Graduating student reflects on pharmacy school during pandemic

Elizabeth Satterwhite, class of 2022, reflects on her experience attending pharmacy school during a global pandemic. Following her graduation on May 5 she will be taking part in an ambulatory care residency at the Providence Sacred Heart Pharmacotherapy Clinic in Spokane, Washington.

What has been the greatest struggle for you as a pharmacy student going through this pandemic?
I think the greatest struggle for me was remaining motivated to study and learn. I found the third-year fall semester to be where I struggled the most – there was always work to do and I felt fatigue setting in.

Elizabether Satterwhite (right) celebrating the end of the third year with her closest class of 2022 friends in May 2021.

What sort of advice can you offer students who are going through their didactic experiences right now?
The best advice I can offer is to have a group of classmates that are your friends that you can rely on. Don’t worry if you haven’t identified them yet. I didn’t find my group of friends until the spring semester of my first year (PY1). Find those people that motivate you to come to class and inspire you to ask questions and learn together. When the going gets tough, they have your back and you have theirs.

I also really suggest being involved. I know it sounds cliché, and your schoolwork should always come first, but diving into extracurriculars is such a great way to reinforce what you learn at school. You will also get better at talking to people, networking/meeting people, and it will help you develop leadership skills like conflict resolution, time management and more.

That being said – PLEASE give yourself down time. Get at least seven hours of sleep a night. It’s so important. If you’re trying to study and you’re reading the same line over and over again, give yourself 15 minutes to walk around or browse social media to reset your brain. Give yourself break time. You deserve it.

Satterwhite with her cat, Opie, napping on her laptop during Interprofessional Education (IPE) class in September 2020.

How do you destress from pharmacy school?
I have several ways to destress. I have five cats and most of them like to play, snuggle and get pets. Exercise is also a good way to destress. I ran Bloomsday last year and enjoyed training for that. During the spring and summer months, I love growing vegetables in my garden. Going over to a friend’s house or going out for dinner is also a good way to relax and unwind.

If you could rewind time to do something differently in pharmacy school, what would it be?
There are several events that I did not attend my second year (PY2) spring semester because that is a busy semester for students. I didn’t go to the Washington State Pharmacy Association (WSPA) Legislative Day (Leg Day) and I didn’t go to a Brother Retreat that my fraternity Phi Delta Chi put on in Pullman due to a work conflict. If I had known the pandemic was about to hit and how much it would change things, I would have gone to both of those. That’s why it’s so important to do things, even if you don’t feel like it – tomorrow isn’t guaranteed!

What has been the most rewarding experience during this pandemic while in pharmacy school?
I think the pandemic really made me realize the importance of friendship, building relationships, and helping the next generation spread their wings. That made me commit to remaining involved at WSU during my fourth year. The most rewarding experience has been the people I have met and gotten to know better that wouldn’t have otherwise happened if I had not decided to be more involved.

What are you proud of now that you’re on the tail end of your pharmacy school experience?
I’m proud of myself for getting through it! I’m proud of myself for successfully juggling school, extracurriculars, work, exercise, a home life and a social life – it’s a lot!