Monday, June 1, 2009

How is EXTEMPO spelt? It's F-A-I-L-E-D of course!

Sem 4 came and suddenly we're smack right in the middle of it. Apart from dealing with the increasingly dull and boring lectures we have to endure day after day, there hasn't been much activity. Well, there was the seniors leaving for their hols and preparation for going off to Glasgow. In a way, I envy them. I want to go there too, but I suppose I'll have to pass Sem 4 first. That is IF I pass. And that brings me to my next point: Passing Sem 4: The woes and doubt.

Let me first iterate that Sem 4 is incredibly different from the previous semesters we have had. Those were more knowledge based, things like Biopharmacy, Physiology, Microbiology and Pharmacology. I'm not trying to say that there are no knowledge based subjects this semester, but they are interspersed with judgemental and ethical subjects, like Pharmacy Practice and Health Promotion. And were they dull! I'd rather endure beds of nails than hearing unending lectures regarding the proper way of handling medication, patient care and all that jazz. Technically the only saving grace of PP was the extemporaneous practicals. We learned how to pack powders, make suspensions, solutions, creams and ointments. But for every light side of things, there is a more malicious darker side lurking, waiting to pounce on unwary people. And yep, we were unwary. Very unwary in fact.

You see, there was a heavy price to pay for enjoyment of making stuff (not that I liked the practical sessions that much anyway). The price is: Extempo class test! It's 5% of the PP module and we have two hours to complete two products. After the mock exam we had, we were quite confident of being able to emulate what we did and escape relatively unscathed from the field of battle. Boy were we wrong! Everything that could go wrong did, and I'll bet no amount of time in this world can save us. Okay, to be fair in the mock exams we were given two and a half hours to complete two products so we had more time. BUT! That wasn't the point. Well, technically it was part of it actually. There were a few factors which caused our current predicament. For ease of reading I'll list it down:

1. Time, as previously stated.
2. Products to be made: We were given simple formulations and easy products (powders and suspensions in the mock versus powders and ointments)
3. The calculation!: The previous powders didn't require elaborate calculations but the class test did!
4. Lack of apparatus: We were given 1! weighing boat, and that was ridiculous in and of itself.

And I know there are many more. But suffice to say I was traumatised by the examiner coming over, scrutinising every little thing I did and deducting marks like it was going out of fashion. Anyway, there you have it. In the end, I handed up and empty sheet, labels hastily written (I bet doctors have better handwriting than I had that day) and failed products (ointments with specks of zinc oxide particles in them). Oh yes did I mention that I wrote 'cream' in the label instead of 'ointment'? Yep, it was that bad.

Still, I bet we'll one day look back on all of this and laugh it off, like we do with everything bad that's happened to us. But at the moment, I'm bipolar :D

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