Meet the Ambassador – Amanda Searls

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Amanda Searls, Class of 2020, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Green Brook, NJ
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Pharmaceutical Sciences , University of Michigan


If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If I could go anywhere in the world I would go to Japan. My grandmother is from Japan and I would love to go and meet some of my relatives!

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was younger I wanted to be a chef! I still enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes. I like to use cooking as a stress reliever when I need a study break:)


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I became interested in pharmacy after my grandfather was diagnosed with dementia. He also battles several other illnesses and balancing his medications was a challenge at first. I soon realized how important medication management is to the treatment process and became fascinated by the field of pharmacy. I began shadowing and talking with pharmacists, and ultimately decided that pharmacy was the right fit for me!

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I think the prerequisite science coursework helped prepare me for pharmacy school. These classes forced me to develop good study habits that are crucial for pharmacy school. Student organization leadership positions and research also prepared me well. Both of these experiences improved my communication and management skills. At research, I had lab meetings twice a month where I had to present my data. This gave me the confidence to converse with higher level students and faculty which has transferred to pharmacy school. This also taught me to time manage and balance activities outside of my school work.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
I would advise students to talk to as many student pharmacists and pharmacists as they can before applying. I would strongly advise looking for shadowing opportunities by reaching out to those at a local pharmacy school or pharmacy. I was not a pharm tech during undergrad, but I shadowed and talked with pharmacists to learn as much as I could about the opportunities within the field. I would also advise students to look up the prerequisite courses required by different pharmacy schools and make a list of them. Many schools have slightly different requirements and it can get confusing if you are applying to many schools!


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
One major aspect that impressed me was the new curriculum. The PharmD curriculum at UNC is distinct from any other college of pharmacy. The flipped classroom approach is unique in that it facilitates active learning and problem solving. This method of teaching stimulates higher-level thinking and discussion. I also loved the opportunity for early immersion experiences after the first year. This curriculum provides up to seventeen months of patient care experience, which was more than any other program I was considering. The focus on innovation and the encouragement to answer questions without answers are unique aspects to this PharmD program. It is an indication of a program that is trying to make a difference in the world.

What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
One of my favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far has been my participation in the Recruitment Ambassadors Program. Being able to give back to the school and inspire interest in the profession of pharmacy is very personally and professionally rewarding to me. Also, the group of ambassadors and faculty make this organization fun!

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
The most challenging part of pharmacy school has been balancing time. School work and student organizations are vitally important and should come first. However, it is important to leave some time for activities outside of school that are important to you.


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

Candidates’ Day Advice – Michelle Ton

With interview season underway, 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)?
Practice interview questions in front of friends and family really helped me organize my thoughts for common questions and helped me relax.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
I was very impressed with the organization of Candidates’ Day and how every aspect of the day went smoothly – including checking in, the interviews, and the tour.

How was Candidates’ Day different from other pharmacy school interviews you attended?
In comparison to the other interviews I attended, Candidate’s Day was more interactive in terms of talking with professors and current students during “down time.” I also felt more relaxed because the recruitment ambassador that my group was assigned was very helpful in calming our nerves and telling us about her personal love for UNC that encouraged all of us to do well in our interview.

What part of Candidates’ Day was most surprising/unexpected to you?
I did not expect to enjoy the multiple mini interviews (MMIs) as much as I did! I originially thought that having multiple interviewers would be nerve-racking but after the first interviewer, my nervousness almost completely disappeared!

Meet the Ambassador – Sabree Burbage

 

Sabree Burbage, Class of 2018, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Seaford, DE
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Pharmaceutical Sciences, North Carolina Central University


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
I’m not quite sure if this counts, but I’ll go with it anyway. My Superhero power would be the ability to understand, speak and write in any and every language. I would like to be able to travel, but it seems as though language barriers often times will limit travel destinations. Having this power would allow me to communicate with the locals and allow me to blend more seamlessly into the area. In a super hero sense, this power would allow me to be a mediator for nations worldwide. I would be able to bridge the communication gap and help to offer solutions to whatever conflicts may arise.

Of course if this doesn’t count, I’d love to be able to fly!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would love to travel throughout Spain. I love traveling to and learning about areas that exude their culture and cultural traditions. Several different destinations within that country have rich history, art and great food. I also have the goal of being fluent in Spanish one day, a long term trip here would definitely help with that.

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
The family always jokes that in preschool I said I wanted to be a farmer, so that I could feed the world. Apparently I drew a picture and everything. However, from the earliest that I can actually remember, I wanted to be a wedding/event planner. I was always great at organizing events and working with people. I also enjoyed seeing people in their happiest moments and helping them to achieve their goals.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I decided in high school that I wanted to work in health professions. I’ve always wanted to help people, but wasn’t sure in what capacity. However, I knew that I wanted to have direct patient contact on a fairly regular basis. Pharmacy became an interest of mine once I noticed that they are the lasting link between the patient and the health profession. I also viewed them as “translators”. Often times people feel rushed with doctors, or do not understand what they are saying. Pharmacists are able to answer any questions the patient may have and “translate” the medical jargon into words that the patient understands. Not only this, as patients are treating the condition, they are able to return to pharmacist as necessary to answer questions. This profession truly allows you to form a relationship with the patient.

What advice would you give a prospective student trying to decide between pharmacy and another health profession?
Pharmacy is an incredibly diverse field, but it is not the only health profession that exists. If you are undecided, try to learn as much about the professions as you can before making the commitment. This can be done through researching, shadowing and interviewing (doctorate students, residents, professionals). Once you have learned about the field, what qualities are valued in the profession, what it takes to get there, etc., you can then weigh your options to determine which is the best option for you.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
I decided to attend UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy because I felt that it was the best fit for me. This school had very friendly and knowledgeable professors and students and each person that I encountered had great things to say about it. Also the school offers a large amount of opportunities for students to explore several aspects of pharmacy, get experience in the field and to interact with the community. Because of my interests in public health, the PharmD/MPH dual degree was also a very attractive option. Lastly, one of the major reasons was that this school emphasized the importance of patient centered care and truly identifying and empathizing with the patient; they actually cared about the patient as a person and did not view them as just another medical condition. This goes full circle back to why I wanted to become a pharmacist. If that hadn’t sold me, of course, there is the additional bonus that UNC is the best pharmacy school in the country.

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
My pharmacy interests are still growing and changing. Because I want to interact with patients heavily, that s driving my current interests. With that in mind, right now, I am interested in ambulatory care, patient education, care transitions and MTM. It is easy to give a patient a medicine and tell them to take it. However, patients are people, too. By that I mean that mistakes happen, life happens and sometimes medication regimens can become overwhelming leading medication errors and bad patient outcomes. The areas I listed cater to the patient and help to decrease the risk of these errors, or prevent them from happening.


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

My Immersion Experience – Ryan Ragan

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: Ryan Ragan
Year: PY2 (Class of 2019)
Rotation: Community

Where was your immersion located?

Kroger Pharmacy, Durham (home store) and Raleigh.

How did you prepare for your immersion experience?

I prepared for my immersion experience by clearing my mind of expectations and preparing myself to say yes to anything they asked me to explore in the first few weeks. After that, my preceptor allowed me to tailor my experience to participate in unique activities or research interesting topics with more input.

What was a typical day like?

A typical day started at 8am, with the opening of the pharmacy. I would research unique drug information questions the pharmacists would encounter throughout the prescription verification process for about an hour before jumping into the workflow to help clear the queues and free up the technicians to complete other tasks or clean the pharmacy. When the daily order came around 9:30am, I would check in all the controlled substances for the pharmacist to sign off on. After lunch time, I would research more drug information questions that popped up while I was gone and keep working in the queues as both a technician filling prescriptions and as a pharmacist performing first checks on the validity and accuracy of prescriptions. Throughout the day, I would answer customer questions about prescriptions that I felt capable of answering or help patients make decisions abuot over-the-counter medications. I was also responsible for giving vaccinations to all patients that were interested in receiving one while I was there, so that added some excitement to the day.

What did you like about your rotation?

I liked the variety of the experiences I had. The team of preceptors at Kroger did a great job of breaking the static flow of community pharmacy work by realizing that staffing as a technician for 40 hours a day for 2 months would get boring quite quickly. As a result, a concerted effort was made to remove me from the pharmacy to participate in unique projects. I conducted employee health screenings many days, presented weekly news stories to various teams of pharmacy staff, and even made a trip to a retirement community to pre-screen patients for flu-shot eligibility. In an average week, I was at my home store about half the time only.

What was the most challenging part of your rotation?

The most challenging part of my rotation was recalling prescription drug information when talking with patients on an impromptu basis.

Meet the Ambassador – Megan Cuomo

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Megan Cuomo, Class of 2018, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Prior Education: No bachelor’s degree – 2 years, UNC-Chapel Hill


If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would go to Italy. I have already been to a few places there, but there is much of the country that I still want to explore!

What three words best describe you?
Responsible, Loyal, Developer


What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
I would have tried to study abroad. Considering I only did pre-pharmacy in 2 years, this would have been very difficult to accomplish, but I wish I would have done a summer program at least.

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
The microbiology pre-requisite class at UNC was the class that best prepared me for pharmacy school in many aspects. First, this was the only class I took in my undergraduate courses that was clinical, so it gave me great exposure to infectious diseases and thinking critically and clinically. The professor is very passionate and really gave us insight with each topic how the material is related to patient care. Additionally, microbiology was one of the hardest classes I took in undergrad, so I think that the challenge of the professor and the material was very beneficial to my time management and learning development before pharmacy school.


What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
One of my favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far has been my participation in the Recruitment Ambassadors Program. Being able to give back to the school and inspire interest in the profession of pharmacy is very personally and professionally rewarding to me. Also, the group of ambassadors and faculty make this organization fun!

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
I am most interested in pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry. I am interested in many potential roles in that area, including regulatory affairs, medical affairs, and pharmacovigilance.


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

Candidates’ Day Advice – Ryan Rodriguez

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


Besides UNC, how many other pharmacy school interviews did you attend?
None – I only interviewed at UNC

How did you prepare for Candidates’ Day (or pharmacy interviews in general)?
I went over the MMI structure. It was a completely new interview style and I wanted to prepare for it as best as I could.

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
You really cannot prepare for the MMI interview. My advice is just be yourself. This interview style is designed to view the the character of a person.

The Calm Before the Storm

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Tomorrow is our first Candidates’ Day of the year. The folders are stuffed, the cowbells are ready to ring, and it’s going to be a beautiful day in NC! We’re excited to welcome our first group of students for interviews. Candidates’ Days are always great events at the School. Over 65 faculty, students, and staff are involved with the actual day’s activities. Want to learn more about Candidates’ Day? There are a number of posts here.

I want to wish everyone interviewing tomorrow good luck! We’re looking forward to meeting you.

Meet the Ambassador – Paige Cawley

Paige Cawley, Class of 2020, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Holly Springs, NC
Prior Education: No bachelor’s degree – 3 years, UNC-Chapel Hill


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
Teleportation. I would love to be able to travel anywhere I want, but I hate flying and long road trips. I also think it would be cool to just snap my fingers and be at my grandma’s house for dinner every night.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Bora Bora. My dream is to stay in one of those huts that are above the water and the floors have glass that you can look through and see the underwater life.

What three words best describe you?
Sassy, driven, chocolate-lover

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a professional basketball player. I realized there was no chance of that happening when I discovered I am short and not that great at basketball.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I went to a medical camp during high school. When I went to the camp I was 99.99% sure I wanted to be a surgeon, but that all changed when I watched a surgery. After that, I got to choose a place in a hospital to shadow for a day. I chose the pharmacy solely because I knew it would not make me throw up. However, much to my surprise, I fell in love with the field. I watched pharmacists counsel patients, create IV medications, advise doctors on specific medications, and research patient profiles and prescriptions. There was so much more to field than I thought.

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
One of the best classes I took in undergrad was a communication in healthcare class. I learned about how to work as a part of a team to provide well-rounded and high-quality care for patients. I also took a health policy and politics class that opened my eyes to the ways in which the health care system is changing and how care is shifting to be more patient-centered. The changes in health care will change the work that pharmacists do.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Try to do research or work or in a pharmacy to make sure it is something you really want to do. It will give you good insight into what pharmacists really do. Also, take classes about health policy or working in healthcare. They allow you to learn more about the healthcare field as well.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
UNC is home to me and I could not imagine leaving Chapel Hill. When I applied to pharmacy school during my junior year, I only applied to UNC because I knew I could not leave. Not only is it my home, but UNC ESOP is also a school with a great reputation, new and improved curriculum, extensive connections, and the opportunity for early immersion experiences.

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
Geriatric pharmacy is very interesting to me because it is growing in necessity due to the increasing baby boomer population. There are very few programs that specialize in geriatrics even though it is a very necessary specialty field.


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

Candidates’ Day Advice – Sabree Burbage

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 prepared by looking up MMI situations and questions online. I was able to watch videos and look through blogs that were both informational and reflective. I had also completed my other interviews and that helped me to work out the nerves and to gather my experiences beforehand.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
Candidates day allowed me to learn about the school/program from several different perspectives.

How was Candidates’ Day different from other pharmacy school interviews you attended?
Candidates Day seemed very well planned and all inclusive. It incorporated more than just the interview. We were able to meet and talk to students, take a tour of the school AND campus and any and all admissions questions were also answered.

What part of Candidates’ Day was most surprising/unexpected to you?
The large number of candidates also interviewing on the same day was very surprising. I can still remember my jaw dropping when I walked into the (almost completely filled) lecture hall.

If you could go back and relive Candidates’ Day, what would you do differently (if anything)?
I would have gotten to Candidates’ Day a tad bit earlier to allow myself time to calm any nerves that I had. After being stuck in traffic and getting lost on the way to the building I was definitely on edge when I arrived.

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
1. Relax and breathe. Everyone is incredibly friendly. Just be yourself, pull from our OWN experiences and do your best.
2. Not only are you interviewing for UNC, but you are “interviewing” UNC. This is your chance to see if the program could be right for you, so ask questions.
3. Be enthusiastic!

Flashbacks and Forward Thinking: My Advice for Prospective Students

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By Carolyn Rath, Class of 2020

In October of this year, I had the privilege to return to my alma mater, Duke University, for a recruitment event for the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy (ESOP). The event was called Graduate and Professional School Day, and was catered towards undergraduate students interested in pursuing business, law, and – my personal favorite – health professional programs. When I arrived at the event, I joined Aaron Todd, the Assistant Director of Student Affairs at ESOP (check out his Twitter if you haven’t already – @UNCpharmAaron) at the UNC table. Throughout the evening, Mr. Todd and I had the chance to talk to students about our program and the myriad opportunities available in the field of pharmacy today. And then, after many pleasant conversations with interested students, a vivid memory suddenly came to my mind.

*Flashback*

It’s late October of 2015. I am in the same room where the professional school fair is held, but it looks different. Instead of the rows of representatives brandishing brochures, there are tables scattered throughout the room where students are studying, chatting, or eating a quick lunch between classes. I am simultaneously trying to scroll through my emails, update my weekly calendar, and enjoy my plate of pasta before rushing off to Physics lab.  And then, just when I am about to close my laptop, one last email comes through with the subject line “UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy – Invitation to Interview.” In that moment, all thoughts (read: fears) of Physics lab disappear as I literally jump for joy, paying no attention to the stares from my peers. This is really happening!

*Flash-forward*

As I stood at the UNC ESOP table, reminiscing on that happy day, I started to think about my pharmacy school application process. While it all worked out in the end (thankfully), there are several things that I would do differently if I could go back now. If you are currently applying to pharmacy school, planning to apply in the future, or just enjoying my blog post here (which I completely understand), this list of tips is for you:

  1. Ask for advice. The process of applying to pharmacy school can be stressful! While you might be navigating territory that is unfamiliar to you, remember that many before you have forged a path to success. When you have questions or feel overwhelmed, seek help from advisors, admissions officers, and current PharmD candidates. Asking your questions now can save you from uncertainty or anxiety down the road.
  2. Show gratitude. Take a minute to think about all of those who have supported you on your pre-pharmacy journey thus far. Have you let them know how much their time and advice has meant to you? Have you kept them informed about your application and interview progress? A quick thank-you note or email update can mean a lot to your biggest fans.
  3. Celebrate the little moments. If you’re applying to schools right now, I know what you’re thinking – can’t I just get accepted to pharmacy school already?! During my application process, I was so focused on checking off boxes on my to-do list that I missed chances to celebrate the small things, like presenting myself well in an interview, receiving my first acceptance, or looking fabulously professional in my interview suit 🙂 Taking time to appreciate the small victories will help you to enjoy the process more!
  4. Be kind to yourself. It’s easy to become so wrapped up in the application process that you lose track of life a little bit. If you’re in your last year of college, don’t miss out on those invaluable, top-of-the-bucket-list experiences. If you’re working, continue to engage with your work and strive to make an impact. Spend time with your family and friends, and pursue activities that bring you joy. It might seem like your application process is the only thing that matters – but remember that your health, happiness, and relationships with others should be top priorities too.
  5. Think beyond the acceptance letter. When I received my first acceptance to pharmacy school, one of my best friends said: “You’re going to be a pharmacist!” Her simple statement reminded me that pharmacy school was not my end goal, but rather the beginning of my journey towards serving patients in the future.

I was so grateful for the chance to return to Duke as a representative of UNC ESOP. Not only did I have the opportunity to share the vision of ESOP with prospective students, but I also had time to reflect on the steps I have taken to get where I am now. To those of you who are applying to pharmacy school, I wish you the best of luck for the beginning of this promising journey, and I hope you enjoy each step along the way. And while I don’t yet have the power to flash forward to the future (still working on that), I have a good feeling about the next class of student pharmacists that will join us at UNC in 2017.