Student Perspective: A Unique Perspective – what major is right for you?

A blog post from J. Carrington, Class of 2016.

Many prospective students want to know what they should study in their undergraduate course work to prepare for pharmacy school. You may be wondering, “Will my future pharmacy school only consider me if I was a biology or chemistry major? Do I have to declare “Pre-Pharmacy”? Should I even get a bachelors degree?”

Here is my story and humble opinion on the matter.

As a senior in high school thinking about my future career in pharmacy, the first step was deciding what I want my major to be. I was a 4-H agriculture program kid, horse enthusiast and knew I was going to Virginia Tech – a wonderful university with a great agriculture school in Virginia.

Upon my acceptance to Virginia Tech, I considered pharmacy as a career path due to my love of science and desire to help people. The conflict was what to study. My dream major was Animal and Poultry Science, a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Science that focused in animal production and science. I was sold on this major ever since going to Virginia Tech for youth horse judging and 4-H events.

Upon evaluating the Animal and Poultry Science curriculum further, I saw that the course work required for this degree matched very well to what is expected for pharmacy school. It also had courses focusing on practical hands-on skills and the opportunity for research projects. I customized my curriculum to be great balance of my passion for agriculture and rigorous science based classes. I took the normal Organic Chemistry and biochemistry, but I also got to take Animal Breeding and Genetics, Physiology of Reproduction and Embryology. I also got to take fun classes like Livestock Marketing along with Equine Biomechanics and Horse Production. All of these classes together gave me a unique perspective and was a great conversation starter at interviews.

Most majors will cover the core requirements needed for acceptance in pharmacy school and are flexible enough to allow you to take extra courses that may be needed like Organic Chemistry or Human Anatomy and Physiology. I loved every minute at Virginia Tech and truly got to study something that I love. The background and unique perspective I gained as an Animal Science student helped me in pharmacy school.

The number one goal: Study something you love! Don’t worry if it isn’t biochemistry or medical science. If you enjoy it do it! I have many classmates with degrees in Art, History, and even foreign languages. They are all in pharmacy school and successful in the rigorous coursework. My advice is to enjoy your undergraduate experience regardless of what you study or if you get a degree. The memories you make in your undergraduate career last a lifetime. Get a good science foundation but don’t forget to take something completely different because you never know the experiences it will give you!

Connect with us in October

We’ve got a lot of recruitment events coming up this month, and we hope to see you at some of them!

We’re hosting an Open House in Asheville on Monday, October 12 at 5:30pm. The following day, we’re hosting an Open House in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, October 13 at 5:30pm. You’ll learn about the admissions process, hear from a faculty member about the pharmacy profession, and meet with current students who will discuss our PharmD program. It’s a great opportunity to visit the school and learn more about pharmacy!

We will also be participating in the AACP Virtual Fair and Chat. It’s free for you to join and chat with us. We’ll have admissions folks and current students there to answer your questions from 10am-4pm  EST both October 21 and 22. Log on and say hi!

If you can’t make an Open House, we also offer Pharmacy Fridays, which are shorter sessions with an admissions representative and current students. Learn more about admissions, our program, and take a tour of the school. We have Pharmacy Fridays coming up in October and November in Asheville and Chapel Hill.

Sign up for any of our events here.

Student Perspective: My real-life application…

A blog post from Zafeira Sarrimanolis, Class of 2016.

Last weekend, I went to visit my grandmother and her huge greyhound, Victor.  After I told her a little about school, my life and gossiping about the rest of the family, she began telling me some stories – her favorite thing to do. She told me about how Victor had knocked over her favorite flower pot and broken it into a million pieces, how her grumpy neighbor had left an angry note in her mail box because a jug from her recycling bin had blown into his front yard, all about her favorite soap opera and about how dry and red her hands had been lately.  While all of her stories were interesting to me, she really caught my attention when she mentioned the skin condition of her hands. I immediately put on my lab coat, figuratively of course, and started asking her some questions.

My grandmother told me that she had not been using any new lotions or hand soaps lately, hadn’t worn any new gloves or mittens and hadn’t been doing any intense cleaning of her shower or kitchen with bleach. I’ll admit, I was a little stumped and kept looking at how dry, red and irritated her hands appeared.  My grandmother, of course, brushed it off saying everything was fine and brought me a piece of chocolate cake. While eating way too much, I remembered how much my grandmother loves to cook and bake.  Then, mid-bite, a light bulb went off and I started asking her about dish soaps she used when cooking and baking, because my grandmother HATES to use the dishwasher. She told me all about a new purple dish soap she had gotten about a week earlier in her favorite scent, and that she had been using it multiple times a day everyday. I nicely told her that this wonderful dish soap might, unfortunately, be to blame for the skin irritation she had recently been experiencing.  I advised her to stop using the new soap for a week and see if her hands got better or to use rubber gloves when cleaning dishes to avoid direct skin contact with the soap. I took her to the CVS up the street and helped her pick out a Eucerin Cream product that she would use a few times a day to help soothe her hands.

My grandmother was so thankful for the help and advice I was able to offer and promised to follow my recommendations, she even sent me home with another piece of chocolate cake!  While I have applied what I have studied in school at health fairs and blood pressure screenings through CAPS and other school organizations, this was the first time I had done so all by myself in an unorganized setting.  In this case, my grandmother was the patient who had a condition that she didn’t know the cause of and didn’t know how to treat.  I, as a pharmacy student and her granddaughter, was able to offer advice to help treat her condition and come up with a solution that would make her hands feel better and still allow her to do things she loved, like cooking and baking. This made me further appreciate what learn in school and also made me realize how important it is that I can actually apply something I have learned to a real life situation that helped a patient, in this case my very own grandmother!

October 1st

Our Priority Consideration deadline is coming up next week. To be considered for the Priority Consideration, you will need to submit both your PharmCAS application and your supplemental application by October 1st. Please remember that after you submit your PharmCAS application, it can take several weeks for PharmCAS to verify your application and release it to our School. Even if you can’t submit the supplemental application by October 1st, I recommend submitting the PharmCAS application by that date. We have a rolling admissions process, so the earlier you can submit your applications, the earlier we can review your application and invite you for an interview. We will be sending out our first batch of interview invites in mid-October. Plan accordingly, and apply early!

Student Perspective: Volunteering with SHAC Beyond Clinic Walls

A blog post from Yue Dong, Class of 2018.

As a first year pharmacy student, I have learned so many things this year, from how to take medication history for a patient, how to take blood pressure and blood glucose, and how drug metabolism works to everything in-between. Although we always have a pretty load of course work for us, one of the things I really enjoyed this year was using these skills I have learned and applying it through volunteer clinics and events such as SHAC (Student Health Action Clinic).

One organization I really enjoyed working with was the SHAC Beyond Clinic Walls program. Through this program, I worked with a team of occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology students from UNC to assist our client Bill in any health related or social needs. Our team met up with him once a month to help with any medical or social concern he had. I really enjoyed working with my team and our client as most of our meetings turned into story times and him asking us about our lives and how school was going. Even though we were there to assist Bill, he was genuinely interested in what we had to say and he wanted to be informed of how our different disciplines worked. For instance, I spent about half an hour during one meeting to explain the role of a Clinical Pharmacist Practitioner and explaining different fields of a pharmacy career.

By the end of the semester, we helped Bill with improving his social needs at his retirement community by helping set up a story telling time. Although our work with Bill was not completely medically related at times, understanding the needs of a patient to outside the scope of medication really helped me understand sympathy and improve relationship skills especially while working with my interdisciplinary team. Volunteering, through SHAC, IFC clinic, or any other organization, really helped me as a student pharmacist understand that it is our goal to help those in need and truly understand their concerns to improve their quality of life. I strongly recommend volunteering as a student pharmacist not only to implement the skills we learn in school but for the satisfaction in being able to help a patient.

Curriculum 2015

Have you had a chance to explore our curriculum? We just launched a new curriculum this fall. Head over to our website to learn about the changes we’re making, and how we’re innovating pharmacy education.

Some highlights:

-Early, continual immersion in patient care
-Higher level critical thinking, reflection, and problem solving development
-More hands-on pharmacy innovation and real-world problem solving
-Flipped classroom and active learning

Explore our website to learn more!

Student Perspective: A Family in Pharmacy School

A blog post from Stephanie Barquero, Class of 2016.

As a pharmacy school student at UNC, there are so many different organizations to be involved in – all of which promote building social and professional ties with your classmates. For me, one particular organization that is close to my heart is Kappa Psi, one of the co-ed professional pharmacy fraternities at UNCESOP. I went to UNC as an undergrad and pledged Kappa Psi in the Spring of my freshman year. Now, going into my fourth year as a brother, I can’t believe how the time has flown and all the memories I’ve made with such a special group of people.


As a professional fraternity Kappa Psi is involved with many professional events at the pharmacy school but also community service in Chapel Hill and the surrounding area. In addition we have social events at our house (which is about a mile from campus) such as dinner, our semi formal in the fall, and many others, some of which are through collaboration with the other co-ed fraternity at the school – Phi Delta Chi. We also have tons of leadership opportunities giving everyone the chance to go above and beyond to serve the fraternity. Each one of the things we do has given me memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Kappa Psi is a family for me. I know I can count on my brothers for anything I need and their support will carry me through the rest of my time in school and as an alumnus.


While going through your education, I urge you to find an organization similar to what Kappa Psi means to me. I personally believe being a part of a group such as this only enhances your college experience and is an invaluable part of shaping who you will be in the future.


Have you already taken the PCAT? If you’re applying for Fall 2016 entry, the latest you can take the PCAT for the first time is November 2015.

You can register for the PCAT here. There’s also great information on that website regarding what is included on the exam, and sample tests and questions.

The PCAT is just one factor we review in the Admissions process to determine your academic preparedness. Last year, the average PCAT composite score for accepted students in our program was 88%. We recommend that students score at least a 70% on the composite score to be competitive.

Asheville Student Perspective: Beyond Clinic Walls – Asheville

A blog post from Stephen Canady, Class of 2017.

On the Asheville Campus, interprofessional learning is a big component of our extracurricular activities. We volunteer at a local medical clinic, at an Interprofessional Team Medical Clinic Night, and Beyond Clinic Walls-Asheville (BCW-Asheville).  BCW-Asheville is a new program on the Asheville Campus this school year. BCW-Asheville is a service learning and community-service engagement experienced formed on the foundational model of UNC’s Beyond Clinic Wall program. BCW-Asheville aims to serve MAHEC patients who have complex medical and/or social needs. BCW-Asheville helps their client to understand their often complicated health needs and to maintain contact with their health care providers.  Student volunteers from UNC School of Medicine Asheville, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy – Asheville Campus, Western Carolina University School of Nursing, and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Nursing program collaborate in interdisciplinary teams that partner with their clients for an academic year.

As a student leader of BCW-Asheville, I hope that our student volunteers learn to develop a holistic view of their client and help identify and correct any healthcare barrier(s) for their client.  I also hope students assist their client with accessing other community resources within the Asheville region. Every healthcare profession has a distinct role on the healthcare team. As a student pharmacist, volunteering in diverse interprofessional learning environments, I have learned some invaluable lessons that only come from working on an interprofessional healthcare team and experienced the tremendous benefit of pooled knowledge from diverse academic perspectives. Nonetheless, the most critical key point that I have learned is the importance of effective communication and developing relationships with other healthcare professionals to develop a positive medical learning environment where the patient truly becomes our top priority.