Student Perspective: Student Organizations

A blog post from Emily George, Class of 2016.

Some of the more rewarding experiences I have had as a student pharmacist have been outside of the pharmacy school and organizations specific to pharmacy students. Working and volunteering among other professionals in varying disciplines offers a unique perspective to our place as pharmacists in the ever-changing healthcare arena. It has been validating to shadow pharmacists excelling in their niche. Specifically, when rounding at the hospital as a volunteer or just to shadow, it is obvious that pharmacy is viewed with high regard, as doses are verified, lab results are analyzed, interactions are noted and therapeutic changes are made. At times, you wonder how you will ever learn – and remember! – all of those values and interactions, but it has become a personal challenge to meet and exceed the reputation pharmacy holds at UNC.

Additionally, I have been able to take another step back from pharmacy school and the pharmacy department and develop in a role as a healthcare counselor. Specifically, I volunteer for an interdisciplinary student-run organization, SHAC-HIV. In doing so, I gain invaluable experience talking with patients about difficult and not-so-difficult subjects. Rather than thinking about blood pressure and proper dosing regimens, I am able to shift focus more on empathy and emotion, while still teaching, listening and providing a service. This dynamic is important to develop and foster to complement more clinical and textbook knowledge. Again, it provides insight into the overall impact healthcare providers can have on the general public. Figuring out how I can fit into my own role in the future and best employ my knowledge and experience excites me. I would encourage student pharmacists to find what drives them, what their end goal really is, and work to build and develop a strong foundation for whatever it may be during the years in the classroom.

How to prepare for Candidates’ Day – Part 1

Getting ready for your interview? Here are some tips to consider in the weeks leading up to your interview.

1. Familiarize yourself with the Multiple Mini Interview process
We use the Multiple Mini Interview process (MMI). The MMI is a series of 7 interview stations consisting of timed (eight-minute) interview scenarios. Applicants rotate through the stations, each with its own interviewer and scenario, over the course of an hour. The MMI will not test prior knowledge, but will assess characteristics and attributes which the Admissions Committee feel are important for success as a pharmacist. The MMI is different from a traditional or job interview. Search for MMI online to see videos of the interview process, and find sample questions.

2. Mock Interview
The best way to prepare for any interview is to practice interviewing. Grab a friend or family member to help, or see if any of your clubs/organizations or Career Counseling Center offer them. Interviews can be stressful, but if you go through a mock interview, you’ll be able to practice the tough questions and get some of your nerves out of the way.

3. Research the School
Make sure you’ve spent some time on the School website, and are familiar with the program. While we might be interviewing you at Candidates’ Day, it’s also an opportunity for you to decide if our School is the right fit for you. While you’re researching the School…

4. Prepare some questions
Write down your questions and bring them along to Candidates’ Day. You will have plenty of opportunities to ask current students, faculty, and staff any questions you might have.

5. Practice your elevator pitch
If you have 20 seconds to give an introduction, what would you say? What makes you unique as an applicant? You’ll be meeting lots of people on Candidates’ Day, so you want to make sure you make a positive impression.

Next week, I’ll share more tips to consider as you prepare for Candidates’ Day.


Student Perspective: OSCE

A blog post from Carrie Martin, Class of 2016.

Today, I had my first Objectively Structured Clinical Examination, otherwise known as OSCE. This is a comprehensive assessment of skills learned throughout the fall. This semester we focused on dermatology, diabetes, women’s health, and pulmonary, which coincided with our pharmacotherapy class topics. The OSCE is conducted by standardized patients who act out five different cases, as they would be presented to you in the pharmacy. We were given nine minutes to counsel on many different drugs and special application techniques. After the time was up, the standardized patients were able to give you specific feedback. Students are evaluated on their clinical skill/knowledge and their relationship and communication skills. While the class was somewhat nervous not knowing what to expect, everyone really enjoyed the “real-life” simulated experience. The OSCE was a great opportunity to gain confidence in my clinical knowledge and to reinforce my communication skills. Practice makes perfect!

What to expect at Candidates’ Day

You’ve been offered a chance to interview – congrats! Now what can you expect?

Candidates’ Day will be a chance for you to learn more about the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, as we learn more about you. You’ll get to meet current PharmD students, faculty, and staff, and learn more about our program and School. You’ll hear about our curriculum and academic experience, learn more about our Office of Student Affairs, take a tour of the school, have lunch with current students, and hear first hand from students and faculty what opportunities are available at the School.

You’ll also get a chance to participate in a Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). Never participated in an MMI before? It’s an interview method that was developed in Canada and is popular in medical school admissions. You’ll participate in seven different interviews with seven different interviewers, each lasting six minutes. The questions will be thought-provoking, but won’t require previous scientific knowledge. You’ll be challenged to think quickly on your feet, formulate an argument, and articulate your argument effectively to the interviewer. If you do poorly on one interview, you still have six more chances to make a first impression! The MMI will assess certain non-cognitive attributes that the Admissions Committee feels are important to success in pharmacy school and beyond.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about how to prepare for Candidates’ Day!

Student Perspective: Comfortable Wearing the White Coat

A blog post from Rashmi Patel, Class of 2016.

It felt like it was just yesterday when I was a sophomore in college volunteering as a student at the Kerr Drug booth at the NC State Fair. It was the first time I had really sought out a volunteer opportunity related to pharmacy so I still wasn’t exactly sure of all the things that a pharmacist was capable of. I just remember being in awe of the young pharmacist I was working with in her crispy white UNC coat, thinking to myself of what I had to do to get there. I would have never guessed that four years later, I would soon be the girl behind the table introducing myself to patients as a second year pharmacy student at UNC. The funny thing is, I had just as many questions as a pharmacy student two days ago, as I did four years ago.

I realize now that just because the years go by and you get older, you may be getting a little wiser, but you will never know all the answers. Even though I had been certified to give immunizations didn’t mean that I was an expert at it. I still made a few mistakes and had instances when my vaccine dripped out of the syringe instead of being injected into the person or frantically tried to get the sticky band-aid off of my oversized gloves and onto the person. My time volunteering at the NC State Fair giving flu shots really helped me be more comfortable wearing the white coat and not just making mistakes, but owning up to them and fixing them.

At the end of my shift, I had vaccinated 29 people and actually felt like I was growing as a professional in pharmacy and giving back to my community. It felt great having people say, ‘she’s really good!’ or patting my back and thanking me when really I should be thanking them for letting me poke them with a needle! I thought back at the time when I thought pharmacists just drank coffee and counted by 5’s… I obviously didn’t know anything! Pharmacists are the friendly neighbors in the community where they are trusted by so many everyday; and every year people come back to the fair specifically to get their flu shots from us.

International Students

Recently, we’ve had quite a few students contact us to ask if they can still apply to the PharmD program even though they’re international students. The answer is: Yes!

We do not review international students any differently in the admissions process, but there are a few things that you will need to provide with your application. First, you will need to have your foreign transcripts evaluated by a foreign transcript evaluation service. We prefer WES, but you can find a complete list of services here. You can find more details about determining prerequisite coursework equivalencies here.

In regards to financial aid, students who hold a United States Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or a green card, as it is also known) can be considered for need-based federal and institutional funds. All other international students are required by law to certify at the time of admission that they can pay for their education.

International students will need to fill out the Financial Certificate document upon admission to the PharmD program. We will provide you with that document in your admission packet. You can find more information about that form here.

PharmCAS has several FAQ regarding your PharmCAS application, so I recommend you review those questions here before applying.

Student Perspective: Joining a Professional Pharmacy Fraternity

A blog post from Marie Waddles, Class of 2016.

During my first semester of pharmacy school, I decided to rush a professional pharmacy fraternity, Phi Delta Chi (PDC). PDC appealed to me because it is the only co-ed professional pharmacy school available at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. As a new student at a new school, I felt that is was important to find a way to connect to the school and find a group of like-minded individuals to associate myself with.

Phi Delta Chi affords its members the opportunity to hold many different leadership positions. During my second year of school, I had the honor of being a member of the Executive Board of PDC. The position I held was Worthy Master at Arms (WMA). I was responsible for recruitment and new Brother education. During my time as WMA, I was able to develop many different skills, including time management, communication and problem solving. I can honestly say that my time spent as WMA was one of the most fulfilling things I have done while in pharmacy school. In addition to leadership opportunities, PDC allowed me to interact with students from different graduating classes. This was especially important to me because students in the preceding graduation classes offer valuable information about professors, classes and organizations.

I highly recommend considering Phi Delta Chi if you decide to attend UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. The school offers a wide variety of organizations to choose from so even if Phi Delta Chi doesn’t sound right for you, please find some way to become involved with a student organization so that you can leave your mark on our great school!

Interview Season

You might have seen on our website that we begin inviting students for interviews in mid-October. Since we’re one week into October now, I just wanted to update y’all that we will be mailing invitations in the next few weeks. We have been reviewing applications non-stop these past few weeks, in preparation for our upcoming Candidates’ Days – our first is just over a month away! FYI-we call our interview days Candidates’ Days. This year we will hold Candidates’ Days in November, December, and February.

I’ll be providing more updates on what to expect at Candidates’ Day and how to prepare for Candidates’ Day in coming blog posts. Stay tuned!