Inspiring Diaspora story:My Journey to Doctor in Pharmacy
To all class of 2015 graduates, congratulations. Whether it’s a high school graduation or a doctorate graduation, you have made it and another chapter in your life have just began!!
My health care journey started just right when I graduated from high school. I started with a bachelor of Nursing in Finland. All through when I was doing my Nursing, I had a deep desire to advance my studies but at that point, I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do. In my second year of nursing school, I did my exchange program in Birmingham, UK. After my exchange program, two thing were clear to me, first I wanted to study in an English speaking country and that I wanted to practice nursing in an English speaking country. People in Finland spoke finish and even though I spoke the language, I wasn’t fluent enough to study an intense program in finish
My Journey to the United States:
I was raised in strong Christian values and my Dad taught me that I could have what I want if it is God’s will and if I ask for him as well as work hard. I began praying for a green card when I was in Finland right after my UK exchange program. All I remember is one day when I was praying for my green card and I saw someone give me a letter in my prayers. After that, I had a strong feeling that I will win a Green Card. Needless to say that is was the year I won a green card which was also the year before I graduated from my Nursing school. It took me almost 9 months to process the green card, by the time I was done, I had graduated from the Nursing school and worked in one of Finland’s operating room. Then my next adventure was living in the United States.
Career Choices in the United States:
One of my options was to do Biomedical engineering. However, as I talked to different people and searched through the internet, Pharmacy seemed to be marketable (then, not so much now). I started working in Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, there I met a Kenyan Pharmacist, and I really admired his work and lifestyle. After spending time in Presbyterian, It was clear Pharmacy is what I wanted to do.
Journey of pharmacy career begins:
To be a pharmacist in the United States is a 6-8 years Doctorate program depending on the routes you choose to take. 3 of the first years are pre-pharmacy and 4 years is in a pharmacy program. I knew Pharmacy schools were pretty competitive and making good grades were very critical. I worked so hard to make as many A’s as possible to some extend I started feeling as if I lived in a bubble (going to school in the weekday and working in the weekends). Then one of my friends told me, for a seed to germinate, it has to die, this was my dying period and it really was, because all the people I kept close were either if we went to school with you or worked with you.
While choosing which Pharmacy school to go, school ranking was somehow important to me. So when I got accepted to university of Wisconsin-Madison, I decided to take the challenge.
University of Wisconsin-Madison life:
Pharmacy is generally a tough program no matter which school you go to. University of Wisconsin –Madison was no. 5 in the country for a reason. They made the program challenging, the exams were tough and students were extremely motivated. (I have never studied with so many type A’s in the class like I did in this school). We had 21 exams in a semester and assignments in between. This made studying for so many hours (sometimes 13 hours a day) a norm. I felt like I was always tired, lived on coffee and caffeine. Sometimes I did have bad days and sometimes I crying just felt so nice!! It sounds as if they were dark moments, but I learnt how to push myself hard, I learnt how to love challenges and to always set my bar high. Feeling sorry for myself or having sympathy was not one of my options. I had to keep moving even when my energy felt like it was depleted.
End of the journey:
The joy of graduation was unbelievable!! I didn’t think this long journey could come to an end this fast. I graduated this May. I felt like a huge load have been taken off my back. This is all God’s doing and to him be all the glory. In this journey, I have learnt that no one makes through a journey successful alone. On my way, I met friends that encouraged me, my parents kept believing in me and my cousins were my biggest cheer leaders (sometimes you need to be cheered esp. when you feel like folding in a fetal position).
Advice for those in any program:
Don’t give up!! There are certain characters that helped me when I was in Pharmacy school. Some I had to build and some I had them. 1) Good organization skills and time management. 2) Hard work 3) Self-Motivation. 4) Attention to details. 5) Be focused all the time!! 6) Build up some obsessive compulsive disorder of some type 7) be nice to everyone, you never know when they might be of help.
If you have any questions regarding Pharmacy or Nursing practice in the United States, please don’t hesitate to write me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org it will be my joy to assist anyone who would like any kind of help in their journey.
By Karey Kinuthia