Candidates’ Day Advice – Amy Dorszynski

With interview season beginning, current students reflect back on their experiences at our interview day (Candidates’ Day).


Besides UNC, how many other pharmacy school interviews did you attend?
1

How did you prepare for Candidates’ Day (or pharmacy interviews in general)?
To prepare for Candidate’s Day, I went online to research some common interview questions. I complied a list of questions and determined how I would respond. This was helpful for me because it made me think about some of my specific experiences that I could draw upon during the interview. I think this process was mostly beneficial because it made me feel more prepared even if I hadn’t practiced a specific question that I was asked.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
I really loved the opportunity to spend time with current PharmD students at Candidate’s Day. Not only do they help direct you to all of your stations throughout the day, but they also eat lunch with you. This decreased my stress level and gave me a chance to meet some people who were already where I wanted to be!

How was Candidates’ Day different from other pharmacy school interviews you attended?
Candidate’s Day here at UNC ESOP was very different from my other interview experience. At the other interview that I attended, the interview style was far more typical with a one-on-one interviewer to interviewee format. Here at UNC, you are given seven different short interview sessions. At first, I was nervous about having so many different interviews, but I quickly learned that this made the process far less stressful! In this type of format, you won’t just get stuck with just one interviewer who you don’t click with. Because you have seven different interviewers, you have so many opportunities to let your personality shine!

Meet the Ambassador – Karin Abernathy

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Karin Abernathy, Class of 2020, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Prior Education: No bachelor’s degree – 3 years, UNC-Chapel Hill


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
I’m not really sure if it’s a superpower, but if I could have a photographic memory that would be SUPER helpful in pharmacy school. Just to be able to look at something once and remember it would drastically cut down studying time.

 

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
My family moved a lot when I was younger, so I thought I wanted to be a real estate agent. I thought it was the coolest thing, to get to go in and look at all of the brand new houses and show them to families.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
My father has a chronic health condition, and as a child I spent a lot of time in an independent drug store our family-friend owned. That was my first exposure to the field, and I truly just enjoyed all of the interactions I was able to witness between the pharmacist and my dad and one day decided pharmacy was something I’d like to pursue.

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I think having the experience of working in a community pharmacy setting honestly prepared me the most for pharmacy school. While it definitely isn’t a requirement, I found it useful to come into school having a lot of background knowledge about what many drugs are used to treat, and I had also worked previously in a compounding lab. Working in the field and knowing that I enjoyed it allowed me to be 100% sure that this was the profession I wanted to pursue before I committed so much of my time to studying it.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
I would definitely try to get to know some students that are already in pharmacy school if at all possible. I was lucky to have a friend who was a current student and was able to talk me through the application and interview process and upon acceptance, help me with the transition from undergrad to professional school. It was really nice to have someone always there to answer all of my questions, so I highly recommend reaching out to anyone you can and to start getting to know people early!


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
One of the initial attractions of UNC-ESOP was the undying sense of community between the students and faculty on campus. From stepping inside Kerr Hall on my Candidate’s Day and instantly being greeted by multiple students and faculty, to always being able to approach the professors before or after class, I’ve always felt both welcomed, included, and inspired by both my peers and the staff. However, I think the aspect of UNC-ESOP that most attracted me to the program was ultimately the innovation of the school and where the program has gone and where it is going; how not just the curriculum, but the faculty and students are all open and willing to change as the field of pharmacy and healthcare in general are changing. While learning the foundational courses is important to give us as student pharmacists a background knowledge of many subjects, being able to participate in early immersion experiences in our first and second years in both the community and hospital setting is a unique aspect of our program that is not offered at many other schools, and this accelerated type of learning and experience is a unique opportunity that really excited me about attending UNC-ESOP.

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
I think the most challenging part of pharmacy school for me is just the volume of the coursework, organizations, work, meetings, etc. and just the transition to juggling all of it. I don’t necessarily think the content of the material is that difficult (yet – I am just a PY1), but in undergrad my job was just to go to school and make good grades. Now that I’m super interested in everything I’m learning, I’ve fallen victim to becoming hyperinvolved in everything, and it’s been really hard to balance all of that while trying to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, exercise routine, and social activities – I promise I’m on my way to learning though!


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

My Immersion Experience – Kristina Murphy

Students have their first immersion (pharmacy rotation) the summer after their PY1 year. They are placed in either a hospital (health system) or community pharmacy. For more information about our curriculum, click here.


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Name: Kristina Murphy
Year: PY2 (Class of 2019)
Rotation: Health System

Where was your immersion located?

UNC Chapel Hill Hospital

How did you prepare for your immersion experience?

Before immersion, I did some basic research on the services my preceptors covered to become familiar with some of the disease states and drugs I would be seeing throughout the months. Additionally, I communicated with my preceptor prior to my start date to introduce myself and find out a little more about what to expect. Especially during your first immersion, it can be difficult to prepare as it is something you have never experienced before, but if I could give one piece of advice, it would be to trust yourself and the knowledge you have gained throughout your first year. It can be overwhelming at times, but you’ll start picking up on things you saw in class and relate it to real life practice.

What was a typical day like?

For the first month of my rotation, I was located in the Cancer Hospital Infusion Pharmacy also known as CHIP for my distribution/dispensing portion of immersion. I received the opportunity to learn about the verifying and dispensing process from technicians, residents, and pharmacists. Each day I was with a different employee and received the opportunity to see the entire process from various points of view. For my second month, I was part of surgical oncology, ENT, and orthopedic teams located in the Neuroscience wing at UNC. The beginning of my day consisted on reading up on the newly admitted patients from the night before that needed to be seen. After getting background information, I visited each patient and spoke them about their medications used at home prior to admission. I would then update their medical chart, assess the case and develop a plan. Towards the end of the day, I would meet with my preceptor to update them on any important details I found out from the interview and discuss how I thought we should proceed moving forward. It did require waking up early and staying long hours, but in the end my first immersion was very rewarding.

What did you like about your rotation?

I loved my rotation both in the CHIP and on an actual inpatient service! The dynamic nature of the teams I got to work with were incredible. One of my favorite parts of my clinical month was getting to attend rounds with physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and nutritional specialists. All patients on our service were presented every morning and the team worked together to update everyone on the status of the patient and address any new issues from the previous day while proposing solutions to improve their care. I learned a lot from my preceptors throughout my immersion and am still realizing how much exposure I received when topics I covered are brought up in class. I also enjoyed getting to know the pharmacists I interacted with and learn more about their career journeys. In the CHIP, I had the opportunity to learn from the night shift pharmacists who really took the time to teach and explain clinical details in oncology and even got to verify some orders (under their watchful eye of course). I really felt I could envision my future as a pharmacist and everything I had learn came to life for me.

What part of your immersion was most surprising and/or interesting to you?
I was really excited and surprised by the diverse population of patients I interacted with during my immersion. My experiences ranged from speaking to teenagers to a much older population with various backgrounds, cultures and medical issues.

What was the most challenging part of your rotation?

I think the most challenging part was learning what I could contribute and what role I could play as a first year student; specifically, when I could jump in and help staff and when I was not able during my first month. In the CHIP, hazardous drugs including chemotherapies were produced, however, as students we were not allowed to physically make these drugs making it difficult at times to sit back and watch.

Meet the Ambassador – Kelsey Mueller

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Kelsey Mueller, Class of 2020, Kelsey Mueller Campus
Hometown: Kernersville, NC
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Biology and Minor in Chemistry, UNCW


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
If I could have any superhero power, I would want to be able to time travel. I mainly want this super power to add more hours in the day. I would also enjoy time traveling to live in all the past decades and get a sense of how the world has changed over the years.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I want to travel everywhere! I have dedicated most of my time to education but once I graduate with my Pharm. D, I plan to travel as often as I can. The first place I plan to visit will be Australia. I love to go scuba diving as well as surf!

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast.


 

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I took a gap year in between undergraduate school and pharmacy school. During this gap year, I retook the PCAT, participated in research for a Toxicology lab, and volunteered in a community pharmacy. Personally, my gap year was what prepared me best for pharmacy school. It gave me time to ensure pharmacy was the profession I wanted to pursue as well as strengthened my application. I don’t think everyone should/needs to take a gap year, but it definitely helped me and made a stronger Pharm. D candidate. I believe that volunteering in a pharmacy is what best prepared me for pharmacy school and the profession as a whole.

What advice would you give a prospective student trying to decide between pharmacy and another health profession?
I would advise anyone considering pursuing a health profession to shadow multiple health professionals before deciding their own path. I shadowed a few health professionals before deciding pharmacy was the career for I wanted to pursue. Professional school is a time investment and it would be best to gain knowledge in every possible profession of interest before making a decision.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
I chose UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy because I was impressed with the new curriculum. I will complete my first rotation this summer after competition of my first year of Pharmacy. This was a unique aspect to UNC from any other school I applied to. When I came here for Candidate’s Day, I felt at home and welcomed by the students. The faculty are all experts in their fields and so welcoming to students. There are so many organizations to become involved in at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and to network in the field of Pharmacy. The opportunities are endless at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
The most challenging part of pharmacy school has definitely been managing my time. There are so many opportunities to get involved at UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and it really takes good time management and judgment.


Have more questions for Kelsey? Feel free to send her an email: kelseymueller2015@gmail.com

Candidates’ Day Advice – Emily Garcia

With interview season beginning, current students reflect back on their experiences at our interview day (Candidates’ Day).


Besides UNC, how many other pharmacy school interviews did you attend?
2

How did you prepare for Candidates’ Day (or pharmacy interviews in general)?
My undergraduate university offers mock interviews through the Center for Pre-Health Advising, so I utilized that resource. Since UNC uses the MMI format, I opted to do a mock MMI and felt it was very helpful. I asked current PharmD students for ideas of questions I could ask to get the most out of any Q&A opportunities. And most importantly, I organized my things the night before and got plenty of sleep so I didn’t have to stress on the morning of the interview!

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
Talking to the Recruitment Ambassadors! From the minute I stepped into the school, they were there to greet me, answer any questions I had, and ease my nerves before the MMI. Also, Candidate’s Day is extremely well organized – I received a detailed personal schedule in the morning so I knew exactly where to be at what time.

What part of Candidates’ Day was most surprising/unexpected to you?
I was surprised by how easy it was to talk to the other prospective students on Candidate’s Day. I was nervous that it was going to be a stressful and competitive environment, but everyone was very friendly and encouraging. That spirit of camaraderie has definitely transferred to our PY1 class at ESOP, and I now have many friends that were with me on Candidate’s Day!

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
Before any pharmacy school interview, be sure to do some self-reflection on why you want to become a pharmacist, and what experiences in your life helped shape your path to the PharmD career. I would also recommend jotting down some notes during the non-interview portions of the day, such as student/faculty panels, presentations and tours. Because you may visit different schools over the course of several months, it’ll be helpful to look back on these notes to remember what stood out to you during each experience.

At Candidate’s Day, get to know your Recruitment Ambassador. After I got accepted to ESOP, I kept in touch via e-mail with my group’s Recruitment Ambassador to get advice about apartment hunting and moving to Chapel Hill. Also, the Recruitment Ambassador that gave me my campus tour on Candidate’s Day is now my Peer Mentor.

Above all, try to relax and enjoy your day! Through your application, the school is already familiar with your resume and transcript. During an interview experience, they want to get to know you as a person.

Meet the Ambassador – Amy Thurston

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Amy Thurston, Class of 2020, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
I would have to choose the ability to be in more than one place at once. Not only would it help my productivity by being able to truly multi-task, but it would also help with my FOMO (fear of missing out)! I hate having to choose between two activities and events when both are ones that I would like to go to!

What three words best describe you?
Sporty, fun-loving, perfectionist

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger I always wanted to be an elementary school teacher! I was a very practical youngster apparently since most young kids aspire to be things like firefighters or astronauts.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I originally became interested, or fascinated is more like it, with medications and how they worked when I was in middle school. I thought, how can this tiny thing have an effect on my body? That was a pretty amazing concept for a 12-year-old. And instead of my curiosity decreasing, it continued to grow. After really enjoying and excelling in biology and chemistry classes in high school, I committed fully to wanting to pursue pharmacy as a career with the knowledge that I could do it.

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I think what best prepared me for pharmacy school wasn’t just one particular class or experience, but a combination of things. The number one thing was having a rigorous and busy schedule. I tried to be involved in multiple organizations, worked 2 part-time jobs, and took a full course load. This taught me how to manage my time well and have a good work-school-social balance. Having these time management skills mastered has proven to be invaluable in handling my pharmacy workload!

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Use all of the resources available to you! There are so many current students, admissions representatives, and practicing pharmacists that are willing to give advice if you just ask. And another piece of advice would be to not compare yourself to others; don’t be discouraged from applying to a school just because your GPA isn’t as good as someone else’s or you feel you don’t have as much pharmacy experience as someone else. Just be confident in what YOU can do and what YOU have accomplished because everyone is different and has varying strengths and weaknesses.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
When I came to interview for Candidate’s Day in November, I was completely blown away by all that the school had to offer and how smoothly the whole day went. I learned so much about the new curriculum and the various opportunities available to students at all levels. The early immersion opportunities offered after the PY1 year and throughout the PY2 and PY3 years set UNC apart from all other pharmacy programs in the country. The global aspect and alliance UNC has with programs in London and Australia was also appealing, as the prospect of doing a rotation abroad and seeing how pharmacy works in a different country would be very eye-opening. The sessions that demonstrated how a flipped classroom worked were also very informative and I liked the unique teaching methods demonstrated. In addition to that, everyone from the school that I met and interacted with was incredibly nice and so enthusiastic about the school. Plus, UNC is the best (literally) pharmacy school to attend! .

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
The most challenging part thus far in my first year has been getting used to the amount of pre-class work required for the flipped classroom design. There are always readings or assignments or lecture videos to watch and complete before class and that is very different from undergraduate courses. However the flipped classroom format is very beneficial because then in class we can spend time focusing on problem areas from the pre-class work and then applications of the knowledge.

What makes for a successful pharmacy student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
A successful student here would be one that knows how to adapt to a given situation. Classes here are different than from undergrad so it may be necessary to employ some new study strategies, take notes differently, or put some extra time into re-watching lectures. A successful student also knows their limits and chooses to invest their time in organizations that really speak to them instead of getting involved in everything but only on a surface level. Balance is key- be sure to get enough sleep, be social, exercise, and get all your work done so it is important to manage time well and stay organized.


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

Candidates’ Day Advice – Genevieve Anakwe-Charles

With interview season beginning, current students reflect back on their experiences at our interview day (Candidates’ Day).


Besides UNC, how many other pharmacy school interviews did you attend?
3

How did you prepare for Candidates’ Day (or pharmacy interviews in general)?
I knew I was going to be asked: why do you want to be a pharmacist? This is such a simple question but you will be surprised that it can be a bit difficult when asked on the spot. So I just made sure I had a cohesive answer. Also made sure that I had my professional attire picked out a couple of days before and got a good night’s sleep. Overall, just being confident in myself and projecting that was what helped me get through the interview process. Knowing that I am passionate about becoming a pharmacist was the fuel that I used in answering the questions. That passion will shine through no matter what.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
The MMI interview style was great. UNC was the only pharmacy school that I interviewed for that used that style. It is a great way to make multiple impressions on different people. It also takes off some of the usual anxiety with a traditional interview with two people. It assesses a wide range of skills that better showcases the interviewee’s personality and capabilities.

If you could go back and relive Candidates’ Day, what would you do differently (if anything)?
I wouldn’t do anything differently. I believe that I put my best foot forward and did my best, which paid off.

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
Be confident, be respectful, be enthusiastic, but above all, be yourself!

Meet the Ambassador – Sarah Steinert

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Sarah Steinert, Class of 2020, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Kannapolis, NC
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Polymer and Color Chemistry, NC State University


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
My superhero power would be to have the ability to teleport from one location to another. I love to travel to new places, but I actually hate to drive/fly. This would make my trips much more frequent and I would be able to visit friends and family whenever I want!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would travel to Japan. My grandma is Japanese and would always talk about how great it is. I would really love the opportunity to visit my extended family and really immerse myself into their culture!

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger, I was obsessed with Christina Aguilera! I really thought I was going to be one of her backup dancers and tour with her. I used to run around the house and pretend to be the choreographer!


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I first was interested in pharmacy because I stumbled upon my parents medicine cabinet when I was younger where I saw my dad’s thyroid medicine. After talking to my parents, I learned he had to take this daily because he had his thyroid taken out when he was in his 20s. From there, I became extremely interested in how much we use medicine and how effective it is to treat acute and chronic illnesses.

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
For classes, I found my anatomy/physiology class and my biochemistry class to be the most helpful as I’ve started the curriculum here at UNC ESOP. All of the prerequisites were important; however, I found that these two classes have been the most effective for my classes so far. The best experience or activity I was apart of in undergrad was having leadership positions in different organizations. I felt that this made me more of a team player and made me learn time management skills, which are essential for pharmacy school with the rigorous curriculum and extracurricular activities.

 


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
I chose UNC ESOP for many different reasons. I am from North Carolina and I always had UNC in the back of my mind for pharmacy school. What first stood out to me when I began to officially apply for schools, was the new curriculum that UNC ESOP has put in place. This new curriculum includes a bridging course that lasts for a month before classes start and gives us a swift overview of the prerequisite knowledge we need for our future classes. This greatly reduces the amount of time you normally spend taking foundational courses in other curriculums. This curriculum also immerses you into real life experiences more often and sooner. The school also offers a variety of student organizations that you can be involved in based on your interests! This gives you access to older students and the ability to attend conferences where you learn insightful tips about the pharmacy profession. This also leads to opportunities in innovation and research, which I was interested in. These were the main reasons I chose UNC ESOP; however, the prestige of the school definitely helped as well!

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
The most challenging part of pharmacy school has been balancing school life, work life, and a social life. Unfortunately, there is a never ending to do list that you will never get to the bottom of. This was overwhelming at first, but I have learned to prioritize the most important aspects of life and school to make sure I still have a balanced life. It is important to form relationships with your peers in order to collaborate and have study groups where you can both be active in your learning, but also create some social time. The work load is tough, but the knowledge we are gaining is worthwhile in the end.


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

My Immersion Experience: Ashlyn Norris

Students have their first immersion (pharmacy rotation) the summer after their PY1 year. They are placed in either a hospital (health system) or community pharmacy. For more information about our curriculum, click here.


Name: Ashlyn Norris
Year: PY2 (Class of 2019)
Rotation: Community

Where was your immersion located?

Morrisville, NC: Morrisville Pharmacy and Compounding

How did you prepare for your immersion experience?

There was not too much to do to prepare for the community rotation prior to my first day. Once I started I had to go through all of the trainings for the computer systems and medication review systems that the pharmacy used. I also had to familiarize myself with all of the OTC medications that were available and where to find them in the store as patients came in with questions or requesting certain medications.

What was a typical day like?

A typical day at the pharmacy as a Student Intern started off by checking the fax machine for prescriptions, refill request, D/C orders, hospital discharge summaries, etc. I would then enter and process the prescriptions and refill requests and give them to the technicians to fill. I would then update patients profiles with any medication changes and upload any labs or discharge papers. After all of the paper work was taken care of I would work on conducting Complete Medication Reviews for the pharmacy’s patients. This involved comparing the fill history for a patient to a new discharge summary or medication list from their provider. I would then call the patients and providers and go over any medication concerns or discrepancies that I found and update their profile with our conclusions. Throughout the day I would also answer the phone and speak to any patient that had questions.

What did you like about your rotation?

I had a lot of freedom to initiate projects as I saw fit in the pharmacy, which I really enjoyed. I was able to completely renovate the Pharmacy’s OTC selection and reorganize them based on their specific patients needs. The pharmacy served many diabetic patients so I was able to reorganize their diabetic supply area to make it easier to see what was there and what needed to be ordered, while also making it easier for technicians who may not be as familiar with the supplies able to find what they needed. I was also able to create a How to Store Insulin sheet to give to patients and caregivers on the proper storage technique for all of their different types of insulin.