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

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

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 – Sabree Burbage

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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

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