Kick-Off event allows first-years to be introduced to their mentors, interact with other classmates, and to form a foundation for a lasting friendship.

Great Pharmacy Adventure

Great Pharmacy Adventure

PhUS Student-Led Campus Tours
3:30 p.m., September 16, 2016

With the UBC campus spanning almost 1,000 acres, it can be overwhelming trying to see it all! PhUS has put together an entertaining walking tour that highlights the major attractions and student hubs UBC offers, including the Museum of Anthropology, Beaty Biodiversity Museum, Wreck Beach, and the AMS Nest. They’ll also show you the cheapest places to get food and groceries on campus!

More events on the PhUS Interclub Calendar. See you in September!

Alex Assumption is a second year student in the Entry-to-Practice PharmD Program. Alex is committed to helping fellow students in their personal and professional improvement and is a member of the Pharmacy Undergraduate Society and the Peer Mentorship Program. When Alex isn’t studying or working with student clubs, he’s usually watching House or Prison Break on Netflix and searching for new music. What makes Alex’s day? The Earth’s rotation around the Sun!

Alex is a member of the new Faculty Student Ambassador Program. Questions for Alex? Leave a comment here or on Facebook.