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SOP Orientation Sets Expectations for New Students

Incoming Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) and graduate students participate in week of fun, informative activities to gain familiarity with the School and campus community.

Tania Tajzad and Akua Preko attend New Student Orientation.

By Malissa Carroll
August 25, 2015

On August 18, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy kicked off new student orientation for members of the Class of 2019. Activities designed to introduce incoming students to the School of Pharmacy and set expectations for the next four years spanned three days and included remarks from Jay A. Perman, MD, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FCP, FAAPS, dean and professor of the School.

“As a result of your hard work, you have been admitted to one of the best schools of pharmacy in the United States – a school that takes pride in leading pharmacy education, scientific discovery, patient care, and community engagement in the state of Maryland and beyond,” said Eddington, who noted that only 15 percent of individuals who apply are granted admission to the School’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. “The next four years will be challenging. Although our faculty will provide you with the tools and support that you need to succeed, it is up to you to commit both the time and effort to ensure your success.”

In addition to emphasizing the importance of time management to ensure that students are able to successfully manage their coursework – a concept repeated across many faculty members’ presentations – Eddington spoke about professionalism, asking students to conduct themselves in a manner that would make their family and friends proud. “Each of you has at least one person who has impacted your life in a significant way. Write this individual’s name on your ‘Why I Will Be Professional’ pledge card and carry it with you as a reminder to act in a professional manner at all times,” she encouraged.

Following Eddington’s remarks, Sandeep Devabhakthuni, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) at the School, was introduced as the advisor for the Class of 2019. He spoke about his career and provided students with some tips to help them succeed during their first year, including finding the right mentor, making friends, and getting involved. Richard Dalby, PhD, associate dean for academic affairs and professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences (PSC), later offered an overview of the curriculum and advised students about the importance of actively engaging in their education.

“The days of listening to lectures and memorizing facts are disappearing,” said Dalby. “As student pharmacists, you will be exposed to a challenging therapeutics and science-based curriculum that will require your active participation. Be prepared to engage with the material and ask questions about concepts that you do not understand.”

Students participated in a number of additional activities throughout the week to help prepare them for their new lives as student pharmacists, including a student organization gala and a fashion show that demonstrated the importance of professional attire and behavior. They had opportunities to network with each other as well as with the School’s faculty, and were sized for their white coats, which they will receive during the School’s White School Ceremony on September 11.

“I’m learning that this experience is much different than pursuing an undergraduate degree,” says Akua Preko, an incoming first-year student. “Attending orientation has been invaluable, and has allowed me to gather all of the important resources that I will need to begin my first year at the School of Pharmacy in one place. I am looking forward to learning a lot of new skills, especially how to best manage my time to ensure my success in the program.”

“Orientation is a great opportunity for members of our class to get to know each other,” adds Tania Tajzad, another first-year student. “After listening to the presentations, I feel energized and cannot wait to begin classes. Although I have worked in pharmacies in the past and know some of the basic concepts, I’m eager to learn the details and looking forward to tackling the challenging curriculum.”

The Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) also hosted orientations for new students in their graduate programs. Students in the PSC PhD Program were introduced to the different types of research conducted in the department through a series of presentations by faculty. Incoming students from the PHSR PhD Program met with Frank Palumbo, PhD, JD, director of the program and professor in PHSR, and Colleen Day, the program’s academic coordinator, to set expectations for coursework, teaching assistantships, and research rotations. Both departments hosted luncheons attended by faculty, postdoctoral fellows, staff, and current students to welcome their new students.

Classes at the School of Pharmacy began August 24, with students on the Baltimore campus welcomed back with an afternoon ice cream social. An ice cream social is also scheduled for the School’s Shady Grove campus on August 26.

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