UC Davis Pre-Health Conference

uc-davis

We will be attending the Pre-Health Conference Saturday, October 8, 2016, on the UC Davis campus. This is always a great event with 3,000+ students and over 70 pharmacy schools attending. If you’re planning to attend, please stop by our table and say hi!

Registration and more information about the event can be found here: http://prehealthconference.ucdavis.edu/index.html

 

 

Getting ready for pharmacy school when you’re in high school

One of my favorite questions to ask current students is: when did you get interested in pharmacy as a career? The answers always vary; some students decided on pharmacy in college, whereas others knew as early as middle or high school that pharmacy was the right field for them. If you’re in high school and thinking about pharmacy as a career, that’s great! You’re ahead of the game and have plenty of time to prepare for pharmacy school. Here are some things to focus on now:

  • Take advanced coursework in math and science. If your school offers Honors, AP, IB, or dual enrollment classes, challenge yourself to take hard classes (and do well in them). Taking advanced courses in high school will prepare you for our prerequisite courses and ultimately our curriculum.
  • Talk to your pharmacist; shadow if possible. Anytime you or your family has to go to the doctor or pharmacy, make an effort to talk with the pharmacist. If you let them know that you’re interested in pharmacy as a career, I’m sure they would be happy to talk with you. Depending on the pharmacy, you might be able to set up a time to ask the pharmacist questions about their career or shadow them.
  • Find a passion. What do you like to do with your free time? Are you involved in extracurricular organizations, community service, a sports team, or a music ensemble? Finding a meaningful way to spend your time outside of school will make you more well-rounded. Your passion doesn’t have to be science or pharmacy as a high school student (but that’s great if it is!).
  • Develop strong communication skills. Pharmacists have to be strong in math and science, but they also have to be strong writers, speakers, and overall communicators. Every day, pharmacists talk with patients and health care team members including other pharmacists, doctors, and nurses. Focus on your writing and speaking skills now, and it will help you in the future.

 

 

The fast track or the traditional track – Part 3

The PharmD program is unique in that applicants do not need to have completed a bachelor’s degree before starting. Approximately 20% of each incoming class does not hold a bachelor’s degree. They enter the PharmD program after 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study – however long it takes to complete the prerequisite coursework.

One of the most common questions we get is in regards to whether an applicant should complete their bachelor’s degree or forgo their bachelor’s and apply early. This is a challenging question, because there is no clear cut answer! Two weeks ago, I wrote about the benefits to being on the fast track, and last week I wrote about the benefits of being on the traditional track. This week, I’m wrapping up this series with some final thoughts.


Ultimately, whether you decide to finish your bachelor’s degree or not before starting pharmacy school is a very personal and difficult choice. There are many factors to consider when making the decision, and the decision might be different for each student. While we certainly see more students starting our program after completing their bachelor’s degree, we have many successful students who complete their prerequisite courses in 2-3 years, and are ready to enter our program afterwards. Whether you’re thinking of taking the fast track or the traditional track, we hope that you take the time to consider the benefits to each side. Which route is the best one for you?

The fast track or the traditional track – Part 1

The PharmD program is unique in that applicants do not need to have completed a bachelor’s degree before starting. Approximately 20% of each incoming class does not hold a bachelor’s degree. They enter the PharmD program after 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study – however long it takes to complete the prerequisite coursework.

One of the most common questions we get is in regards to whether an applicant should complete their bachelor’s degree or forgo their bachelor’s and apply early. This is a challenging question, because there is no clear cut answer! Here are some things to consider if you’re trying to make the decision whether or not to complete your bachelor’s degree. This week I’ll post some of the benefits to finishing your undergraduate work on the fast track, and next week I’ll follow up with the benefits to finishing your bachelor’s degree (the traditional track).


Benefits to completing your prerequisite courses in 2-3 years (the Fast Track):

  • Some students finish high school with AP or IB credits or dual enrollment courses which transfer in as credit to their undergraduate institution. They might test out of a course altogether, or receive placement into a higher level course. This enables them to start college with enough credits to complete the prerequisite classes in less time.
  • If you know that pharmacy is right path for you, you will likely want to get to the PharmD program as quickly as possible, because those are the classes you’re going to be most interested in. Rather than taking an extra year of coursework at the undergraduate level just to fulfill degree requirements, you want to pursue your passion as quickly as possible.
  • The cost of pursuing a bachelor’s degree and a PharmD degree can be huge. Students looking to lower their debt post-graduation might choose to finish their undergrad studies early in order to save money.
  • If you’re able to demonstrate that you’re a competitive applicant already – strong academically, well-rounded, mature – and are ready to enter a rigorous PharmD program, then what do you have to lose by applying early? If you feel that one more year of undergraduate work is not going to make you more competitive or more ready for pharmacy school, then you might benefit from applying early.

 

 

 

Student Perspective: Position Yourself for Success

A blog post from Hannah Carr, Class of 2016.

Two Saturdays ago, I attended the Position Yourself for Success Program.  Several potential students came to learn how to prepare themselves to be the best candidates for pharmacy school.  They listened to speakers and participated in a case discussion.  I ate lunch with three of these students and was quite impressed with their diverse backgrounds.  As someone who is admittedly committed to the path of community pharmacy, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of their interests in industry and hospital pharmacy.  I answered questions about the application process, class difficulty, and possible career opportunities for pharmacists.  After our lunch and “Q and A” session, I led a brief tour around the two pharmacy buildings (Kerr Hall and Beard Hall).  These are the “home” of every student who attends the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.  We peeked into the corridors of Kerr Hall to the Department of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy and the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics.  Several of our acclaimed faculty have offices in these areas.  Then we looked in on the student lounge area and pharmaceutical laboratories in Beard Hall.  This building is where we have our weekly lab meetings and where our administrative faculty is located. Hopefully, now, these potential students have a general feel for the life of a student pharmacist and they feel better prepared applying to pharmacy school.  My goal at these types of events is to be a resource for potential students the way others were for me.  And, overall, I felt the day was a success for both the potential students and myself.

Student Perspective: A Unique Perspective – what major is right for you?

A blog post from J. Carrington, Class of 2016.

Many prospective students want to know what they should study in their undergraduate course work to prepare for pharmacy school. You may be wondering, “Will my future pharmacy school only consider me if I was a biology or chemistry major? Do I have to declare “Pre-Pharmacy”? Should I even get a bachelors degree?”

Here is my story and humble opinion on the matter.

As a senior in high school thinking about my future career in pharmacy, the first step was deciding what I want my major to be. I was a 4-H agriculture program kid, horse enthusiast and knew I was going to Virginia Tech – a wonderful university with a great agriculture school in Virginia.

Upon my acceptance to Virginia Tech, I considered pharmacy as a career path due to my love of science and desire to help people. The conflict was what to study. My dream major was Animal and Poultry Science, a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Science that focused in animal production and science. I was sold on this major ever since going to Virginia Tech for youth horse judging and 4-H events.

Upon evaluating the Animal and Poultry Science curriculum further, I saw that the course work required for this degree matched very well to what is expected for pharmacy school. It also had courses focusing on practical hands-on skills and the opportunity for research projects. I customized my curriculum to be great balance of my passion for agriculture and rigorous science based classes. I took the normal Organic Chemistry and biochemistry, but I also got to take Animal Breeding and Genetics, Physiology of Reproduction and Embryology. I also got to take fun classes like Livestock Marketing along with Equine Biomechanics and Horse Production. All of these classes together gave me a unique perspective and was a great conversation starter at interviews.

Most majors will cover the core requirements needed for acceptance in pharmacy school and are flexible enough to allow you to take extra courses that may be needed like Organic Chemistry or Human Anatomy and Physiology. I loved every minute at Virginia Tech and truly got to study something that I love. The background and unique perspective I gained as an Animal Science student helped me in pharmacy school.

The number one goal: Study something you love! Don’t worry if it isn’t biochemistry or medical science. If you enjoy it do it! I have many classmates with degrees in Art, History, and even foreign languages. They are all in pharmacy school and successful in the rigorous coursework. My advice is to enjoy your undergraduate experience regardless of what you study or if you get a degree. The memories you make in your undergraduate career last a lifetime. Get a good science foundation but don’t forget to take something completely different because you never know the experiences it will give you!

Being A Competitive Applicant

Students often ask – how can I become a more competitive applicant? This is a tricky question – as there isn’t an exact answer. We aren’t looking for a checklist of things in your application which you can complete, and not every admitted student has the same profile or background. Ultimately, we’re trying to build a class of diverse, well-rounded students, who are passionate about pharmacy and want to be leaders in the profession. We review each application holistically, which means we look at the entire application and interview performance when making an admissions decision. Successful students in our program are not only academically qualified, but well-rounded students outside the classroom. We look at your academic performance in prerequisite courses, PCAT scores, extracurricular involvement, work experience, leadership experience, examples of undergraduate or professional research, pharmacy or health-care experience, and how you did in the interview process when making a decision.

So, how can you be a more competitive applicant?

First, have a strong academic record. Aim for A’s and B’s in prereq classes. Study for the PCAT, and aim to get at least a 70 on the composite score, and at least a 50 on the subsections. Our average accepted student composite score was an 87 last year.

Be a well rounded student. What are your interests outside the classroom? Are you involved in a club, organization, or community service activity? Do you have a part-time job? Are you a leader in your job or organization? In terms of your involvement outside the classroom, quality over quantity. It’s better to be highly involved in fewer organizations, and to become a leader in one of those organizations, rather than being involved in lots of organizations with little commitment.

Take the time to explore healthcare and the pharmacy profession. If you have the opportunity to shadow a pharmacist, or volunteer in a clinic or hospital, do it! You’ll be better prepared to write your personal statement if you’ve seen a pharmacist in action, and understand the pharmacist’s role in healthcare.

Much of our curriculum requires high level critical and innovative thinking. We recommend students get involved in research or an experience that requires innovation or entrepreneurship in their undergraduate years to prepare them. Learning to look at a problem critically, developing an argument or solution to that problem, and testing that solution will be a process you utilize frequently in our PharmD program.

We look at all of these factors when reviewing your application to make an admissions decision. Ultimately, we want to make sure you’ll be academically prepared and a good fit for our program.

Student Perspective: Expanding Life Beyond Pharmacy

A blog post from Alvin Ong, Class of 2017.

As a former UNC undergrad, I was blessed with the opportunity of being a part of something bigger than just a school. While the academics undoubtedly challenged me to my breaking point at times, UNC taught me so much more than just school work and as a result, I am a better man for it. From the moment I stepped foot on campus, the myriad of student organizations available was astounding. I was mesmerized with the students as their passion and enthusiasm really stood out. Since I was young, I never undertook leadership opportunities, instead simply focusing all my energy on school. For once, I was challenged to undertake a different responsibility all the while maintaining a high enough GPA to be considered for UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. I took my responsibilities seriously, accepting a position as Vice President of Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity and decided to coach basketball for 1st to 3rd graders for the Chapel Hill Recreation Center. Now as I look back on my time spent worrying over tests, I realize how meaningless it all is. The true measure of my growth wasn’t based on my test grades, rather I believe I have grown more than ever through my community and leadership experiences. I have learned the value of time management, organization, public speaking, working with a diverse group of people, and plenty more. These are the values that I cherish today and one that has better shaped me to the person I am today. Now that I am a PY1 in this professional program, I feel like I am better prepared than I would have been had I not stepped outside of my comfort zone and undertaken new challenges besides school. I am able to use the leadership experiences I have learned in undergrad as a stepping stone for future opportunities. Even with the increasing course load we experience as pharmacy students, I implore people to continue to get involved, not only within pharmacy school but outside of it as well. Pharmacy is, no doubt, a great career with many opportunities available, but it doesn’t mean we should limit ourselves to one field. Keep up with your hobbies, don’t let pharmacy take over your life. I coach today even though I’ve developed a few grey hairs due to pharmacy school. I use it to de-stress myself, a way to remove myself from the everyday hustle and bustle of class, meetings, and more. It is important we are able to see the bigger picture; UNC and the neighboring communities provide us with so many opportunities that it would be a shame if we didn’t take advantage of them. Use them to your advantage and only then will u maximize your time here not only at pharmacy school, but all of UNC as a whole.

Student Perspective: The Transition from Undergrad to Professional School

A blog post from Erica Earnhardt, Class of 2017.

Many students want to know the difference between undergraduate versus professional school. “Will I have any free time?  Will I be able to balance my social life with school?”

 

From what I have learned over the past year, is that there is definitely a difference between your undergraduate and pharmacy course work.  When I was in undergrad, I had a lot more free time on my hands.  I had hours between classes to do work, go to the gym, hang out with friends, etc.  When I started pharmacy school, it took me a while to transition to an 8am-4pm day full of classes and meetings.  It helps to understand that you have to look at pharmacy school like a job.  You are going to have classes straight from 8am to lunch, with an hour break, then afternoon classes that can last till 3pm.  Some days that hour lunch will be a time to have organization meetings.  I was not able to leave campus after my morning classes and come back for an afternoon class like I did in undergrad.  Don’t let this scare you.  It might seem like a long day, but it is something you can easily become accustomed to.

 

Though pharmacy school may seem like much, there will be times that you will have time for yourself.  Whether this is relieving stress by going to the gym, or giving yourself a couple hours to do things that you enjoy and help you relax.  Take a walk; go out to dinner with friends.  These are all things that you can do to balance your professional life with your personal life.  It is important to still have fun and not let school overwhelm what is valuable in your life.  Pharmacy school may seem like a big transition, but with time management you can easily handle your professional life and enjoy your time over the next few years!