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Written By

Katherine Kokkonen


College of Medicine and Dentistry

Publish Date

29 July 2019

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Find your passion and ask for advice

Making the leap from high school to university can be daunting. Set yourself up for success with JCU graduate Tom Clayton’s tips on how to make university your home away from home.

Tom’s work as a paediatric pharmacist at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in Brisbane keeps him on his toes. “One day you could be working with a child who has had a heart transplant, the next you can be working on specialist immunisation programs,” he says.

The JCU Bachelor of Pharmacy graduate has some tips for students to make the most of their time at university.

Before Tom finished high school, he had a hunch about what he wanted to study at university.

“I was interested in doing something to do with healthcare and helping people,” he says. “Pharmacists have an important role in both the community and the wider healthcare system. They are at the frontline.”

However, he wanted to make sure he was making the right decision so he asked for advice.

“You’re so young when you go to university straight from school that sometimes you don’t know what you really want to do,” Tom says. “My advice for high school students is to get as much experience in what you want to study before you go to university to study it. I went and spoke to a local pharmacist and got an idea about what the profession would be like.”

Find your place on the map

Having lived in regional Queensland, Tom knew firsthand the value of being part of a community.

After growing up in Yeppoon and studying at Rockhampton Grammar School, he wanted to continue being part of a community that is “one big family”. Studying in Townsville gave Tom the chance to meet and get to know other students from regional centres.

“There’s a different feel in a regional university and you all get to know each other,” he says. “I made some really good friends at uni. When you come from a rural or regional place, you tend to get on with people who also come from rural or regional places because you have similar interests and similar qualities.”

Two hospital pharmacists checking drug stocks
Glass jar containing a variety of pills

Surround yourself with support

When Tom moved to Townsville, he decided to live on-campus and loved the support and sense of camaraderie he experienced during the three years he was at The John Flynn College.

“Year 12 can be a lot of hard work and you can become a bit exhausted from it and then to go from that to uni can be a shock to the system,” he says. “At college, there is support in place and it’s easy to form friendship groups because you’re living together and some people are studying the same course.”

Make the most of opportunities

While studying, Tom completed a one-month placement in Vanuatu and had the chance to attend a conference sponsored by the World Health Organisation.

While in Vanuatu, he also worked for three weeks in the local hospital. Tom says his experiences at university, both in and out of the classroom, ensured he was ready to enter the workforce.

“There are smaller class numbers and the lecturers know your name,” he says. “Everyone cares for you and they want you to do really well.”

If you're keen to be at the frontline in healthcare, check out JCU Pharmacy. Check out the range of services available to make your whole university experience a happy and healthy one.

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Gain the skills and knowledge to be at the frontline of health care with JCU's Bachelor of Pharmacy