Putting my discipline to the test

Distance Learning

Education is expensive, but being a single mom and attending a distance pharmacy program, where I am earning a PharmD online from the Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, is priceless!

Degree lifeline

I remember I was very skeptical of an online doctorate program, but when I got an invitation to visit the school and learn more about its technology, I was amazed. This unique Jesuit, Catholic school allows students who cannot sit in a traditional classroom setting every day to complete their degree from the comfort of their home. This format is perfect for working parents, members of the military, and those who travel a lot for work. My courses are uploaded and ready to watch online about an hour after the campus students have attended the class. I can set up web conferences or attend a live virtual office hour session to ask questions of the professors. The tablet computer given to me by the school is my lifeline to my degree, which automatically connects me to my school’s site. I can take the tablet anywhere with me.

The clinical components of the distance pathway have to be completed by the same time as the campus students so I still have to do my eight, 5-week clinical rotations during the summer in Missouri, where I live. In addition, the required community service component has to be done annually during the school semesters and must involve direct patient interaction to count. In June of each summer, I have to attend laboratory courses on the campus itself in Omaha, NE, where the school is located. We are provided with housing on campus to complete our
rigorous 10-day sessions to learn the same hands-on laboratory skills as the campus students.

Not for everyone

I should mention that I believe this method of getting a PharmD degree is much more intense and difficult than attending classes physically. It may sound luxurious, but it requires tremendous self-studying discipline and judicious time management. It is very easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the enormous amount of course work. It’s also easy to get distracted because you are at home and sometimes doing the laundry seems more exciting! Distance learning is not for everyone, and unless you are very motivated and focused, it can get very challenging and one can easily fall behind.

The one question that I get a lot from my friends is how I take my exams while sitting at home? Wouldn’t that be nice! I have to take my exams on the same day as the campus students by using Examity, which is an online proctor site. It is an amazing technology and someone put a lot of thought into it. So, as I say, I may be a distance student, but I have a lot of people watching and keeping tabs on me.

Creighton University is such a well-rounded school that it has gone to great lengths to provide campus and distance students with the exact same didactic part of a pharmacy program. It offers a variety of courses as part of the curriculum on how to handle stress, manage time, communicate with others as a professional, and deal with personal life at home to become a better student pharmacist at school. The university also connects each student, depending on which state they live in, to different opportunities to get involved in their community and to get to know their peers. For example, through Creighton, I got into the TL1 pre-doctorate research program at Washington University in St. Louis, where I was able to bring awareness to the problem of medication non-adherence in older adults.

Coming from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, which is also a Jesuit school, and being a Schweitzer Fellow, I have tremendous appreciation and great respect for Creighton having the same values by which I have followed throughout my educational path. Values such as community service and putting patients first are the main goals of the curriculum. I am so proud to be graduating from a school that has provided me with all the tools that I need to be a well-rounded pharmacist in all aspects of my life.

Being a single mom, I could have never imagined becoming a pharmacist if I didn’t have the option to stay at home. Creighton University has made that a dream come true for me.