Pharmacist: a good career move

Forbes recently ranked Pharmacist second among the ” Top 20 Jobs for Getting Ahead in 2017.” The article summarizes data gathered from a LinkedIn article which looked at the most “promising jobs in America based on the potential for career advancement, job growth and salary.” Forbes summarized:

“In second place on the list, Pharmacist makes an appearance. Pharmacists in the U.S. make an annual median wage of $123,000 and there are more than 3,300 open positions for that profession on LinkedIn, increasing 45% over last year. The job earned a career advancement score of 5 out of 10.”

Meet the Ambassador – Bliss Green

green_bliss

Bliss Green, Class of 2019, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Wilmington, NC
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Biochemistry and Health, NC State University


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
I would be able to adjust/freeze time (without it affecting my age). I just feel like there are not enough hours in the day! Wouldn’t it be nice to just freeze time so that you could have a couple extra hours to sleep-in or study for an exam approaching? I could pause traffic and go around, fast-forward through uncomfortable situations and rewind and reexperience exciting situations.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Bora Bora. I am in love with tropical islands with clear blue water and white sand.

What three words best describe you?
Friendly, organized and passionate.

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
I feel like I changed my mind often. I remember wanting to be a “movie star” and performing skits/dances for my family.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
Since I was a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to pursue a field in healthcare. I am fascinated by science and am empathetic towards people. I looked into many aspects of healthcare in addition to pharmacy (including medical, PA, nursing, etc.) and found that pharmacy was the best fit for me. My roommate at the time was applying to pharmacy school and helped guide me through the process.

What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
I cannot think of anything I would change about my undergraduate studies. Biochemistry was a great program at NCSU that required all of the necessary courses to perform well on the PCAT and to provide the baseline knowledge necessary to keep up when entering pharmacy school. Speaking of the PCAT, make sure to start studying for it at least a few months before you are planning to take it!

What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
I think just being involved overall throughout undergrad was important. It is important to challenge yourself so that you can develop time-management skill and test your limits. I made sure to apply for extracurriculars that challenged me (e.g. honors and scholars programs) as well as extracurriculars geared towards my hobbies (e.g. dance teams).

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
I am happy with my decision to pursue pharmacy. There are so many different career paths available with a PharmD degree. I would advise prospective students to focus on their undergraduate coursework and keep their GPA up while also getting involved on campus and in the community.

What advice would you give a prospective student trying to decide between pharmacy and another health profession?
I would advise them to really research professions/career paths that the degree offers and see where they are best fit and where their personality traits would allow them to excel. More importantly, shadow someone in the field and see what it is like. Ask questions to your peers, professors, advisors, parents, friend’s parents, etc. If available, join student interest clubs on campus and attend informational sessions to learn more about the professions you are interested in.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
Besides the fact that I am from a family of tarheels, UNC has everything I could ask for in a pharmacy school. From the reputation and ranking, redesigned curriculum, and prestigious faculty, UNC contains all of the resources necessary to challenge students and produce the future leaders in pharmacy. The location of the school, being in the triangle area/research capital and right next to UNC hospital, presents numerous opportunities for growth as a student healthcare professional. I believe that UNC produces cutting-edge pharmacists who are capable of adapting to the ever-changing field. The new curriculum teaches students to be better problem solvers and innovators, while also subjecting students to increased hours of patient care and clinical experience. All of these aspects set the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy apart from other pharmacy schools across the nation. I feel honored to be a part of this program!

What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
My first immersion experience/rotation this past summer at UNC Hospital has been my favorite experience so far in pharmacy school. It made me realize the importance of everything I am learning and striving to become. I was able to witness the value of a pharmacist in the clinical setting and provide patient-care to real-life patients in need. It was an amazing learning opportunity and really solidified by passion for the profession of pharmacy.


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

Candidates’ Day Advice: Karin Abernathy

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?
Three

How did you prepare for Candidates’ Day (or pharmacy interviews in general)?
I started by looking up potential interview questions for graduate/professional school admissions. This was super helpful in gauging the types of questions that interviewers are likely to ask – such as questions about myself, questions about my pharmacy school goals, and behavioral questions that involve some sort of scenario that I’d have to address. I took time to think of the things about myself and my experiences that I wanted to highlight during the interviews, and founds ways to draw all of them back to why I wanted to be a pharmacist.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
I think the MMI style is very unique, and I very much enjoyed meeting many of the faculty that would one day be professors that instructed us daily. For me, I found the MMI much less intimidating and less stressful than some of the other interviews I attended. If I didn’t feel great about my connection with the interviewer in one room or the way I’d answered the question, there were still six other impressions to be made.

How was Candidates’ Day different from other pharmacy school interviews you attended?
Aside from the MMIs, I really enjoyed the session that attempts to emulate what a day in a typical class in pharmacy school is like. Looking back now, this illustration really showed me a lot about how a typical day would be as a pharmacy student, including taking pre-class quizzes, working in groups, and comparing, discussing, and defending your answers to your peers to collectively solve problems. A lot of other interviews I attended focused solely on the administrative aspects of the admissions process, which is definitely important and an integral part of Candidate’s Day, but I think this mock class session is unique to UNC in that it looks beyond just being accepted into the program and highlights some of the key features that are special to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

 

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
I think it’s important to really reflect on why you want to be a pharmacist, and why you’d be a good fit for the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. This is helpful not only in prepping for potential interview questions, but will also keep you inspired and enthusiastic during your time on campus. I’d say that the second that Candidate’s Day begins, remember to be professional, friendly, inquisitive, humble, and excited for the duration of your time on UNC’s campus.

Candidates’ Day Advice: Akil Sidi

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 talked to current UNC pharmacy students to get a feel for what the interview would be like and what sort of questions to expect. I went through some general questions that I thought would be asked and practiced the responses I would give. I also practiced interviewing with a couple of different people to see what my weaknesses were and where I could improve.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
I enjoyed meeting all the new prospective candidates along with current students. I learned a lot about the UNC ESOP and some of the unique programs they offer. Although the interviews were stressful, I enjoyed the MMI as it allowed me to interact with different people. Candidates day was a good way to get a feel for pharmacy school and what to expect. Everyone was very friendly and helpful and were willing to answer any questions I had and give me a glimpse into the life as a pharmacy student.

How was Candidates’ Day different from other pharmacy school interviews you attended?
I only attended one pharmacy school interview at UNC so I am not very aware of other pharmacy school interviews. I do know that typically many schools do not use the MMI. That would be the biggest difference I believe; most schools use the traditional 1-3 person panel for about 30 minutes to interview the prospective student. Candidates Day uses a MMI with different scenarios and about 7 different interviewers.

What part of Candidates’ Day was most surprising/unexpected to you?
I was most surprised by all the different people I met and their various backgrounds. It was surprising how open and friendly everyone was to talk to you and help you out as needed. I thought Candidates’ Day was going to be very intense and stressful; instead, other than the interview part, Candidates’ Day was very calm and enjoyable. It was very calm and use to help settle you down so you could perform well on your interview as well as educate you more on UNC ESOP.

If you could go back and relive Candidates’ Day, what would you do differently (if anything)?
The only thing I would differently would be to interact with more people. Each person had a unique story and unique perspective to pharmacy so the more people you meet the more knowledge you get. Also, meeting more candidates would have been beneficial as it would help you build some connections with students if you were to be accepted to the program. Other then these minor changes, overall I believed I performed well at Candidates’ Day and learned a great deal of information.

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
I would advise candidates to be as friendly and outgoing as possible. Talk to everyone and start building relationships as soon as you arrive. It is also a good idea to be very friendly with your recruitment ambassador and the various faculty that are present there. Take the time to ask any questions you have, even if you feel it is a “dumb” question; chances are other candidates have the same question. Take time to prepare for your interviews but don’t stress over it; just do your best and have confidence in your self.

My Immersion Experience – Bliss Green

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: Bliss Green
Year: PY2 (Class of 2019)
Rotation: Health System

Where was your immersion located?

UNC Hospital, Cardiac ICU and Central Inpatient Pharmacy/Sterile Products Area

How did you prepare for your immersion experience?

Throughout the second semester of the PY1 year, there will be a few informational meetings that discuss the requirements for various immersion sites and important dates to make sure everyone is on the same page. I reached out to my preceptor about one month before my immersion to introduce myself, ask if he wanted me to have anything prepared for my first day, and set a location/time to meet him. Before my first day of my immersion, I made a trip over to UNC hospital to make sure I knew where to go and to make sure I could connect to the hospital WIFI. I highly recommend this, especially if you are prone to getting lost like me! You don’t want to be late or unprepared on your first day. Besides that, there was not extensive preparation needed before the start of the first immersion.

What was a typical day like?

For the first month of my rotation, I was in the cardiac ICU working with advanced heart failure patients alongside my preceptor, a PGY2 pharmacy resident, and a PY4 pharmacy student. I was assigned patients by my preceptor and followed them throughout their admission (I started with one patient at a time and then worked my way up 3 patients towards the end of the month). A typical day started around 7am. I would look up newly admitted patients on my unit, particularly patients labeled as “high risk for readmission” and perform a medication history assessment. Basically, I would print their list of medications, go find their room, and interview them on which medications they are actually taking and how they are taking them (as well as the last dose). I would then call their pharmacy to confirm fill-dates and make note of any discrepancies. After medication histories, I would open my assigned patient’s medical records on EPIC (UNC’s electronic health record database) and analyze any changes in labs, vitals, medications, notes from physicians, etc. from the night before. Based on this data, I would begin writing my SOAP note that included my assessment of the patient’s status and my proposed plan for each problem. I would then attend rounds with the entire medical team. This is where I could hear the discussion about my patients and make any medicine recommendations to the team. After lunch, I would present my note/findings to my preceptor and we would have a discussion/mini-lecture on the medications involved. The end of my day usually consisted of independent research assigned to me by my preceptor to support our discussion and my recommendations, updating my patient’s notes in EPIC, and discharge counseling in the cases where my assigned patient was ready to go home. I was usually finished around 4:30pm. Some days I also attended journal club, medication safety meetings, transplant discussion meeting, and lectures/discussions with other students/preceptors. I also spent one day with a nurse to witness their role and how they administer the medications. Lastly, I was lucky enough to shadow two serious operations.

What did you like about your rotation?

I liked everything about my rotation! Especially my clinical month in the cardiac ICU. Everything became so real when I stepped foot into the unit. I was challenged on a daily basis and never stopped learning. My preceptor was a phenomenal teacher and a true role model as a pharmacist/professional. I loved seeing how valued and respected he was as the medication expert on the healthcare team. The experience truly motivated me and made me excited about my career path.

What part of your immersion was most surprising and/or interesting to you?

I was able to shadow two open-heart surgeries during my clinical month in the cardiac ICU, which is something I will never forget. I witnessed the insertion of a Left-Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) into a patient’s heart, as well as a complete sternotomy and aortic dissection. This was the first time I have ever seen a beating heart, working lungs, etc. It was amazing to see what the human body can endure and the advantages that science permits.

What was the most challenging part of your rotation?

The most challenging part of my rotation was the emotional aspect of working with advanced heart failure and the poor health status of patients in my unit . It was difficult to see how sick these patients were and accept the fact that most patients with this stage of the disease do not have good outcomes. I witnessed death and heartbroken families multiple times. It is easy to let your emotions bring you down in this type of setting but you have to remain optimistic and provide the best patient care possible.

Is there anything else you want to share about your immersion experience?

I also spent one month in the central inpatient pharmacy and the sterile products area at UNC hospital. This allowed me to see more of the “operations” side of heath system pharmacy. Within this month, I also spent five days exploring five other types of pharmacy (investigational drugs, pediatrics, specialty pharmacy, special formulations/compounding, and operating room pharmacy). It was a great experience and very beneficial to explore various different aspects of pharmacy. I was offered a job in the IV room/sterile products area after my rotation and am currently working there now!