Candidates’ Day Advice – Ricky Kong

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 looked up a list of generally accepted MMI questions. I took that list and practiced with some friends in order to get general feedback of my speaking skills. Feeling comfortable with what you are talking about really comes across in an interview. One of the biggest things that you can do is practice and I know it sounds cliche, but it really does work.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
I really enjoyed the structure of the MMI interview. Being able to talk to multiple people can help build a candidate’s confidence as the day proceeds. Also it can help that you can give multiple first impressions if there was an interview that you did not feel great about. Overall, the people I met that day, both candidates and volunteers, appeared to be really enjoying themselves. By the end of Candidate’s Day, I was already sold on wanting to go to the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

 

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
Make a good first impression on people. Pharmacy is a professional health field so we are expected to act accordingly. Carrying yourself appropriately as well as being attentive in all of the activities goes a long way.

Meet the Ambassador – Arwa Omary

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Arwa Omary, Class of 2018, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Raleigh, NC
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Biochemistry, NC State University


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
This probably is not a true superhero power, but I would love to be able to travel at the speed of light. I would save so much time, not have to worry about running late, and would avoid dealing with traffic during my every day one-hour commute!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
My travel destinations’ list is very long, but if I had to chose one place it probably would be Turkey.

 


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
During my junior year in high school, my dad had to be hospitalized for AFib. The day he was going to be discharged, a clinical pharmacist walked in and counseled him on the use of Lovenox. She thoroughly explained what the medication was, how to use it, and what to look out for. Observing her counsel my dad really sparked an interest in me for pharmacy. Ever since then, I became passionate about learning how drugs work in our body and being able to communicate that in a patient-friendly manner to patients.

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I would say coming into pharmacy school with a major in Biochemistry has definitely been helpful. It made understanding drug mechanisms of action a lot easier. Also, having worked at CVS for almost a year and a half was very beneficial when we started learning about drugs in pharmacy school. Previously being exposed to things like brand/generic names at work made memorizing drug information go a little smoother.

 


What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
Both my introductory rotations (community and hospital) have been immensely rewarding. Specifically, during my community rotation last summer, I felt that even though I was still a second year pharmacy student, I was able to use the knowledge I had gained during the first 2 years of school and apply it to provide optimal patient care. Just as an example, I performed a medication review for a 95 year old patient who was on Warfarin. He had just seen his dermatologist and she prescribed Econozole (a topical antifungal). It turns out though that Econozole is contraindicated with Warfarin use because it results in bleeding and major bruising. I called the dermatologist and recommended a switch to topical Nystatin which she agreed with. The patient was very grateful because I was able to save him from unnecessary bruising. So, my point is that you would be surprised at what primary providers do not realize when it comes to medications, and my rotations have certainly reinforced the importance of having a pharmacist on the healthcare team.

 

What makes for a successful pharmacy student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
Definitely having an open mindset and being willing to challenge oneself is key to success at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Three years ago, I would never have imagined myself being able to balance 2 jobs along with several leadership involvements while being a full time pharmacy student. But this is why having the drive to constantly challenge yourself to go above and beyond what you previously thought was your limit will serve you well in pharmacy school. The opportunities are endless at ESOP and I would definitely encourage students to take advantage of such enriching experiences as long as it doesn’t get to the point where it’s overwhelming.


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

Candidates’ Day Advice – Vivian Cheng

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)?
I looked up common interview questions online, and made sure that I had some answers prepared and rehearsed for each of them. I wanted to be prepared and didn’t want to waste interview time thinking about answers to questions that I could have anticipated, such as “why do you want to do pharmacy” and “why do you want to come to this school.” Additionally, I made sure that I had a personal anecdote to tie into each of my responses so that I could give the interviewers a little better picture of who I am. I used my past work experiences, leadership roles, and big moments in my life to make sure each of my responses was grounded and had context. At the same time, I wanted to make sure I was flexible in my responses in case a question threw me off; I didn’t want to be so stuck in my rehearsed responses that I wouldn’t be able to answer an unanticipated question.

I also came up with 1-2 questions in case I had the opportunity to ask either a student or a faculty member. I tried to come up with specific questions about the program to not only show that I had done my research on the school, but also to receive answers that I could distinguish between each school that could ultimately help me make a decision on which program to pick.

However, probably the most important thing I did was just relaxing the night before the interview! I had reviewed all of my notes the week prior to the interview, and I just needed to relax and not psych myself out.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
I really liked having my own personal student ambassador throughout the day! Having a current pharmacy student lead me through the entire day was really helpful, since there were several stations scattered throughout the pharmacy school, and the last thing I wanted to do was get lost! Additionally, all the ambassadors I met were so helpful and gave some great last-minute advice before going into my interview. They calmed me down and reassured me that everything was going to be fine. Furthermore, it was great having so much one-on-one time with a student, as it allowed me to ask some personal questions. At other schools, sometimes the only interaction I had with a current student was during a student panel. On my Candidates’ Day, I really felt like I had ample opportunity to get to know current students, who were so warm and friendly. They took the time to ask us how our undergraduate classes were going, why we were interested in pharmacy, and were happy to help set us up with certain faculty or professional contacts who seemed to match our backgrounds and interests.

Having had a student ambassador on my Candidates’ Day was the reason why I am now involved in the Recruitment Ambassadors Program, the student organization at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy that helps organize Candidates’ Days! I also became good friends with my student ambassador, who recognized me on my first day of class more than 7 months after my interview, and came up me to congratulate me and give me a big hug.

How was Candidates’ Day different from other pharmacy school interviews you attended?
My first impression of Candidates’ Day at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy was that it did a great job at “showing,” not just “telling.” Everything from the scheduled programs throughout the day to the small-group lunches with current pharmacy students really did a great job reflecting the atmosphere that is cultured at this pharmacy school. It was professional, laid-back, and welcoming at the same time. Never did I feel pressured to put up a guard or act like someone I wasn’t. The students made me feel so welcome, and treated me almost as if I had already been accepted! They really seemed invested in getting to know me, and that stood out to me. At some other pharmacy school interviews, The students just answered some of my questions, but that was it. They also seemed just a lot more intimidating and too business-like.

Additionally, the faculty members did a fantastic job being both professional and warm. As a third-year student, I can tell you that they are not just putting up a front, that they are genuinely invested in all of their students and want to get to know you, just like how the student ambassadors are. Furthermore, the programming during the day was very unique. I had not been to an interview as interactive as Candidates’ Day, while also being very informative about how classes and student organizations are like at the school. It didn’t feel like I was sitting in a long lecture about how great the school was.

 

Meet the Ambassador – Ricky Kong

Ricky Kong, Class of 2018, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Rocky Mount, NC
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Biology, UNC-Chapel Hill


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
I would want to fly because then I could save money on gas and bypass all of I-40 traffic.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would want to go to Hong Kong because I hear the food there is beyond delicious and I am all about food.

What three words best describe you?
Outgoing, Fun, Listener

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a chef, but owning a restaurant is hard so I decided to go into a field that I could enjoy like pharmacy.


What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
My uncle is a pharmacist and after interning at his pharmacy in college, I fell in love with the profession.

What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
I would have taken more opportunity looking into other fields of pharmacy. After pharmacy school starts, there are so many options and paths to take in regards to your future career. It would have just been nice if I had more background knowledge of some of these options because it really can shape what electives you take and what you can get out of rotations.

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I think that getting to know my undergraduate professors really shaped how I approached pharmacy school. I remember one professor specifically, Corey Johnson from my anatomy class. He was a great mentor who helped me build my rapport with professors and the advice that he gave me over 2 years was just priceless.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
I would tell most prospective students that are interested in applying to pharmacy school to not make their whole undergraduate experience about grades and GPA. Pharmacy has a great deal to offer and there are so many fields suited for different people. Be well balanced is my main message to all prospective students.

What advice would you give a prospective student trying to decide between pharmacy and another health profession?
Follow what you believe is going to make you happy. Look into all of the health fields and see if a certain profession will be more suited to you. I would say not to just pick pharmacy on a whim but to actually do some background research into the field before applying.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
The faculty are top notch. The facilities are really nice and are being updated as we speak. Also Chapel Hill was my home for 4 years in undergrad and I could not have imagined a better place to go to pharmacy school.

What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
I would say that my favorite experience so far has been getting to know my professors and getting their story as to why they chose to be in the field of pharmacy.

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
Time management becomes a necessity in pharmacy school.

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
Community pharmacy because of the rapport that I can have with patients.

What makes for a successful pharmacy student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
Good time management and involvement is key to being a successful student in pharmacy school.

What’s one thing you would change about the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
I wish that I could have had more elective classes than allotted to me during my PY3 year.


Have more questions for Ricky? Feel free to send him an email: rkong@live.unc.edu

Candidates’ Day Advice – Megan Cuomo

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)?
One thing that was helpful was reviewing what Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) are and viewing practice questions online. Additionally, thinking of examples of important experiences throughout your work, school, or personal life that shaped your desire to practice pharmacy, interactions with patients, etc. can be helpful. These experiences can help support your answers in scenarios evaluating non-cognitive traits.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
The design of Candidate’s greatly benefits the potential incoming students due to its varied activities and easy access to current students. One of the unique things about UNC’s Candidates’ Day is the extensive exposure to the school through demonstration of technology, the flipped classroom model, and current students. Being able to interact with several current students throughout the day really allows the prospective students to understand many ways to get involved at UNC and different perspectives on student life.

What part of Candidates’ Day was most surprising/unexpected to you?
The most surprising part of Candidate’s Day to me was the presentation on classroom procedure by Dr. Persky. I was surprisingly relaxed during that session and learned a lot about the flipped classroom model. He did a good job of making the session fun!

If you could go back and relive Candidates’ Day, what would you do differently (if anything)?
I am not sure I would do anything differently. Since you cannot prepare very much for the MMI, the most important things that I think I did well were to ensure I was dressed professionally and comfortably, slept well, ate breakfast, and stayed confident. Starting out your morning well by arriving early and feeling good can really help reduce stress.

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
It can be intimidating to be interviewing at the same time as so many other prospective students. It is important to stay confident in yourself and your accomplishments during the entire day, from check-in to lunch or tour. UNC values diversity; just because you have less pharmacy or school experience or different experiences than another candidate does not mean that you would not add value to the school!

Meet the Ambassador – Carolyn Rath

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Carolyn Rath, Class of 2020, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Biology, Global Health , Duke University


What three words best describe you?
Enthusiastic, hard-working, and very smiley!

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
I used to be very focused on starting my own bed-and-breakfast. I still haven’t ruled it out for a post-pharmacy career retirement project 🙂


What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
During my time in college, I focused heavily on my coursework and earning good grades. While this diligence helped me to be successful in the classroom, I think that I missed out on opportunities to develop leadership skills, serve my community, and pursue relationships with potential mentors. If I could go back now, I would encourage my undergraduate self to close my textbooks, leave my dorm room, and head out into the world to engage more deeply with activities and people that could help me to grow as a person.

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I volunteered in the playroom at the Duke University Children’s Hospital throughout my time in college. While I was not gaining direct pharmacy knowledge, the experiences I had and the people I met reaffirmed my passion for health care and decision to pursue the pharmacy profession. It was a great privilege to have the chance to positively impact pediatric patients and their families – I look forward to striving for this positive impact every day as a pharmacist!

What advice would you give a prospective student trying to decide between pharmacy and another health profession?
What I wish that someone would have told me when I was indecisive about my future path was that it’s okay not to know exactly what you want to do right at this very moment. Choosing between pharmacy and other health professions is a big decision – but don’t let the process consume you! Invest time to explore your options now so that later, you will know you made the right choice for you. Personally, I was hesitant to reach out to health professionals about shadowing opportunities. However, if I hadn’t shadowed several pharmacists at Duke University Hospital and learned about the myriad opportunities in the field, I might not have realized that the pharmacy path was perfect for me!


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
When I was choosing between pharmacy programs, I organized my thoughts with a pros and cons list – color-coded and categorized, of course! I compared different schools based on curricula, student involvement, research opportunities, and proximity to strong health care systems. Without fail, the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy ranked at the top of every category! Not only could I attend a school with a unique, innovative, and challenging curriculum, but I could also apply my classroom knowledge to early immersion experiences in the pharmacy field. In addition, I could join a friendly, driven student body that was committed to serving patients in the Carolina community and beyond. I smile now when I think of the effort I put into that color-coded list – the best color for me was clearly Carolina blue!

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
Currently, I am most interested in pediatric or neonatal pharmacy. Through my shadowing experiences, I have had the opportunity to learn about how pharmacists can positively impact pediatric patients and their families as part of the patient care team. To many people, the pediatric or neonatal units at a hospital can be scary places – but to me, these units are filled with hope for helping the smallest patients take big steps towards health and well-being.


Have more questions for Carolyn? Feel free to send her an email: cgr8@email.unc.edu

Candidates’ Day Advice – Ryan Ragan

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)?
Talked to family and friends about pharmacy school to help verbalize my motivation to attend pharmacy school. I also met with my undergraduate professional school counselor and practiced a mock interview before each Candidates’/Interview Day.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
I liked the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of members of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy (UNC ESOP) community from students to deans and everyone in between. I also enjoyed the peak into the flipped-classroom teaching style practiced by the professors in combination with the discussion about the unique curriculum at UNC ESOP.

How was Candidates’ Day different from other pharmacy school interviews you attended?
Candidates’ Day was different in two major ways. First, Candidates’ Day provided an example of the flipped-classroom teaching style of the professors at UNC ESOP. Secondly, UNC Candidates’ Day afforded the opportunity to interact with many more faculty and staff than the other interviews I attended. It seemed to me that the faculty and staff are more involved in the interview process at UNC ESOP than at other institutions.

What part of Candidates’ Day was most surprising/unexpected to you?
The most unexpected part of the day was receiving dedicated face-to-face time with students currently enrolled in the School of Pharmacy program, without the presence of faculty, staff, or administration looming in the background. This allowed for a much more open and candid conversation among the group about more informal topics. The topic of conversation was much less structured than I was expecting to experience during the course of an interview day.

If you could go back and relive Candidates’ Day, what would you do differently (if anything)?
The only thing I would do differently would to stay as healthy as possible in the weeks leading up to the visit because I felt bad for constantly sniffling and coughing throughout the day. The sense that I was being a nuisance to the other interviewees made me a little uncomfortable. In reality, this is largely out of my control since I was flying in from Minnesota where it had been snowing and cold for 2 months before the interview.

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
The best piece of advice I can provide is to relax and be yourself throughout the day. By relaxing, your responses will remain candid and allow you to interact in a meaningful manner with all of the professors, administrators, staff members and students that you meet throughout the day.

Meet the Ambassador – Justin Harrison

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


What three words best describe you?
Funny, Kind, Hard-working

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
A scientist of some type. I’ve always really enjoyed science and math growing up.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I had an interest in pharmacy while I was studying chemistry as an undergrad. I thought I wanted to have a career in chemistry and really enjoyed the study. Towards the end of my undergrad studies I became more interested in how chemicals can affect the body and I began to pursue a career in pharmacy.

What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
I wish I could have known I wanted to pursue pharmacy from the beginning of undergrad so I could have spent less time deciding my career. It would have been nice to save up for more years of studies.

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
All of my chemistry and biochemistry prepared me very well for pharmacy. Anatomy and physiology is also a crucial class to understanding the function of the body and how to alter it with pharmacotherapy.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Try out pharmacy before entering the career. Try to shadow or get a job in the hospital, community, industry and get a feel for how versatile a degree in pharmacy can be.

What advice would you give a prospective student trying to decide between pharmacy and another health profession?
Try them all by shadowing. If you are indecisive the best way to learn if something is a possibility or not for you is to experience it for yourself. Try out everything you are interested in. You are committing a lot of time to receive a degree in any medical profession, so take your time and make sure its the right choice for you.


What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
My first rotation was amazing. I had my hospital rotation at Duke Hospital and was exposed to so many areas in the hospital. It’s amazing how much opportunity is out there to impact patient care as a pharmacist.

What has been the most challenging part of pharmacy school?
There is a lot of information. Sometimes the courses can go through peak and troughs as far as work load and every now in then many of the courses have high demands at the same time. This requires either planning for these times in the future or working long, hard hours to complete all your work.

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
I’m most interested in cardiology pharmacy at the moment.

What makes for a successful pharmacy student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
Have a good attitude, show up to class every day (it’s your job in school), prepare for class ahead of time, and study for exams as you learn material (no more cramming for exams).


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