Meet the Ambassador – Justin Harrison

Meet Justin! He got interested in pharmacy through his undergrad chemistry classes, believes finding balance in pharmacy school can be challenging, and loves cookie dough!

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Justin Harrison, Class of 2018, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Apex, NC
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree, UNC Wilmington


If they made a movie of your life, which actor would you cast to play you?
Will Farrell- I love humor

If you could have an endless supply of any one type of food, what would you choose?
Cookie dough- not even the cookies.

If you won a lottery ticket for $100 million dollars, what would you do with it?
Finish pharmacy school. Pay off debts. Buy each one of my immediate family members and best friends a house. Move to somewhere in the Caribbean and open a pharmacy there.

If you had one extra hour each day, how would you use it?
To play soccer. I really miss being able to play this sport and wish I had time to play more often during the school year.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I did an undergrad degree in chemistry and was very interested in how molecules can affect everything. Beforehand I saw medication as just a drug, not molecule(s) that may alter something to correct. I have always had an interest in the medical fields, but understanding chemistry better really lead me to be most interested in pharmacy.

What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
I would have prepared to enter pharmacy school as a junior instead of completing an undergrad degree, taking one year off and then entering pharmacy school.

What experience from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I did an undergraduate honors research focusing on discovery of an amino acid sequence to lyse bacteria. I thought it was the coolest thing being able to be on a leading front in bactericidals and fell in love with pharmacy even more ever since beginning this project.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Find your passion early. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time, but if you know early on you are interested in helping people early on in your pharmacy career you can be there much more sooner. Also, if you are unsure take your time. There’s nothing wrong with taking a longer time with deciding your future career. Shadow A LOT, work in a pharmacy, or spend time with a current pharmacy student to understand what its like to become and be a pharmacist.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
It’s one of the top schools of pharmacy in the country and world. I wasn’t happy going to other schools and I really wanted to go to UNC for pharmacy school. It is the best education and by far the best value for a pharmacy education.

What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
My favorite experience is getting to be in a entirely different group of people who I spend the next 4 years with. It’s strange starting over again with your friend groups, but its so cool to be in class with so many intelligent and friendly people. Its great to show up and take classes with people you enjoy seeing every day.

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
Work-Social-School life. Pharmacy school takes a lot of energy, effort, and dedication. It is a lot more demanding than undergrad and takes adjustment to understand the level at which UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy wants you to perform. You will be competing with the top of the top. Your classmates are brilliant and to compete with them you need to give full effort too. This means consistently studying and preparing for the week ahead of you. I was not used to this coming into pharmacy school.

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
I think hospital has the most interesting scenarios for pharmacy. I’m still open though.

What makes for a successful pharmacy student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
You need to maintain a great balance of school, organizations, clubs, extracurriculars, jobs, and social life. Balance all those and you will be an excellent pharmacy student.


Have more questions for Justin? Feel free to send him an email: justin_harrison@unc.edu

The fast track or the traditional track – Part 2

The PharmD program is unique in that applicants do not need to have completed a bachelor’s degree before starting. Approximately 20% of each incoming class does not hold a bachelor’s degree. They enter the PharmD program after 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study – however long it takes to complete the prerequisite coursework.

One of the most common questions we get is in regards to whether an applicant should complete their bachelor’s degree or forgo their bachelor’s and apply early. This is a challenging question, because there is no clear cut answer! Last week I posted about some of the benefits to finishing your undergraduate work early (the fast track), and this week I’m back with the benefits to finishing your bachelor’s degree on the traditional track. Next week, I’ll wrap up this series with some final thoughts.


Benefits to completing your bachelor’s degree (the Traditional Track):

  • The most common reason that a younger student is not competitive in the admissions process is because they are not well-rounded. In order to fit all the prereqs into 2 or 3 years, students have to take heavy course loads (with several science labs) each semester, and sometimes have to enroll in summer courses. This doesn’t leave much time for extracurricular involvement, pharmacy or healthcare shadowing, or research opportunities. Having the chance to be well rounded makes students stand out not just in the application process, but also in the interview process. Older students typically do better in the Multiple Mini Interviews because they have more life experiences to talk about.
  • Heavy course loads can be academically challenging and time intensive. We often see younger students’ grades suffer because they take on more than they can handle. Students who choose to finish their bachelor’s degree are able to spread their courses out over 4 years. In addition, students are able to take more advanced coursework as juniors and seniors, which is great preparation for our program. Having an extra year to participate in a senior capstone or research project is something we value highly.
  • When you get to pharmacy school you will be taking all pharmacy courses…all the time. College is the time to explore and take classes you’re interested in – especially outside the sciences! You won’t have much flexibility in pharmacy school to take classes outside of the School. So if you want the chance to study abroad for a semester, take a theater/creative writing/political science/whatever your interest is class, or pursue a minor or second major, plan to schedule it before pharmacy school.
  • Students in our PharmD curriculum are interacting with patients as early as the summer after their first year; so if young students don’t have any prior pharmacy or health care experience, it might be overwhelming to be working with patients who might be several years or decades older. Some students aren’t ready or mature enough for a professional program after 2-3 years of undergraduate work, and having that extra year to grow and mature can help.
  • One benefit to completing your bachelor’s degree is just that – you complete your degree and get the diploma to prove it. For students who are on the pharmacy fast track, it might take 6 or 7 years for them to get a diploma. You want to make sure that pharmacy is absolutely the right path for you, because if you forgo your bachelor’s degree, and after starting pharmacy school realize that it isn’t the right fit, then you don’t have any degree after several years in school.
  • One last thing to think about: when you enter a professional program without finishing your degree, you are going to be in your first or second year in pharmacy school when your friends from college are enjoying their senior year. You might not have the time as a graduate student to join your friends in their senior year festivities. Pharmacy school will always be there, but you only get one chance to enjoy your senior year in college with your friends.

Meet the Ambassador – Melissa Lore

Meet Melissa! She completed 2 years of undergraduate work at University of Florida, comes from a pharmacy family (a phamily, if you will), and enjoyed the Molecular Foundations of Drug Action class during her PY1 fall semester.

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Melissa Lawrence, Class of 2019, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Orlando, Florida
Prior Education: Associate’s degree, University of Florida


If you could have an endless supply of any one type of food, what would you choose?
Mac and Cheese! It’s my favorite food of all time!

If you won a lottery ticket for $100 million dollars, what would you do with it?
I’d probably save most of it to help pay for school and for future investments. I’d also use some of it to help my family with anything they needed, and donate some of it as well. I would also use part of the winnings to travel!

If you had one extra hour each day, how would you use it?
I would go for a run! Pharmacy school keeps me so busy, and I always feel like exercising is the one thing that always falls by the wayside, so I’d love an extra hour to squeeze a run in.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I became interested in pharmacy from many different places. I’ve always excelled in science and math, so those strengths directed me towards a career in the healthcare field, as well as my desire to have a job that allowed me to help people. Another influence came from my family. I volunteered with my mom, who is a pharmacist, and really enjoyed being in the pharmacy. Her job seemed interesting and allowed her to make a positive impact in the lives of others. Finally, after learning more about the many different paths that can be taken in pharmacy, I was sold that it was the career for me!

What experience from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I think the course load that I took on during undergrad really helped to prepare me for pharmacy school. When I went into undergrad, I had already decided that I wanted to enter pharmacy school after two years. Because of this, my course load was pretty intense every semester, including both summers, and involved a lot of science courses. I also was deeply involved in a couple of organizations. While this made undergrad quite challenging, it helped prepare me for the even more intense course load that goes along with pharmacy school, as well as improve my time management and study skills.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Pharmacy is a great profession to get into! It has so many different opportunities, all of which allow one make a positive impact in the lives of others! In regards to preparing for pharmacy school, I would advise prospective students to really be a “well-rounded” student, in that you do well in school, but also are involved in other things such as student organizations, research, work, etc. These experiences will help prepare you for the rigors of pharmacy school, and also help you pinpoint your interests.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
I chose to attend the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy due to the excellent education that it provides to its students. The new curriculum, in particular, interested me because of its uniqueness and embedded opportunities. What excites me most about the new curriculum is the experiential rotation opportunities that we will get, as the time for these have essentially been doubled. As a result, we will get more time in “real life” situations, which will allow us to not only apply what we learn in the classroom, but also learn so many new things through practical experiences. In addition to its novel curriculum, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy has a world class faculty. Knowing this, I am sure that I am learning the best information from experts leading their fields. Not only is the faculty very knowledgeable, but they are also very approachable and open to answer any questions a student may have.

What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
My favorite experience at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far has been the class Molecular Foundations of Drug Action. I found this class so interesting as we got to learn how many of the different drugs classes work and what allows them to exert their respective physiological effects.

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
I am most interested in pediatric pharmacy. I really love taking care of kids and have found that it is a passion of mine. I feel that pediatric pharmacy will allow me to combine my passion of taking care of kids with my passions for science, math, and helping others.


Have more questions for Melissa? Feel free to send her an email: mlore@email.unc.edu

The fast track or the traditional track – Part 1

The PharmD program is unique in that applicants do not need to have completed a bachelor’s degree before starting. Approximately 20% of each incoming class does not hold a bachelor’s degree. They enter the PharmD program after 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study – however long it takes to complete the prerequisite coursework.

One of the most common questions we get is in regards to whether an applicant should complete their bachelor’s degree or forgo their bachelor’s and apply early. This is a challenging question, because there is no clear cut answer! Here are some things to consider if you’re trying to make the decision whether or not to complete your bachelor’s degree. This week I’ll post some of the benefits to finishing your undergraduate work on the fast track, and next week I’ll follow up with the benefits to finishing your bachelor’s degree (the traditional track).


Benefits to completing your prerequisite courses in 2-3 years (the Fast Track):

  • Some students finish high school with AP or IB credits or dual enrollment courses which transfer in as credit to their undergraduate institution. They might test out of a course altogether, or receive placement into a higher level course. This enables them to start college with enough credits to complete the prerequisite classes in less time.
  • If you know that pharmacy is right path for you, you will likely want to get to the PharmD program as quickly as possible, because those are the classes you’re going to be most interested in. Rather than taking an extra year of coursework at the undergraduate level just to fulfill degree requirements, you want to pursue your passion as quickly as possible.
  • The cost of pursuing a bachelor’s degree and a PharmD degree can be huge. Students looking to lower their debt post-graduation might choose to finish their undergrad studies early in order to save money.
  • If you’re able to demonstrate that you’re a competitive applicant already – strong academically, well-rounded, mature – and are ready to enter a rigorous PharmD program, then what do you have to lose by applying early? If you feel that one more year of undergraduate work is not going to make you more competitive or more ready for pharmacy school, then you might benefit from applying early.

 

 

 

#1

Ranking

Dean Blouin speaks to students, faculty, and staff in Chapel Hill

Very exciting news – the U.S. News and World Report released new rankings and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy is number one among the nation’s pharmacy schools. Read more details here.

There is a lot of excitement at the School today, and Dean Blouin said it best: “This latest ranking reflects the quality of our program and is a testament to the talent, hard work and dedication of our students, alumni, faculty and staff…It is important to know that this ranking is not an end unto itself but rather a validation of who we are, what we do and what we believe in as a School. Our continued purpose is to accelerate needed changes in health care, education and research.”

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Students, faculty, and staff celebrating on the Asheville campus

Meet the Ambassador – Martin Shaughnessy

Meet Martin! He’s from Texas, knows the importance of staying organized in pharmacy school, and has some great advice for future UNC pharmacy students.

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Martin Shaughnessy, Class of 2019, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree, St. Mary’s University (TX)


If you could have an endless supply of any one type of food, what would you choose?
Pizza, definitely!

If you won a lottery ticket for $100 million dollars, what would you do with it?
First thing I would do would be to make sure my family was taken care of financially for life! Also paying back college loans would be awesome!

If you had one extra hour each day, how would you use it?
Sleep!!!


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
Growing up, my best friends parents were both pharmacists. They really showed me the diversity of the profession and the possibilities that can come with it. They also always put family first and that’s something I want to be able to do with my profession.

What experience from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
The best activity to prepare me was my extracurriculars. They taught me how to balance responsibilities with class and to not let one slack for the other.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Stay busy and stay driven. This is not the easiest profession to get into and probably for good reason. You really have to be willing to work your hardest everyday if you want to get the most out of your education and profession. Learn the best ways for you to study and learn early on and continue to develop upon it. Finally make sure you’re having fun with whatever you’re doing. Don’t get caught up in chasing a profession you don’t enjoy just because you’re expected to or it’s a part of some big plan! I hope you find pharmacy to be as interesting and enjoyable as I do!.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
I didn’t think about UNC until a professor advised me to apply right before I submitted my PharmCAS. Luckily I was offered an interview and it was during Candidates Day (the interview) that I fell in love with the school and knew this is where I needed to be. The students and faculty here are top notch and I knew this school would give me the best tools to succeed in my profession.

What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
I attended AMCP Nexus this semester and loved it. It is a conference for managed care pharmacy. It was a great networking opportunity and it was in Orlando so I had a blast down there!

What makes for a successful pharmacy student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
Being organized, responsible, and proactive. If I still only attempted to do work the night before it was due like in undergrad I’d be in some serious trouble. Being here I’ve had to improve my effort and begin work in advance to stay on pace. I even have a planner now which is crazy to me!


Have more questions for Martin? Feel free to send him an email: martin@unc.edu

Upcoming events

March is the start of a busy few months for us – we have a number of recruitment events coming up both at the School and in the local area. If we’re visiting your school, we hope that you will be able to join us!

March 21, 5:30pm: Asheville Open House – Sign up Here
March 22, 6:00pm: Duke Pre Pharmacy Union

North Carolina Health Expo Week

March 28, 4:00-7:00pm: East Carolina University
March 29, 1:00-4:00pm: UNC – Chapel Hill
March 29, 6:00-8:00pm: Duke University
March 30, 11:00am-2:00pm: North Carolina State University
March 30, 12:00-4:00pm: Campbell University
March 30, 6:00-8:00pm: UNC – Greensboro
March 31, 6:00-8:00pm: Appalachian State
April 1, 11:00am-1:00pm: UNC – Charlotte

April 7, 12:00-3:00pm: UVA Graduate Health Professions Fair
April 8, 2:00pm: Pharmacy Friday, Chapel Hill – Sign up Here
April 11, 5:30pm: Chapel Hill Open House – Sign up Here
April 14, TBD: East Carolina University Pre Pharmacy Club
April 16, 12:00-4:00pm: Clemson University Pharmacy School Fair
May 27, 2:00pm: Pharmacy Friday, Chapel Hill – Sign up Here

Meet the Ambassador: Michael Bitonti

Meet Michael! He studied bio in undergrad, enjoys interacting with patients, and if he won $100 million, he would travel around the world.

Michael Bitonti, Class of 2017, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Elon, NC
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill


If they made a movie of your life, which actor/actress would you cast to play you?
George Clooney

If you won a lottery ticket for $100 million dollars, what would you do with it?
Travel the globe


What experience from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
Majoring in biology and taking multiple science courses within a semester helped prepare me for the pharmacy curriculum and challenged me to develop better time management skills.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Get involved in undergrad working as a pharmacy technician or shadowing a pharmacist.


What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
Ambulatory care pharmacy is the most interesting to me because I really enjoy interacting with patients and being able to monitor their chronic disease states over time.

What makes for a successful pharmacy student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
Understanding that the material you are taught in class is necessary for your future career, and it is important to take it upon yourself to learn the material to be both a successful student and pharmacist.


Have more questions for Michael? Feel free to send him an email:  bitonti@email.unc.edu