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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

In Their Own Words: Timothy

(Note: I remember meeting Timmy when he was an undergrad student. He was in San Francisco one summer as part of UCSF's Summer Research Training Program and asked to meet with me to discuss the PharmD program. The pre-pharmacy student I met back then is the exact same 4th-year PharmD student I know today. Let me explain. As you can imagine, I meet a lot of pre-pharmacy students. Some end up entering our program. It can be both fascinating and frustrating how some present themselves as applicants versus how they carry themselves as students. Not so with Tim. His inquisitiveness, compassion, passion for social justice, and gratefulness for the opportunities that have been provided to him -- all characteristics I saw when he sat across the table and asked me thoughtful questions as a pre-pharmacy student -- are evident to this day. There are no illusions. There are no pretenses. With Timmy, every person who comes in contact with him gets the benefit of the doubt. Really. It was a no-brainer to have Timothy serve on the Admissions Committee.)

Name: Timothy
Year: Class of 2015
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Previous institutions attended: University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
Undergraduate Major: General Biology

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
My motivation to be a member of the Admission Committee comes from being inspired by my classmates. Each person comes with experiences that have shaped him or her into a conscientious individual with a goal to advance care through pharmacy. Being an Admission Committee member allows me to participate in the process of selecting change-agents, while gaining a glimpse of future leaders in healthcare.

Reading applicant stories was exhilarating. It allowed me to learn about the world through the eyes of others. I gained perspectives that I would never have the opportunity to experience because of our unique differences. I am grateful to be a member of the Admissions Committee because it has expanded my horizons surrounding struggles and challenges that others face, and how pharmacy can contribute to improving them.

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
The amount of care that each applicant receives! For an applicant that is admitted, there are many individuals from the Admission Committee who review either the application or the interview. Since each spot in the entering class is highly valuable, we look at every detail of an applicant to build a community of the best and the brightest.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
The most common mistakes are grammatical errors and impassionate essays. Part of being trained as a pharmacist is to have an eye for detail. Misspelled words (especially if it’s your own name) hints at carelessness. Essay contents tell us about your ambition to become a leader in pharmacy. After reading many applications, it’s easy to determine which set of essays was given tremendous thought versus those written on a whim.

What stands out to you on an application?
Applications that leave me with a great impression are those that catch me off guard. They are bold in their academic preparation and involvement in organizations, creating experiences that allow them to expand their minds beyond the sciences. They take risks with their essays and bring them to life. Every word is meticulously chosen to convey their thoughts. At the end of reviewing their application, I feel as though I know them AND gained a unique perspective of the world.

What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
My pet peeve during an interview is when an applicant replies with answers they think I want to hear. It’s incredibly easy to detect insincerity. Just be yourself and speak with your own voice! We just want to get to know you.

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
A zest for knowledge is important! The PharmD program is rigorous and the addition of extracurricular activities can be trying for many students. Amidst the challenging classes, especially non-clinical ones, it’s important to realize that building a strong foundation is important to understanding the complexities of medications. Having a love for what’s taught will make your pharmacy journey exciting and memorable.

What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
Joel’s blog!! It was a great source of inspiration, information, and, at times, comic relief! I would also speak with pharmacy students at programs you’re interested in. We always enjoy speaking with prospective students. Students are really honest about the program, so you can get good insight on whether you think a program is a good fit for you.

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
Getting admitted into UCSF doesn’t mean you’ll only interact with UCSF affiliates. We are inherently part of San Francisco, and there are amazing individuals out there. The city attracts the best and the brightest in every field, so imagine all the wonderful people you’ll meet! So include researching the city on your to-do list

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
Of all questions, I think this one is on par with the human condition question. Perhaps it’s because I took risks on my application and wrote bold statements. Or maybe it’s because I made sure my essays reflected the real me: my past, personality, and ambitions. Only Joel knows

What do you do for fun?
I really like noodles, especially ramen. I’ve been trying to find some of the best Bay Area ramen restaurants! I also enjoy going to the gym. It’s my sanctuary where I can think, reflect, and tune out of the world for an hour. Also, I work out daily so I can eat whatever I want! 

(Note: Timothy is also profiled on our website.)

(To read all previous "In Their Own Words" profiles, click the "committee profiles" label link below!)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Helpful tip: Always save the course syllabus!

You may not always want to save textbooks or class notes from every college course you've ever completed -- but it's a good idea to save the syllabus! (And super-easy.) Just get a binder and as each course is completed, file the syllabus away!

On many occasions, prospective (and admitted students) have questions about a particular course and whether we will accept it towards fulfilling one of our prerequisite requirements. While a course description is readily available in your college's online course catalog, often times the brief description doesn't provide enough information. If needed, a detailed course syllabus will allow us to review specific course content -- thus being able to provide you with a quicker response.

Trust me, this will make your life that much easier! Rather than tracking down a syllabus from your past instructor, the academic department, or the university -- you can simply refer to your syllabus binder.  You can thank me later!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Decisions made, notifications sent...

All admissions decisions have been made and notifications sent by email. If you are an applicant for entry in Fall 2014, and have not received a decision notification, please contact our office. (Check your email spam folder first!)

To those who were offered admission: Congratulations! We look forward to spending the next four years with you.

To those on the waitlist: Hang in there. No one can predict the future.

To those not offered admission: Knowing that not all applicants will be admitted is one of the hardest parts of the whole admissions process. We are not lost on that fact. Do not let this decision prevent you from pursuing your dreams and goals. Forge ahead.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

We love cookies, but....

(This article appeared in the New York Times last spring. It recently came across my desk and I thought it was a fascinating read. Although, it focuses on the undergraduate-level, it's applicable to the graduate-level, too. I'm thankful that we rank our waitlist from the very beginning. This eliminates the need for students on our wait-list to "re-compete" for admission or to feel as though they need to position themselves in a way that will improve their chances for being admitted -- over others on the wait-list. The admissions process is tough enough -- we certainly wouldn't want students to go through another process just to get off the wait-list. Despite sharing this information with students on our waitlist, every year we receive additional documents -- such as letters of recommendation -- in hopes that it will help them get admitted. It doesn't. Our list is ranked and wait-listed students know their position on a very regular basis.)

On a College Waiting List? Sending Cookies Isn’t Going to Help
By ARIEL KAMINER, The New York Times
May 11, 2013

When Amanda Wolfbauer, a high school senior, received the admissions verdict from Hamilton College, in Clinton, N.Y., she posted on Twitter, “What does one do once they’re on a college waitlist? #frustrated #worsethanrejection.”

A few minutes later she had gone from dejected to dogged: “Well, @HamiltonAdmssn prepare to be dazzled, because I’m determined to get off that waitlist.”

Since then, Ms. Wolfbauer, of Carver, Minn., says she has written the admissions department to tell it “how much I want to go there and why Hamilton has been my No. 1 choice since the beginning of my college search”; she sent in “a lot of high school projects,” including one that won a statewide competition; and last weekend she started filming a video with friends — teachers to be added later — “basically telling them how awesome I am, talking about the positive qualities I have and why Hamilton should accept me.”

Does she ever worry it might be too much? “I more worry that I’m not doing enough,” she said.

Especially not while other students on waiting lists are bombarding their dream schools with baked goods, family photos, craft projects depicting campus landmarks and dossiers of testimonials from civic and religious leaders, to name just a few come-ons that admissions offices have seen over the past month.

For most applicants to selective colleges, the letters that arrived by April 1 brought an end to months of anxious wondering. But for some small fraction of those students, the tension is only now reaching its apex. They were assigned not to the relief of the yes pile, or the decisiveness of the no pile, but to the slender median of the maybe, with no idea how their application will be resolved, or even when.

The schools generally ask those students to send word of whether they wish to stay on the waiting list or want to be removed from consideration.

“We encourage wait-listed students who remain very interested in Columbia to send a brief letter affirming that interest and updating us on their senior year,” said Jessica Marinaccio, Columbia University’s dean of undergraduate admissions, “and discourage them from sending extra letters of recommendation or other supplementary materials.”

Given the high stakes and the opaque proceedings, however, some students just cannot hold back.

Admissions officers describe the dynamic in terms that sound like dating: hopeful students are trying to express their interest without coming off like a stalker, while colleges are trying to figure out whether the students are courting other institutions on the side.

“Last year, I had a girl who wrote to me every day,” recalled Monica Inzer, Hamilton’s dean of admissions. “She’d send me e-mails; she’d send me letters; she had alums write to me. We all knew that this girl wanted us more than anyone else.”

When a total of three spots in the freshman class opened up, that eager young woman was the first person Ms. Inzer called. “She said, ‘Eh, I’m going someplace else.’ ”

Another applicant eagerly informed Ann Fleming Brown, the director of admissions at Union College, in Schenectady, N.Y., that the college was her first choice — or had become that when her true first choice, Bowdoin, rejected her. It is just one of the many ways, Ms. Brown and her colleagues at other schools say, that students on the waiting list have shot themselves in the foot in recent years.

They have insulted the college’s judgment or taste. They have disparaged classmates who already got in. They have threatened to go over the admissions officer’s head. Showing up and demanding an interview is inadvisable. Showing up with a camping tent, even more so.

And parents are often part of the problem. “There’s a mother who e-mails me every third day — they must have timers on these things,” Ms. Brown said. “There’s one parent who calls up and yells at me: ‘I can’t believe this happened! This is a horrible thing!’ And then he calls 10 minutes later and says, ‘I’m sorry.’ Then he calls and says, ‘I know you don’t like me. I’m being a complete pest.’ ”

To cut down on behavior like that, says David Borus, dean of admissions at Vassar College, “We are very explicit in the communications we send out about what’s going to help you and what’s not going to help you, and we make it pretty clear that if you do do some of this stuff, you’re just going to tick us off.”

What works? Generally, communications that are informed and mature.

“What most students will do is write, ‘I love you I love you I love you,’ ” said Michael Motto, a former assistant dean of admissions at Yale University who now works as a private educational consultant in New York. “While those notes are charming and flattering and warm, these are academic institutions.”

Letters that indicate a deep interest in the college’s scholarly offerings, he and others said, probably go further. (The cookies that a wait-listed applicant to Yale once sent in — spelling out Mr. Motto’s name and employer — did not do the trick.)

No matter what approach students take, there is no way to predict how many seats will become available before the fall semester begins. Right now, schools are counting up how many accepted students have decided to enroll. (Even that number is only a conditional answer, since those committed students could still get word that their first-choice school has plucked them off its waiting list, leaving an opening for a student on the second-choice school’s waiting list.)

Trinity College, in Hartford, Conn., which offers several hundred students a spot on its waiting list, eventually accepted around 30 of them last year. The year before, that number was zero. And the year before that, it was more than 100. At present, Hamilton, the school Ms. Wolfbauer has been trying to impress, does not anticipate taking anyone off the waiting list, though that could change as the months go on.

Given that uncertainty, Ms. Inzer says, “I encourage families to treat a wait list offer a little bit like a lottery ticket — if it comes through and you win, everything’s great, but you don’t plan on it.”

Inevitably, some families will ask about buying their way off the waiting list. At Ms. Inzer’s former employer, Babson College, in Wellesley, Mass., she said one parent went so far as to open a checkbook and ask, “What’s it going to take?”

According to Mr. Motto, at a time when top academic institutions now receive nine-figure donations, there is little point in even asking those questions.

“All parents say they know someone who’s made a contribution” that has turned a spot on the waiting list into a spot in the freshman class, he said. “Has it happened in some instances? I’m sure it has,” but, he added, “I think a lot of it is rumor.”

Which may be why some people turn to other sorts of currencies. During his time at Yale, Mr. Motto said, “Some parent called and offered to buy me two pizzas every week for a year if I admitted the person’s child.” (No one got off the waiting list that year.)

An entreaty that Ms. Brown received last month, from a father of a student on Union’s waiting list, may just top them all. “I was offered free rotator cuff surgery,” she said. “Or, alternately, carpal tunnel surgery. I said, Unfortunately I do not need either surgery. And he said, But you will.”

After Amanda Wolfbauer was put on the waiting
list at Hamilton College, she sent a letter and video
testimonials to the school.
(photo: Ben Garvin for The New York Times)

UCSF, Walgreens open pharmacy to jointly explore new models of care

(It's a very quiet Sunday morning. I'm drinking coffee and trying to catch up on sharing items on this blog. I know news items about UCSF's new pharmacy have been posted on many different sites already, but I also wanted to include them here. There are several different articles that highlight this terrific partnership -- UCSF + Walgreens -- and I hope to eventually post most of them. For those that aren't able to visit in-person, I hope the blog posts provide insight into this innovative model of pharmacy.)

A unique new pharmacy developed to explore more effective models of medication management and pharmacist-based patient care, improving drug safety and efficacy by reducing medication errors and lapses, officially opened with a ribbon cutting on the Parnassus campus on Tuesday.

“Walgreens at UCSF,” located across the street from UCSF Medical Center, is a joint effort between the nation’s largest drug store chain, the UCSF School of Pharmacy, and the Medical Center.

Designed to foster increased patient-pharmacist interaction, the store includes multiple areas for private consultations. Pharmacists from both UCSF and Walgreens will jointly staff the pharmacy. It will also serve as a training facility for UCSF student pharmacists during the experiential portion of their doctoral degree program and as a clinical training site for pharmacy residents.

“This collaboration aims to transform the practice of community pharmacists to enable pharmacists to do what they’re trained to do, which is helping patients manage their health with the right medications and understand how to take them correctly,” said School of Pharmacy Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD.
(Left to right) B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, dean,
UCSF School of Pharmacy; Duane Hansen, vice
president - national accounts, Walgreens; Susan
Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, chancellor, UCSF.
Image: © Elisabeth Fall

Among the new pharmacy’s goals will be to ensure that there is a proper hand-off and coordination of medication information when patients are discharged from the hospital, preventing lapses or misuse that can cause medically and economically costly readmissions.

“By creating this three-way collaboration, we hope to create a national model for eliminating medication-related readmissions and reducing medication errors,” said Daniel Wandres, PharmD, chief pharmacy officer of the UCSF Medical Center.

(Left to right) Daniel Wandres, UCSF Medical
Center; Meen Kang, Walgreens; Bill Hose,
Walgreens; Mark Laret, UCSF Medical Center;
Susan Desmond-Hellmann, UCSF; B. Joseph
Guglielmo, UCSF School of Pharmacy;
Myra Pascua, Walgreens; Joel Wright, Walgreens.
Image: © Elisabeth Fall

The pharmacy will also routinely provide customers receiving prescriptions with comprehensive medication counseling. This will include the creation and review of complete, accurate, and portable medication lists, to help decrease drug-drug interactions and encourage patient adherence with their regimens. This health care service was demonstrated during Tuesday’s opening with a “MedList” clinic provided free to the public by UCSF pharmacists at the nearby Millberry Union Gym.

Source: UCSF Pharmacy News, originally published Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Home stretch...

Feels good to be nearing the end of another admissions cycle. It seems like the interviews were so long ago -- in reality, it's been only about four weeks.

I've gotten a several calls this week about our notifications being sent out -- which made me think about a blog post I wrote a few years ago that addressed admissions decisions.

Perhaps I should do another to keep the information fresh, yah? (I think last time I wrote on this topic, we sent notifications out via hard copy -- so there's definitely some updates since then!) So, in the style of a Q&A (my favorite), here goes:

How are notifications sent out?

Have you sent admission offers out yet?

Have you sent all admission offers out yet?

Have you sent deny notifications out yet?

Have you sent all deny notifications out yet?

Are you behind?
Absolutely not! We are right on track. (In fact, I was able to listen to -- while working, of course -- a few NCAA tournament games today. Normally, I can't have that kind of noise/distraction in the background... but since we are so ahead-of-schedule, our staff/office has been quite chill this week.)

When will all applicants be notified?
By April 1. If you haven't heard back from us by then, definitely contact us! (Make sure you are checking your email spam folder. With the words "pharmacy", many emails are directed to spam folders.)

Is there a certain day of the week notifications are sent?
No. It's totally random. There are lots of other things we juggle -- meetings, presentations, other responsibilities, etc.

Is there a certain time of the day notifications are sent?No. Again, it's totally random.

If someone is offered admission, does that person's acceptance/decline affect another person's admission offer?
No. (Only in the case of the wait-list will that occur, which happens after all candidates are notified of their status. In other words, we do not wait to hear whether an offer is accepted before making another offer.

Do you have rolling admissions?

If someone is offered admission somewhere else, does that affect their admission offer with UCSF?

Will notifications be sent out during spring recess?
Spring recess? What's that?  Ha! We do not get a spring break. We will be working. (But I do get a kick out of students asking "How was your spring break? What did you do?"  Uh, worked....!) Yes, we will continue with sending out notifications on "spring recess."

What is your opinion on sending thank-you notes following an interview? Is there a preference for hard-copy vs. electronic notes?
I recently participated on a panel with other pharmacy school directors and this was one of the questions asked. We all had VERY DIFFERENT responses. I'd like to use this topic as a blog post topic in the near future. I think it's an interesting question and I'd like to provide more insight and thoughtful response than here.

Would you be willing to entertain us with some more blog entries/picture posts in the coming days? Like musings on this year's admissions cycle! We do miss your updates.

Thanks for the feedback. My posts have been limited since the fall. November through March is a very busy time. I hope to get back in the blog-game in the coming weeks.

If there's something I'm missing, let me know! I'd love to add it to this list.

Finally in the spirit of March Madness, what anti-anxiety medication do you suggest?  I'm stressed that my brackets are already falling apart and it's only the first round. Grrrrrr....Ugh!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pharmacy Information Days -- start making plans now!

Really?!?! Already?!?! Yes, indeed! 

Our spring 2014 Pharmacy Information Days have been scheduled and are right around the corner.

I've blogged about this event in the past. It's a good read. Check it out here!

You don't want to be left on the side of the road this spring. Join us for one of these exciting (and information-filled) days.  To learn more about UCSF's Pharmacy Information Days (and register to attend), visit our Pharm Info Day website!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014
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