During my time at university, I have been very lucky and had the opportunity to travel in the summer holidays. In my second year I volunteered in Faridabad, India. It was a place far from the tourist areas of Agra and Jaipur and the conditions were very similar to those seen in Slumdog Millionaire.
My primary role whilst there was to assist in an orphanage funded by the travel abroad program. I helped the children with homework, walked them to school and played games with them. I was also able to teach English at a slum school nearby which truly opened my eyes to the poverty in other parts of the world - the school was tiny and held around a hundred children in dark, hot and cramped conditions. I was also able to assist at a medical camp in a neighbouring slum. This involved the team taking medical histories, blood pressures and giving out free medications (mostly paracetamol to be honest). This experience was so interesting and challenging - I would definitely recommend volunteering but perhaps not in monsoon season!
Medical Summer School in Egypt
This past summer, I signed up for a medical summer school in Egypt. The course was aimed at medical students but there were many pharmacy students there too. I can say without a doubt that it was the best three weeks of my life. Not only had the summer school organisers booked our time up with countless activities; we visited three hospitals and were able to examine patients, palpate their livers and look for signs of tropical diseases. I wholeheartedly recommend this to any student, and if they are interested they should visit the SCMSA website.
In my second year, I studied British Sign Language at Bradford College. It seems random but I always wanted to learn this skill and found the course interesting and well organised. In interviews for pre-registration places and summer placements I have been able to bring this up in conversation and found it a good talking point.
There are so many places the MPharm degree can take you and I have wanted to explore different career paths available to me. I spent three days in a prison pharmacy in Wakefield, where I saw how it compared to hospital and community pharmacy. The biggest difference is the number of locked doors and keys there are. But also, what was interesting was the problem of tradable medicines - drugs which in community would not be seen as a problem e.g. gabapentin, were regularly sold between inmates and as a result had rules placed on them such as 'not in possession' of the prisoner.
Bradford Association of Pharmacy Students (BAPS)
I am the I.T. Officer for BAPS (Bradford Association of Pharmacy Students) which has allowed me to meet students from all years, help organise events such as bowling, curry nights, henna and tea parties and much more. I have edited the BAPS newsletter, which included an interview with one of the Teacher Practitioners, and kept the BAPS social media pages up-to-date. I would say to all students that the more extra-curricular activities you do, the more you can demonstrate to future employers what an interesting person you are and in today's competitive job market you'll need to stand out from the crowd. Also you are only at university once (usually) so take all opportunities while you can!