Goutham Jaini, Pharmacy Superstar & Avid Volunteer

Our February Spotlight features Goutham Jaini, a second year pharmacy student at the University of British Columbia, and a dedicated community volunteer. In addition to rigorous studies in the competitive BSc Pharmacy program, he is an avid explorer of the health care system, as seen through his many volunteer roles, including ones as an Emergency Department Volunteer at St. Paul’s hospital, Recreation/Activities Assistant at St. Jude’s Anglican Home,  and Pharmacy Awareness Month Volunteer Coordinator for the UBC Undergraduate Pharmacy Society. In our interview below, Goutham explains why he decided to pursue pharmacy, offers advice for aspiring pharmacy students and provides studying hacks.

  1. How did you decide to pursue pharmacy?

My decision to pursue pharmacy wasn’t one that I made hastily; it was one that started in grade 12 and continued to my first two years of undergrad at UBC. My ideal career has always revolved around healthcare and the opportunity to have a true impact on people’s health on a daily basis convinced me to pursue pharmacy. I then talked to pharmacy students and a pharmacist to learn more about the profession and the program at UBC in general, before finally applying. Now, in my second year of pharmacy, I am thankful I decided to pursue this program.

The pharmacy program at UBC has an integrated curriculum/courses, meaning courses have connections with each other. For example, I could have a pharmacology lecture in the morning, in which I learn about the mechanisms of  different drugs. An hour later, I  would have a therapeutics lecture, in which I learn more about a specific condition and how it’s treated. Then, I apply what I just learned by counselling a mock patient with guidance from a practicing pharmacist.  This is one of many aspects of pharmacy that I am especially appreciative for because throughout my time at university, I have always tried to look for connections between my courses.  This type of learning feels especially rewarding to me because I am able to directly apply my knowledge in a scenario that can arise in a real pharmacy setting.

I would recommend pharmacy to anyone who finds this appealing and although the pharmacy program can be challenging at times, it is rewarding.

  1. For students aspiring to go into pharmacy, what is the most important piece of advice you could provide them with? 

Although volunteering or working in a pharmacy is not a requirement for admission to the UBC pharmacy program (I never did prior to being admitted), I would strongly advise students to talk to current pharmacy students and pharmacists about the profession and program to get a stronger understanding of what they are trying to enter. In my opinion, the pharmacy program is rigorous and can be challenging.  Prior to applying and possibly being admitted, it’s important students know whether this program is for them. However, keep in mind that the field of pharmacy is changing constantly, and that there are various routes you can take once you graduate from the pharmacy program. For example, you could work in a community pharmacy; you could pursue specialization in an area such as paediatrics and work in a hospital setting;  you could start your own business at some point.

  1. What are some studying and productivity hacks that you have learned over the years? 

I am an avid listener of podcasts and devoted blog reader on the topic of productivity. I recommend checking out “College Info Geek” and “The Tim Ferris Show” if you also are interested in this area and want to learn more.

I have learned about many studying/productivity “hacks” over the years, but I will only mention some that have personally worked for me. This is an important point, because learning and productivity can vary from person to person, so give them a try and see if they work for you. If not, try some others!

Three techniques that have worked for me include:

1. Being active in your learning. When studying before an exam, instead of reading the slide and trying to just make sense of it, I actively try to question myself, look away from the slide, and  try to answer the question in my own words. If there are questions I have difficulty with,  I  write them down on a separate piece of paper. Before my exam, I go over these questions to make sure I have those concepts solidified. A lot of the time, the questions I made up while studying will be variations of the ones actually examined.

2. This tip is an extension of my first one; actually utilizing learning objectives can be truly beneficial. The majority of the time, these learning objectives are the core of the exam. I incorporate learning objectives into my studying by converting them into questions and then answering them as I go through the lecture. Personally, I verbally answer the questions, but I know that some of my friends learn best when they write everything down.

3. This productivity tip is one I learned from a friend recently. I’m someone who spends way too much time scrolling down the Facebook news feed. When my friend told me about the Kill News Feed plugin on the Chrome browser, I instantly wanted to try it out. The plugin disables new feeds, but still allows you to message  friends and family. So far, I have spent less time on Facebook daily. If I ever really have the urge to see the newsfeed, I can still access it on my phone. Test out the plugin for yourself!

  1. What has been the best experience of your university career thus far? Why? 

As cliché as this answer is, I believe it’s the summation of an array of my experiences, both minor and grand, that I truly attribute to being the “best experience” of my university career thus far. So for now, I can’t attribute one sole event or experience as being my best experience of my university career, but maybe this will change before I graduate!

Want to ask Goutham a question? Schedule a chat with him today! Goutham is happy to provide advice through our free National Young Leader mentorship program.

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