August 7, 2017

Welcome to UAMS: Welcome to Change

By Robert Musser, Ph.D.

Picture of the author, Dr. Bob MusserWelcome to UAMS, and specifically welcome to the College of Pharmacy. Soon enough you will learn the shortcut abbreviations: COP, PDA, Pharm for Pharmacology. You’ll know Rahn and I Dodd Wilson and Shorey as the names of buildings. You will be able to decipher office numbers like 3/118 in the library (my number; drop by sometime; I’m your contact in the Student Success Center). You’re in store for a lot of changes along the way. You’ll pick up new information, and you’ll also develop new ways of thinking and living in a new profession you are learning.

A Gateway to Change

Picture of the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis, Missouri13 years ago this summer I moved to central Arkansas from the Saint Louis area. That city skyline is easily recognizable with the soaring Gateway Arch on the western banks of the Mississippi River. That arch signals the passageway to great change for so many people in the history of our country. You are walking now through a sort of doorway into your own new frontier with changes in your circumstances, changes for your loved ones, changes for those whom you will assist as a pharmacist. Change can be unnerving. Change can call forth nervy excitement. Certain it is that change is inevitable.

Managing Change Well

Know that the change is coming; that recognition is the first important step in managing well. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and other counsellors suggest some additional strategies:

  1. Do change when change is required. Some of us approach our lives in over-simplified, tried-and-true, usual procedures. You will do well to know early on that this academic experience is not the same as undergraduate study. You will be required to know much more information, and you will be required to practice more sophisticated kinds of reasoning and problem-solving. You will need to make the necessary changes. By the way, we can help with some of that.
  2. Do not change what does not matter or is inevitable. The world, you and I, your fellow-students, and your professors, for instance, are imperfect. We will be forever frustrated and ultimately defeated if we try to turn this existence into a utopian perfection. As a friend of mine said, “Aim for perfection. Settle for excellence.”
  3. Put into effect the kind of change needed. Some changes are simply at the level of detail. For example, you will be required to memorize a considerable amount of information about various drugs. To learn more information like this is a first-order change, more of the same. Some changes are second-order changes. You will likely be learning about new approaches to medicating, new ways of delivering medications and so forth. These second-order changes involve not merely more of the same, but shifts in the framework and the basic structure. So it’s important to make first-order changes when more of the same is needed, and we should change the whole framework when that is needed. Of course, wisdom lies in knowing which level of change is required when. Again, maybe we can help with that.

Once again, welcome to the training program here. As you change for the better, we’d like to help you succeed in this new life . We wish you all the best and look forward for you and with you to a good journey.

Dr. Bob Musser
Student Learning Specialist
College of Pharmacy
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences