Back to School


For many, it is time for back to school.  Maybe you yourself are not going back to school, but you have children who are going back to school.  How are you going to make this year different from previous years?  How are you going to help your children succeed?  Or do you take the point of view that educating your children is the responsibility of the school and the teachers at the school and you don’t want to interfere least you might undermine some of the things they are teaching?

This is the first year after 18 years of sending off our daughter to school that we do not have to think about these questions.  She graduated with a Ph.D. in Pharmacy this past Memorial Day weekend.  Even better, she has a job working as a resident at a local clinic.  Just like medical doctors, pharmacists who want to work in hospitals must do a one year residency before they can get a full-time job in a hospital.  The good thing is that the residency does not have to be in the same hospital that they eventually want to work in.  It can be anywhere.  Of course, many wind up staying where they serve their residency.

Thinking back on last week’s discussion about certifications, I am reminded that even to work as a resident, she had to pass both a national and stage pharmacy exam to show basic competency.  However, it does not end there.  She will be required to continue to get continuing education credits for the rest of her life.  Well, I heard that after 50 years of being a pharmacist, they do relax that requirement.  However, the point is the requirement to keep learning because the pharmacy industry, like the computer industry is in a constant state of change and what you knew at the time of your initial certification test will soon be out of date as new drugs replace old drugs and therapy options keep advancing.

Getting back to the topic of going back to school, have you thought about taking time to learn something new yourself this year?  As your kids go back to school, it may be a good time to show a good example by picking something you want to know more about and either registering for a class at a local college or at least going out to your favorite bookstore and picking up one or two books on a topic that you want to know more about.  It could be work related or it could be just a personal area of interest.  The challenge is to find something that you want to learn more about.

After you have picked a subject area that you want to study, you need to develop a plan of action.  Perhaps you want to cover a chapter a week or perhaps you want an even finer level of motivation and set a goal of x pages a day.  The specific goal does not matter.  Having a goal and following through with it on a regular basis will show your kids how to apply discipline in their own studies.

If there is a certification for the area of study you have chosen, plan to go take the test.  Even if the certification does not matter to your current work, it is a way to show to your kids that your study efforts were really serious and had a goal in mind.  Then should that certification help you achieve a better position with your current employer or perhaps help you get a better job with more money, benefits or just something you enjoy more, you are still showing a valuable lesson to your kids that study and learning new things can be rewarding.

This year Microsoft is making it easy for you to pick from a variety of new/updated software that you can choose to study and become expert in.  You can choose from operating systems to PowerShell to Microsoft Office 2013 to SharePoint 2013 to SQL Server 2012 and more.  Some of these technologies don’t have books available yet. However, they have many websites available with information including many whitepapers and videos on Microsoft’s site to get you started until the books become available.  As you dive into your studies, consider creating a blog post occasionally to talk about one or two things that you learned and try to explain to others how they can use what you learned.  WordPress.com, where this site is hosted, offers free blog sites to anyone.  It is also a way to improve your communication skills and if you do start looking for a new position, you can always point potential employers to your site to show what you know rather than merely point to a certification that says you crammed a bunch of knowledge into your head long enough to take a test.

Think about that until next time.  C’ya.

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