Written by Tiana Tran
As a new pharmacist who graduated in 2022, I experienced pharmacy school and am now experiencing a residency as someone who was born in Generation Z. Generation Z includes everyone born from 1997 to 2012. We are the most ethnically and racially diverse generation, as well as the largest, making up about 27% of the US population. Generation Z has been touted as having a shorter attention span, being dependent on technology, and overall being a challenge to educators, among other things. However, it is important to understand that Generation Z was born during an era of change and progress. There may be some challenges that come with Generation Z, but these are challenges that will spur on change and innovation to the overall career of pharmacy. What is important is that we understand and wield the strengths of this generation.
For Generation Z, communication is widespread and abundant. With the use of social media, keeping in touch with a variety of communities and networks is instant and easy. This is something no other generation has had throughout their childhood. However, the challenge this comes with is the potential lack of face-to-face communication skills, especially for those born later in Gen Z and that grew up during the COVID pandemic. To adapt to this, it is important to offer chances for Gen Z to learn and grow - during class and IPPE/APPE rotations, students have chances to improve their communication skills as long as they are given early feedback. On the other hand, our strengths in digital communication can lend itself to the pharmacy world. We can connect to the local community much faster by utilizing social media, posting and spreading news with valuable information, and taking advantage of the technology. The network available today is incomparable to any past generation - capitalizing on Gen Z’s expertise in communication when it comes to projects, outreach, and more, will help expand pharmacy’s reach in the community.
Gen Z grew up with an abundance of information at our fingertips. Instant learning is available with a Google search, a YouTube video, or podcasts. We are skilled at finding exactly what we need in a short amount of time. This does come with a short attention span, as we are accustomed to obtaining information instantaneously. This can make lecturing harder as Gen Z students may find it difficult to pay attention. To adapt, teaching students how to use the right resources to find answers and spot misinformation, is important to emphasize early on. During class, it’s important to refer back to the applicability and usefulness of the information. Gen Z learns best when we have information readily available - we like infographics, visuals, tables and charts that can communicate a lot of information in a compact format. Furthermore, we can use our quick learning skills in practice - as APPE students, we are capable of answering follow-up questions with the appropriate sources. We are brimming with the ability to find new information and apply it as soon as possible. We are a generation that has the ability to absorb an abundance of information, pull out the pearls and relevant pieces, and apply it to several situations.
All in all, Gen Z has an overall drive to progress - we are the first generation of digital natives and so we have grown alongside the evolution of technology. We are extensively connected to one another. We have the potential to learn as well as teach information to all generations in innovative and creative ways. As a result, we can help drive the future and expand the practice of pharmacy - especially if we work together and learn from other generations as well.