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.

My Immersion Experience – Kristina Murphy

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: Kristina Murphy
Year: PY2 (Class of 2019)
Rotation: Health System

Where was your immersion located?

UNC Chapel Hill Hospital

How did you prepare for your immersion experience?

Before immersion, I did some basic research on the services my preceptors covered to become familiar with some of the disease states and drugs I would be seeing throughout the months. Additionally, I communicated with my preceptor prior to my start date to introduce myself and find out a little more about what to expect. Especially during your first immersion, it can be difficult to prepare as it is something you have never experienced before, but if I could give one piece of advice, it would be to trust yourself and the knowledge you have gained throughout your first year. It can be overwhelming at times, but you’ll start picking up on things you saw in class and relate it to real life practice.

What was a typical day like?

For the first month of my rotation, I was located in the Cancer Hospital Infusion Pharmacy also known as CHIP for my distribution/dispensing portion of immersion. I received the opportunity to learn about the verifying and dispensing process from technicians, residents, and pharmacists. Each day I was with a different employee and received the opportunity to see the entire process from various points of view. For my second month, I was part of surgical oncology, ENT, and orthopedic teams located in the Neuroscience wing at UNC. The beginning of my day consisted on reading up on the newly admitted patients from the night before that needed to be seen. After getting background information, I visited each patient and spoke them about their medications used at home prior to admission. I would then update their medical chart, assess the case and develop a plan. Towards the end of the day, I would meet with my preceptor to update them on any important details I found out from the interview and discuss how I thought we should proceed moving forward. It did require waking up early and staying long hours, but in the end my first immersion was very rewarding.

What did you like about your rotation?

I loved my rotation both in the CHIP and on an actual inpatient service! The dynamic nature of the teams I got to work with were incredible. One of my favorite parts of my clinical month was getting to attend rounds with physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, and nutritional specialists. All patients on our service were presented every morning and the team worked together to update everyone on the status of the patient and address any new issues from the previous day while proposing solutions to improve their care. I learned a lot from my preceptors throughout my immersion and am still realizing how much exposure I received when topics I covered are brought up in class. I also enjoyed getting to know the pharmacists I interacted with and learn more about their career journeys. In the CHIP, I had the opportunity to learn from the night shift pharmacists who really took the time to teach and explain clinical details in oncology and even got to verify some orders (under their watchful eye of course). I really felt I could envision my future as a pharmacist and everything I had learn came to life for me.

What part of your immersion was most surprising and/or interesting to you?
I was really excited and surprised by the diverse population of patients I interacted with during my immersion. My experiences ranged from speaking to teenagers to a much older population with various backgrounds, cultures and medical issues.

What was the most challenging part of your rotation?

I think the most challenging part was learning what I could contribute and what role I could play as a first year student; specifically, when I could jump in and help staff and when I was not able during my first month. In the CHIP, hazardous drugs including chemotherapies were produced, however, as students we were not allowed to physically make these drugs making it difficult at times to sit back and watch.

New curriculum first impressions

You may have heard that we launched a new curriculum this past fall semester. Check out this link to learn more about what makes it unique. Current PY1 student, Melanie Ayarza-Rodriguez, wanted to share some of her first impressions from the fall semester and the new curriculum.

“The new pharmacy curriculum started with the bridging course. The bridging course was mostly review, and an introduction to the important concepts we would need to know for the courses to come in the fall semester. It covered the “basics”: organic chemistry, biostatistics, math, biochemistry, and biology. It was pretty much every hard prerequisite class we took to get into pharmacy school, all in a month’s time. It was so helpful, especially for students who had been out of their groove for a while and had taken a break from school. The review course helped us ease into our fall courses and gave us a preview of what a typical day would be like at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Every day, class was held in Kerr 1001 (in Chapel Hill) and Karpen 106 (in Asheville), and free coffee is available 24 hours a day. 🙂

Then came the fall semester, where we had seven completely new classes all about diseases, medications, immunizations, and so much more! Not only did we have all these new classes, we also had 15 student organizations trying to recruit us to be a part of their circle. Immunization class was fun! If you were wondering, yes, we did give our classmates shots (just two), as it is required in order to pass the class.  The two classes we had to put in a lot of hard work for were Molecular Foundations of Drug Action and Pathophysiology of Human Disease. You get exposed to so many different topics and it all comes at you so fast, but the professors are there to help; everyone here wants to see you to succeed.

As long as you keep up with all your work and manage your time, you could participate in organizations like the Recruitment Ambassadors 🙂 or Carolina Association of Pharmacy Students (CAPS). CAPS is the largest student organization at the school. There are also professional fraternities, which focus on professional development, and other organizations that focus on community service and different areas of the pharmacy profession.

We are only a few weeks into the spring semester, but in every new class we are continuing to build on top of what we learned in the fall. We’re learning a lot about patient safety and care! School is challenging, but in a good way. The curriculum is training students to be innovative and go above and beyond to improve the health care system, and that encourages us to think outside the box and challenge ourselves.”


Meet the Ambassadors

Exciting news! Starting next week, I’m going to feature one student per week in a series called Meet the Ambassador. Each week, I’ll profile a current student who is part of our Recruitment Ambassador program.

Our Recruitment Ambassadors are amazing – they are energetic, friendly, and passionate about our School and the field of pharmacy. They help the School recruit by attending events, giving presentations, and interacting with prospective students. It wasn’t too long ago that they were in your shoes preparing for pharmacy school! Check back next week to meet our first Ambassador.

Asheville Student Perspective: Interprofessional Team Night at ABCCM

A blog post from Stephen Canaday, Class of 2017.

As student pharmacists, we are completely aware that our profession’s job is to serve as the “Medication Experts” on the healthcare team. However, we are only one part of the US healthcare team that ensures quality and safety of the healthcare convey to our patients.  In the United States, pharmacy curriculums at schools of pharmacy tend to focus our training only within our profession, and not from the interprofessional approach.  In 2009, six national associations of school of health care professionals (medicine, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, and public health) formed the Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel to promote the importance of interprofessional education approach.


As a student pharmacist on the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy – Asheville Campus, I have the fortunate to be involved in an interprofessional education program called Interprofessional Team Night.  Interprofessional Team Night is collaboration between Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry (ABCCM), AB Technical Community College Nursing Program, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and UNC School of Medicine.  Interprofessional Team Night is a once a month service-learning and community engagement experience for nursing, pharmacy, and medical students in Asheville, NC.  During Team Night, each professional student comes together to form an interprofessional team that provides free medical care to our community at a local medical clinic.


As a participate of Interprofessional Team Night, I learned the importance of our profession, which is interwoven with other healthcare profession to provide the best quality of care for our patients.  During Team Nights, each professional student has specific jobs and responsibilities as a member of the team.  Nonetheless, the most critical key point that I have learned is the importance of effective communication, and developing relationships with other healthcare professionals to develop a positive medical learning environment, where the patient truly becomes our top priority.

Student Perspective: NCAP

A blog post from Rebecca Call, Class of 2016.

On October 21st, I attended the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists’ (NCAP) Annual Convention in Raleigh, NC. As a third year pharmacy student, I was interested to attend the conference in order to hear more about the recent changes in legislation concerning pharmacists giving vaccinations and also visit the residency showcase.

North Carolina is one of several states in which certified pharmacists can give immunizations, specifically the influenza, herpes zoster (shingles) and pneumococcal vaccines to patients over 18 years old. However, I kept hearing that the law would soon be expanded. This year, the law did change and, as was announced at the convention, pharmacists can now give hepatitis B, meningococcal and tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (TD, Tdap) vaccines to patients over 18. In addition to this, the age restriction for flu shots was lowered to 14 years old. I believe that vaccines are critical to public health and am glad that pharmacists can play a larger role in preventing these life-altering diseases.

While much of the morning of NCAP was spent on presentations, the afternoon featured the residency showcase. Residencies are one- or two-year programs that are completed after obtaining a PharmD degree. Students typically apply for them during their fourth year in pharmacy school in order to develop and specialize their clinical skills.

As a third year student, I wanted to visit the different booths in order to find out about areas that might interest me and local programs to keep in mind for next year. Pharmacy is a very tight knit community, so I was able to say hello to several professors at the various UNC Pharmacy residency tables and also see friends who had graduated and were now completing their first or second residency year. It was inspiring to see people whom I remembered stressing about their residency choices a few years ago now at booths promoting their programs and discussing projects they had completed.

I think conventions are a great way to learn more about the wider world of pharmacy as a student. The NCAP annual convention gave me a chance to keep up to date on current legislation changes in North Carolina as well as learn more about potential options for me after I graduate. The NCAP conference is especially convenient because it is often close to Chapel Hill and covers issues important to pharmacists locally. In short, I would highly recommend it to new students wanting to know more about pharmacy in North Carolina.

Student Perspective: Student Organizations

A blog post from Emily George, Class of 2016.

Some of the more rewarding experiences I have had as a student pharmacist have been outside of the pharmacy school and organizations specific to pharmacy students. Working and volunteering among other professionals in varying disciplines offers a unique perspective to our place as pharmacists in the ever-changing healthcare arena. It has been validating to shadow pharmacists excelling in their niche. Specifically, when rounding at the hospital as a volunteer or just to shadow, it is obvious that pharmacy is viewed with high regard, as doses are verified, lab results are analyzed, interactions are noted and therapeutic changes are made. At times, you wonder how you will ever learn – and remember! – all of those values and interactions, but it has become a personal challenge to meet and exceed the reputation pharmacy holds at UNC.

Additionally, I have been able to take another step back from pharmacy school and the pharmacy department and develop in a role as a healthcare counselor. Specifically, I volunteer for an interdisciplinary student-run organization, SHAC-HIV. In doing so, I gain invaluable experience talking with patients about difficult and not-so-difficult subjects. Rather than thinking about blood pressure and proper dosing regimens, I am able to shift focus more on empathy and emotion, while still teaching, listening and providing a service. This dynamic is important to develop and foster to complement more clinical and textbook knowledge. Again, it provides insight into the overall impact healthcare providers can have on the general public. Figuring out how I can fit into my own role in the future and best employ my knowledge and experience excites me. I would encourage student pharmacists to find what drives them, what their end goal really is, and work to build and develop a strong foundation for whatever it may be during the years in the classroom.

Student Perspective: Comfortable Wearing the White Coat

A blog post from Rashmi Patel, Class of 2016.

It felt like it was just yesterday when I was a sophomore in college volunteering as a student at the Kerr Drug booth at the NC State Fair. It was the first time I had really sought out a volunteer opportunity related to pharmacy so I still wasn’t exactly sure of all the things that a pharmacist was capable of. I just remember being in awe of the young pharmacist I was working with in her crispy white UNC coat, thinking to myself of what I had to do to get there. I would have never guessed that four years later, I would soon be the girl behind the table introducing myself to patients as a second year pharmacy student at UNC. The funny thing is, I had just as many questions as a pharmacy student two days ago, as I did four years ago.

I realize now that just because the years go by and you get older, you may be getting a little wiser, but you will never know all the answers. Even though I had been certified to give immunizations didn’t mean that I was an expert at it. I still made a few mistakes and had instances when my vaccine dripped out of the syringe instead of being injected into the person or frantically tried to get the sticky band-aid off of my oversized gloves and onto the person. My time volunteering at the NC State Fair giving flu shots really helped me be more comfortable wearing the white coat and not just making mistakes, but owning up to them and fixing them.

At the end of my shift, I had vaccinated 29 people and actually felt like I was growing as a professional in pharmacy and giving back to my community. It felt great having people say, ‘she’s really good!’ or patting my back and thanking me when really I should be thanking them for letting me poke them with a needle! I thought back at the time when I thought pharmacists just drank coffee and counted by 5’s… I obviously didn’t know anything! Pharmacists are the friendly neighbors in the community where they are trusted by so many everyday; and every year people come back to the fair specifically to get their flu shots from us.

Student Perspective: My real-life application…

A blog post from Zafeira Sarrimanolis, Class of 2016.

Last weekend, I went to visit my grandmother and her huge greyhound, Victor.  After I told her a little about school, my life and gossiping about the rest of the family, she began telling me some stories – her favorite thing to do. She told me about how Victor had knocked over her favorite flower pot and broken it into a million pieces, how her grumpy neighbor had left an angry note in her mail box because a jug from her recycling bin had blown into his front yard, all about her favorite soap opera and about how dry and red her hands had been lately.  While all of her stories were interesting to me, she really caught my attention when she mentioned the skin condition of her hands. I immediately put on my lab coat, figuratively of course, and started asking her some questions.

My grandmother told me that she had not been using any new lotions or hand soaps lately, hadn’t worn any new gloves or mittens and hadn’t been doing any intense cleaning of her shower or kitchen with bleach. I’ll admit, I was a little stumped and kept looking at how dry, red and irritated her hands appeared.  My grandmother, of course, brushed it off saying everything was fine and brought me a piece of chocolate cake. While eating way too much, I remembered how much my grandmother loves to cook and bake.  Then, mid-bite, a light bulb went off and I started asking her about dish soaps she used when cooking and baking, because my grandmother HATES to use the dishwasher. She told me all about a new purple dish soap she had gotten about a week earlier in her favorite scent, and that she had been using it multiple times a day everyday. I nicely told her that this wonderful dish soap might, unfortunately, be to blame for the skin irritation she had recently been experiencing.  I advised her to stop using the new soap for a week and see if her hands got better or to use rubber gloves when cleaning dishes to avoid direct skin contact with the soap. I took her to the CVS up the street and helped her pick out a Eucerin Cream product that she would use a few times a day to help soothe her hands.

My grandmother was so thankful for the help and advice I was able to offer and promised to follow my recommendations, she even sent me home with another piece of chocolate cake!  While I have applied what I have studied in school at health fairs and blood pressure screenings through CAPS and other school organizations, this was the first time I had done so all by myself in an unorganized setting.  In this case, my grandmother was the patient who had a condition that she didn’t know the cause of and didn’t know how to treat.  I, as a pharmacy student and her granddaughter, was able to offer advice to help treat her condition and come up with a solution that would make her hands feel better and still allow her to do things she loved, like cooking and baking. This made me further appreciate what learn in school and also made me realize how important it is that I can actually apply something I have learned to a real life situation that helped a patient, in this case my very own grandmother!