Shefali Parekh is a fourth-year student at Monash University and the 2016/17 president of the National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association. She answers our questions:
Q | Where did you grow up and what school did you go to?
A | I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand, completing both primary and secondary school there. I went to Epsom Normal Primary School and Diocesan School for Girls.
Q | What university are you at and what year are you in?
A | I am in the fourth year of my Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) degree at Monash University in Melbourne.
Q | What inspired you to choose pharmacy as a career?
A | My love for biology and chemistry, my passion for helping others and desire to make a positive difference to the community’s health and wellbeing, and the positive influence of my aunt who’s a pharmacist.
Q | What do you like about your studies?
A | I like learning about the effect drugs have on the body and then applying this knowledge to a real-life situation, and seeing first-hand
how drugs can be used to manage or treat disease. I like the hands-on nature of the learning. I particularly like being at Monash, which is a close-knit campus.
Q | What don’t you like about your studies?
A | There’s so much to study!
Q | What are your hopes and dreams about being pharmacist?
A | After the completion of my Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, I hope to work in developmental aid as a pharmacist to make a difference in the developing world. I want to use my pharmacy skills and knowledge to educate disadvantaged communities because I strongly believe that everyone has the right to access healthcare.
Q | What are the biggest challenges for pharmacy students?
A | NAPSA surveys their members every year and, consistently, the oversupply of pharmacists and poor salaries have been described as the biggest challenges for pharmacy students. Oversupply of pharmacists in metropolitan areas (where most students would prefer to work) means students need to know how to stand out from the crowd and perform at their best in interviews.
Q | What are the biggest challenges for young graduates?
A | Lack of career advancement and struggle for identity in healthcare provision. These are some of the major reasons why many young graduates leave the profession. Young graduates remain distressed over the perceived lack of opportunities within the pharmacy profession. The challenge is finding a job that is enjoyable yet challenging. We don’t study for four years just to stand behind the counter dispensing. NAPSA believes it is critical for young graduates to aspire for greater progression within a career which is so very versatile.
Q | What’s your message to anyone thinking of studying pharmacy?
A | It’s not all about good grades. It’s mostly about networking and gaining experience. If you drown yourself in textbooks all day, you won’t feel passionate about it. Passion in pharmacy is really important and is what makes you stand out from the rest because then you’ll go out of your way to think outside the box and do innovative things to help people..