cul-mi-na-tion : the highest or climactic point of something, especially as attained after a long time.
Does it feel like you’ve been climbing a mountain for the past 6 years – stopping to breathe along the way; getting food, water, and a bit of sleep; but never stopping until you reach the top? You’re almost there! You have one final push until you’ll look out from the summit of the mountain at the vast landscape that is your career. You’ve worked hard to get here, and I know you can do it!
So, what’s the best way to get through this final climb? Let’s start by taking a step back.
When you started the climb, you were excited, full of motivation and excitement for the journey. You’ve passed tests, lab assessments, IPPEs, and now experiential rotations. As the path got steeper and the terrain rockier, you persevered. Now you have just two more sections of the mountain to climb – the NAPLEX and MPJE.
You’ve learned a lot in the past 5 years – really everything you need to know to pass the exams and get to the top. So why is it important to stop and review when you’d rather just power through? It’s the critical last step. Here’s why…
Most of what you know from pharmacy school you learned at least a year ago, and in some cases 5 years ago. And even though you put your knowledge to the test during experiential rotations, chances are you didn’t use everything you’ve learned. That’s where a refresher course is worth the investment of time and money.
While review courses can be expensive, the earning potential of not being licensed and the fees to retake the exam far outweigh what you will spend on a refresher course. Would you really take the chance of not getting to the top of the mountain when you’ve already gotten this far?
Take the time to ensure you get to the top by investing in a review course. Think of it as the last bit of oxygen and food before you make one last push to reach the summit.
Have I convinced you? Good! Now how do you go about finding a review? Here are the top ten things a good refresher/review course should include:
A general review of the most common therapeutic areas and the drugs used to treat them.
- Top drugs prescribed
The top two hundred (at least) drugs that are most seen in practice, including brand and generic name.
- Pharmacy calculations
This is important! And if it includes a pharmacoquantitative review, that’s even better. For example, not just simple calculations, but an opportunity to practice dosing, milliequivalents, biopharmaceutics, isotonicity, compounding, and total parenteral nutrition calculations.
A refresher on pharmacy and clinical abbreviations by using flashcards or another way to jog your memory.
The best law review will include an opportunity to both refresh your knowledge and review examples of pharmacy laws and regulations from the FDA, DEA, and federal and state governments.
- Practice questions and/or exercises
Both the NAPLEX and MPJE are multiple choice exams, so an opportunity to practice taking multiple choice tests is key. If you’re near the end of your rotations it’s been months to a year since you’ve taken an exam, so just getting back in the groove of answering multiple choice questions is important.
- Multiple modes of learning
Everyone learns differently, so if you can find a course that has written, video, and practice opportunities, that’s ideal. This will give your mind a break from learning in all one way.
Reviews can be expensive! Doing a quick search, the prices range from a couple hundred dollars to well over a thousand! Be sure what you’re getting is not only in your budget, but that it includes everything mentioned on this list. For example, invest in actual review materials instead of just buying practice questions or flashcards.
Do you want it available from your phone, computer, and/or in print? Be sure it’s convenient so you actually use it.
Give yourself enough time to digest it all. A good review will include all the above. Once you purchase it, map out on a calendar detailing when you will study and practice. If you wait until the last minute and cram it in, you won’t get the full benefit.
Think of it as the last time to rest and get sustenance before you summit the mountain. You need enough time to eat, rehydrate, and get a good night’s sleep before heading out.
“Everybody wants to reach the peak, but there is no growth on the top of a mountain. It is in the valley that we slog through, the lush grass and rich soil, learning and becoming what enables us to summit life’s next peak.” Andy Andrews
You have done what many people won’t. You’ve worked hard to reach your goals and you’re almost there. Give yourself the best chance to reach the peak. Slog through one more step so you can summit the mountain and take in the beauty of what lies ahead for your career as a pharmacist and member of the healthcare team. You’ve got this!