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

Meet the Ambassador – Erin Mays

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Erin Mays, Class of 2020, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Prior Education: Bachelor’s degree – Biology, Centre College


If you could have any superhero power, what would it be and why?
The ability to make delicious, well-balanced full meals just with the snap of a finger. I love meal planning, coming up with recipes, and even grocery shopping. But, when it comes time to the actual cooking part, I don’t want any part of a process that takes longer than 15 minutes. My Pinterest is full of recipes I want to try, but I hate preparing meals! Actually putting some of those to use would be great!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would love to go to South Africa. I have heard great things about the landscape, the city of Cape Town, the food, and the culture. I have traveled all over Europe but I think South Africa would be unlike anywhere I have been before!

What three words best describe you?
Determined, personable, confident

When you were younger – what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a teacher or an author. Who knows- perhaps one or both of those may still come true one day!


What experience/class/activity from undergrad best prepared you for pharmacy school?
On a whim during my sophomore year of undergrad, I applied to be a pharmacy technician at CVS. I had no experience and was relatively young to work in a pharmacy. A pharmacist happened to see my application and took a chance on me! It was terrifying to start a job where I had no experience, but by not being afraid to constantly ask questions and working hard, I became very confident as a pharmacy technician and knew pharmacy was the career for me.

What advice would you give a prospective students interested in pharmacy?
Don’t be afraid to get some experience in the field! This will not only benefit you by giving you a leg up in your first year of pharmacy school (I still remember certain things about medications by working in CVS), but also will confirm to you that pharmacy is something you want to do. Whether it is working as a technician or shadowing a pharmacist, the more experience the better. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions!


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
This question is very important to me, because I come from a state that also has its own high-ranked state university pharmacy program. However, after interviewing at each school, there was no doubt in my mind that UNC was the best place for me. First, UNC is clearly leading the way in pharmacy education, as shown by its recent #1 ranking. Its new curriculum emphasizes innovative classroom learning techniques, like the flipped classroom method. My favorite part of the curriculum so far is that every class includes at least one case- where we apply what we have just learned to a real life patient scenario. This not only shows us how the information we have learned can apply to our careers in real life, but also helps us learn the material better by applying it to real life scenarios early on. Other schools, like the one from my home state, are making an effort to copy this curriculum, so clearly it is working to produce the best pharmacists. Also, UNC does not wait until the fourth year to get students out working in real rotations. The curriculum arranges rotations for students beginning at the end of our first year, so we will be even more prepared when we graduate. Finally, UNC as a whole has been incredible so far. You can just feel the excitement for learning all over campus- I’m serious. Plus, the school works hard to make the in-state tuition process easy for out-of-state students like me!

What’s been one of your favorite experiences at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy so far?
One of my favorite experiences so far has been joining Phi Delta Chi, one of the professional pharmacy fraternities on campus. Before attending ESOP, I assumed professional fraternities were just like clubs, but it is much more than that. It is a true brotherhood, and allows for numerous networking opportunities. It is a great way to develop close relationships with students in other classes. The brothers of Phi Delta Chi also hold themselves to a level of excellence here at ESOP and also nationally. Being surrounded by a network of such successful people only inspires me to work even harder.

What makes for a successful pharmacy student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
Using your classmates! What is really nice about PY1 year is that your entire class takes all the same classes, and everyone has the same schedule. During undergrad, I never studied with other people, as most of my friends were in other majors. However, group studying is truly one of the most useful study techniques, and it works! I feel like I know the material so much more and will remember it for longer after talking it through with a study group before tests.


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

Candidates’ Day Advice – Starr Barrier

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?
1

How did you prepare for Candidates’ Day (or pharmacy interviews in general)?
Because both the schools I interviewed at planned on doing MMI, all I did to prepare was think about why I wanted to become a pharmacist and what unique qualities each school had to offer me and why I would chose to attend that school.

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
I especially liked the MMI. I liked how organized it was here and enjoyed it a lot more than I would a typical 30 minute one on one interview. You don’t have enough time to be nervous and you get multiple chances to make a good first impression. I liked how the day was split into different sections, and the group discussion time was a good way for us to interact with other candidates and relax a bit. The information panel was particularly helpful.

How was Candidates’ Day different from other pharmacy school interviews you attended?
The information panel had current students along with professors and I thought this was very helpful. Other schools had student panels but no professors were present. I think this also showed how close the student body is with the faculty and this was eye opening for me and one of the reasons why I chose UNC because it shows the faculty really want you to succeed.

What part of Candidates’ Day was most surprising/unexpected to you?
The group discussion was surprising and fun. I liked getting to interact with other candidates that I’m now in school and getting to interact with one of the professors was interesting.

If you could go back and relive Candidates’ Day, what would you do differently (if anything)?
I would have asked the faculty more questions. Asking questions in general is important, but you especially want to talk to faculty to see if this school is the right fit for you.

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
I would think about why you want to become a pharmacist and if there is a particular field you’re interested in. If you’re not that’s fine, but if you’re passionate about something you definitely want to talk about that at some point. I would ask a bunch of questions because you want to make sure that you chose a school that’s going to be a good fit for you. Don’t forget to relax and be yourself! This is your chance to sell yourself and they want to see who you are.

Meet the Ambassador – Taylor Dennison

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Taylor Dennison, Class of 2019, Chapel Hill Campus
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Prior Education: No bachelor’s degree – 3 years, Clemson University


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 fly- cliche but so true. I would love to be able to get places faster and see things from a bird’s eye view!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I would love to go to Bali or to the Great Barrier Reef.


How did you get interested in pharmacy?
I was talking with my Mom’s co-worker who exposed me to the world of clinical hospital pharmacy. Prior to that I had no idea that pharmacists were even in hospitals let alone rounding with other health care professionals and having a direct impact on patients. I loved that pharmacists could use their knowledge to optimize medications while working with patients directly, to me that was the best of both worlds and initially got me interested in pharmacy.

What would you change about your undergraduate studies and/or preparing for pharmacy school?
Although probably unexpected if I could change my undergraduate studies in order to better prepare for pharmacy school I would take more Spanish classes. I have been fortunate and have had the opportunity to work with many Hispanic populations through several organizations I am a part of at school. If I had a better understanding of the Spanish language I would be able to better understand and serve the patients I work with.


Why did you choose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy?
I chose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy because of the incredible administrators, faculty, professors, and other students who are here. Every day I am encouraged by the people I am surrounded by who challenge me and push me to be my best. I was also drawn to ESOP becuase of the changing curriculum which allowed me to go on rotations earlier, more often, and for longer than any other program I had looked at. Finally, the emphasis on international opportunities was something that drew me to ESOP. I have a passion for travel and attending a school that also valued multicultural experiences was important to me.

What area of pharmacy is most interesting to you?
Clinical pharmacy in a hospital setting is what interests me most right now. I am especially interested in oncology pharmacy and the role that pharmacists can have managing the adverse effects of many cancer drugs. However, since I am only just starting my second year I am keeping my mind open to all the diverse options the career of pharmacy has to offer.


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

Candidates’ Day Advice – Ashlyn Norris

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

What did you like about Candidates’ Day?
My favorite part about Candidates’ Day was that we got to meet so many different people and really get a chance to know the school. Throughout the MMI you got to meet a variety of professors, faculty members and administrators and in the different sessions throughout the day you were able to interact with even more professors and see what a typical class was like. I really feel that not only did the school get to know me better, but that I also got to know the school and the people here.

What part of Candidates’ Day was most surprising/unexpected to you?
I was most surprised about how much I enjoyed the MMI. I was able to be myself and have meaningful conversations with the faculty members conducting the interviews. Instead of talking about myself for 30 mins to two people, which was awkward at times, I was able to talk to a variety of people and answer questions that made me think and demonstrate my character.

What advice would you give prospective students preparing for interviews/Candidates Day?
My advice would be to stay relaxed and just be yourself. All of the people are really nice and want to see you succeed. The interview questions are not stressful and are meant to get to know you better, so just be honest and true to yourself.

Student Organization Highlight: SHAC

We have 16 student organizations. Student organizations allow students to perform community service and outreach, network and focus on career and professional development, and meet other pharmacy students and have fun.

The Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC) is a clinic run by pharmacy, medical, social work, public health, physical therapy, nursing, and dentistry students (under the supervision of practicing pharmacists and doctors) for under served and low income individuals. The students from the different health professions work together to diagnose, treat, and support the patients. SHAC is a great opportunity for pharmacy students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to direct patient care.

The pharmacy students have a SHAC blog and they post about working in the clinic. Meet the SHAC interns here and read more about their experiences here.

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