Nicole Hunter talks about 1st year

A day in the life

Nicole Hunter talks about 1st year


The skills lab is very practical. It’s a chance for students to engage in different scenarios they could experience in pharmacy practice. This allows you to get first-hand experience with challenging situations.

A good fit

With bachelor and master’s degrees in chemistry, Nicole Hunter held several jobs in research and teaching. She decided to apply to Dalhousie’s College of Pharmacy, as she felt it would be a good fit for her. “I enjoy science, research, and teaching,” she says. “A career in pharmacy encompasses my areas of interest.”

A typical day for Nicole includes lecture, problem-based learning, and personal development through skills lab and community experience. “The majority of our time is spent doing problem-based leaning, or PBL,” Nicole says, explaining that PBL involves group work with other students. “We apply what we’ve learned in class to a case study.”  

She believes the PBL curriculum encourages students to use critical-thinking skills and to solve problems through self-directed research. “I enjoy this approach and I feel like I get a lot out of it. PBL solidifies concepts through group discussion and is a good way to develop interpersonal skills,” she says, adding that as students discuss cases, each student in the group takes on a different role, such as ‘facilitator’ or ‘skeptic.’

Nicole explains the role of the skeptic: “During discussions, the skeptic will question, ‘Can we prove this? Could it also be this?’ to ensure everyone looks at all options and avoids group-think.”

Building a foundation  

The skills lab allows students to develop foundational skills required for practice as a “registered pharmacy student.” It also exposes students to the range of careers within pharmacy and health care, which is supported by various guest lecture presentations. “It’s interesting to get different perspectives and to discover the various avenues you could take, whether it’s compounding in a community pharmacy, or working in the clinical hospital setting,” she says.

Nicole has also participated in the Health Mentor program as a group with three other students in different health professions programs. “We meet with our health mentor, who has a chronic health condition, to learn about his or her life. It gives us an opportunity to explore patient-centered care – instead of treating the disease, you’re treating the patient,” Nicole says. “It’s also showing you how to work as a member of a collaborative team.”

Nicole is currently involved with the Dalhousie Student Pharmacy Society (DSPS) as the first-year representative for the Canadian Association of Pharmacy Students and is helping to plan for an upcoming conference. In addition, she’s gaining experience by working in community and clinical pharmacy settings. “There are many great opportunities for students in all years to get involved through the DSPS, and initiatives in the college and community.”