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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How are interview dates assigned? (Is there a ranking system?)

Yes, interviews are scheduled based on ranking. The best applicants are scheduled on the first interview day. The worst applicants are scheduled on the last interview day.

Just kidding.

We actually schedule the interviews based on who has the highest GPA.

Just kidding, again.

Interviews are scheduled based on the responses to the "human condition" question. Interesting essay responses get priority in the interview process.

Again, just kidding.

Ok..... seriously....  It's fascinating to think there are theories as to how these interviews are scheduled. (It kind of makes me sad that some applicants become obsessed with trying to figure out what every little detail means -- instead of using that precious time to actually prepare for the interviews.)  It's odd that some people don't realize that this is a multi-day process. Someone will always be first, someone will always be last. I sometimes think that those who are so afraid to go last lack the self-confidence to actually do well in an interview. They've already doomed themselves before stepping foot onto campus. I believe that if you are comfortable, confident and well-prepared, it doesn't even matter when you are interviewing. I think of our amazing current students and say to myself "It doesn't matter if they would have interviewed morning or afternoon, Thursday or Friday or Saturday, first or last...."  For every ten people who tell you it's better to interview first, there will be ten people who will tell you it's better to interview last. Let it go. Prepare for the interviews and don't let outside distractions veer you off course.

Hopefully, this post will put to rest all the speculation as to how the interviews are scheduled. In a nutshell (because it's really nothing more than a nutshell) here goes:
  • We have five interview days -- one Saturday, one Thursday, and three Fridays.
  • Towards the end of December, when we have narrowed our applicant pool down considerably (and determined the names of many who will be invited to interview), we do a data export.
  • The data that is exported is simply "Applicant's CURRENT city".
  • To be respectful of travel issues, we TRY to schedule most of our out-of-state applicants on Saturday. Not always, but mostly.
  • For the Thursday interview, we try to schedule as many "San Franciscans" as we can. Not always, but mostly.
  • Once we have many of the interview slots on those two days filled, we simply start filling in the remaining interview slots for the three Fridays -- sometimes in alpha-order (because that's how the list is printed) but not always. If we have x-number of spots and x-number of applicants, we just fill in the little boxes on the Excel sheet. LOL!  Yes, it's THAT simple!
And because I'm obsessed with FAQs..... 
  1. Are there some out-of-state applicants interviewing on other days besides Saturday? Yes. We try to do our best given the interview limitations we have.
  2. Will there be some California residents interviewing on Saturday? Yes. We try to do our best given the interview limitations we have.
  3. Will some San Francisco residents interview on other days? Yes. We try to do our best given the interview limitations we have.  
  4. Will there be non-SF residents interviewing on Thursday? Yes. We try to do our best given the interview limitations we have.
  5. Will the date an application was submitted have any bearing on when they are scheduled to interview? No.
  6. If I'm scheduled to interview on the last day, does that mean I have a lesser chance of being admitted? No. If an applicant is a good fit for our program, it doesn't matter what day they interview. A good fit is a good fit.
  7. What if my file hasn't been reviewed yet, is it too late? Nope. We will still schedule a spot for you -- likely on a Friday. But could be a Thursday. Or even on a Saturday.
  8. Am I more likely to get admitted if I interview on the first day rather than the last day? That's crazy. You're obsessing over stuff we don't even think about.
  9. Can I request what day I want to interview? No. Interviews are preassigned. Please refer to your interview invitation for more information. 
  10. I just can't stop obsessing over the meaning of why I was scheduled to interview on a certain day. What can I do to take my mind off of this? Send me a personal email and I will provide you with at least two things you can do with your time -- which is guaranteed to be better spent. Seriously, I will do this! Just send me an email. =)
I think that pretty much answers everything. What did I miss?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Admission Status Updates: The good, the bad, and everything in-between....

As many of you have now noticed, we are sending our notifications out via email.

The good:
Today we sent several hundred interview invitations out via email. Congratulations to those who have been invited. We look forward to meeting you in 2012.

The bad:
Unfortunately, we also sent out many hundreds of denial letters. I hate sending these out -- especially at this time of year. But our goal is to notify applicants as soon as possible so that personal decisions can be made on your part. We know people are anxious to be notified of their status with our program so we'd rather not delay these emails any longer.

The in-between:
We still have work to do! Unfortunately, we weren't able to review ALL the applications we received. Although about 95% of the applications have been reviewed and applicants have been notified, that leaves about 5% who will have to wait until the new year. We'd rather not rush this process, but instead want to review these remaining files when we return after the winter break.  Some of these unreviewed files will be invited to interview, some will not. We won't know that until we've reviewed them. There's no rhyme or reason as to why certain files have been reviewed already and specific files have yet to be reviewed. We simply ran out of time. (But we also let applicants know that we may be reviewing files until the end of January -- Ahhh... breathing room!)

So.... be patient. (Oh, and be sure and check your spam email folder.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"Because it rocks..."

First, I love this video -- it cracks me up! I feel it definitely captures the personality and energy of our students.

I had an insider's look at the production of this video and realized the time/effort that goes into creating something like this. It is quite extensive. In total,  about six hours of footage existed -- which had to be edited down to seven minutes. I admire Shirin (in our office) and the filmmaker for being able to do this -- as my version would have been no less than three hours in length!  You'll recognize some of the faces from the previous video. (And don't miss the outtakes at the very end! Too funny!)

I'd love to hear your feedback on this video, too!

"Pharmacy & Me: Student Voices"

Interesting educational video of current UCSF Student Pharmacists sharing how they became interested in pharmacy, what it is like studying in the PharmD program here, and where they want to take their careers. It's a bit dry... but a definite "must see" for anyone considering applying to UCSF.

I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section below!

Dear Joel, If we are invited to an interview, will we be able to choose from a few interview dates? Or will we already be assigned an interview date that we cannot reschedule? Thank you for your time.

We assign interview dates. Applicants do not choose. Information on rescheduling to a different date (than the one we assign) is provided to those that are invited to interview.

Ask me anything

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Application Deadline - Today!

Just so we are clear (and on the same page)....

From our application instructions....
"If you don’t submit your supplemental application by this deadline (November 1), your application to UCSF will be canceled. Technical difficulties of any kind—including those with your computer, your internet connection, the internet, or any network—will not exempt you from this deadline. We anticipate heavy website usage from October 24 to November 1 and recommend that you consider the possibility of technical difficulties when submitting your application. By default, a subtle countdown timer appears in the left sidebar. Hover your pointer over the timer to view it fully. To hide or show this timer, edit your settings in My Account."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is it considered plagiarism if our supplemental essay for UCSF is nearly the same one we use for a supplemental essay at another school?

1. The definition of plagiarize (according to Merriam-Webster) is "to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own; use (another's production) without crediting the source."

2. Are the essay question/prompts so similar that you can use the same answer? Hmmm....

Monday, October 10, 2011

How should the supplement essay differ from the PharmCAS personal essay?

The prompts/questions on the supplemental application are COMPLETELY different than the PharmCAS personal essay prompt, so naturally the responses should be COMPLETELY different.

Ask me anything

Hello Joel, if a student's AP score appears on their official transcript, is it still necessary to mail in the AP scores?

If AP scores are being used to satisfy prerequisite requirements, we will require official scores be sent from the College Board. HOWEVER, do not send them now! Only send the scores if you are admitted to our program.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Dear Joel, I was wondering if you recommend answering the optional essays on the supplemental application. If you do not answer them will that hurt your chances of receiving an interview?

Good question. When I started this blog back in 2008, I posted specifically about the "Statements of Educational Opportunity" portion of our application. What I blogged about then still holds true today. It would be easy for me to just cut/paste a link to that blog post here -- but I'd rather you go back and find it (because you might find some other interesting insight/posts/hints/treasures along the way!)

Ask me anything

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Honesty REALLY is the best policy!

Towards the end of the day last week, I was looking for a particular application and ended up getting sucked into a bunch of old files -- but not just any files -- these are "special files."

Unfortunately, not the good kind of "special"....

It's pretty fascinating to read through some of these files -- all sorts of crazy stuff appears. It used to be easier, I suppose, to falsify or alter documents (specifically transcripts); however, since the introduction of PharmCAS (and the transcript verification process), I don't reckon that happens anymore. [Off topic: I think that may have been the very first time I've ever used the word "reckon" in the written form. It sounds like cowboy talk. I am not a cowboy so I'm not sure what inspired its use.] These days, most of the falsified documents deal with inaccurate reporting of information or exaggerating experiences, hours and/or time lines. It's pretty easy for us to verify this stuff by making a few phone calls and putting pieces together.

Determining whether an applicant has used previously published text as part of their application is now a bit easier with PharmCAS' partnership with turnitin.com, which bills itself as "the global leader in addressing plagiarism." As per the PharmCAS Application Instructions:
Please be aware that your admission essay may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to Turnitin for Admissions for the detection of plagiarism duplication and other potential violations of the applicant code of conduct. All submitted essays and other materials will be included as source documents in the Turnitin for Admissions reference database solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of such documents.
This new addition to the process should prove to be quite interesting!

Every year, I get notified (several times) by PharmCAS that an applicant has violated the Applicant Code of Conduct -- which prevents them from applying to schools that participate in the PharmCAS application process. As we begin the new cycle, I spent some time reviewing the code and decided to share it below. The wording is pretty strong but given the high expectations of this profession, it's totally appropriate. 

What are your thoughts?

Applicant Code of Conduct  

Once admitted to a professional pharmacy program, students are considered to be members of the pharmacy profession and therefore bear the responsibility to adhere to the professional, ethical, and legal standards prescribed for the practice of pharmacy and their college or school of pharmacy. The ethical and legal responsibilities of student pharmacists are typically reviewed during orientation to the professional program and throughout the time the student is enrolled in school.  

Applicants to pharmacy schools, although not yet members of the profession, are likewise bound to legal and ethical standards of behavior during the admission process. Colleges and schools of pharmacy are encouraged to admit applicants with “a high level of professionalism or professional potential” *.     

The Applicant Code of Conduct provides an explicit statement of applicant responsibilities and expected standards of performance and behavior. Applicants must electronically sign a copy of the code of conduct, signifying that they have read and agree to accept the code’s provisions. It is drawn from the ethical principles of the Code of Ethics for Pharmacists.  

Misconduct, as defined in the Applicant Code of Conduct, and all forms of dishonesty, will not be tolerated in the application process. Colleges and schools of pharmacy will determine whether an applicant has violated the Code of Conduct and whether sanctions should be imposed.  Sanctions imposed by the institutions include, but are not limited to, revocation of application, or sharing information with admission committees about the applicant’s behavior.  Any applicant found to have violated the principles of conduct risks losing the privilege of applying to or entering the pharmacy profession. Conduct violations will be communicated to all schools and colleges of pharmacy in the U.S. as well as other health education associations.     

The following section describes the principles that are the foundation of the Applicant Code of Conduct. The discussion that accompanies each principle is not intended to provide an exhaustive list of all possible situations or examples that may be considered to be violations of the Code.     

As an applicant to the profession of pharmacy, I pledge to:  

Act with honesty and integrity throughout the admission process when interacting with school admissions officers, admission committees, and PharmCAS staff.  Integrity is an obligation that requires each applicant to provide information honestly. Applicants must not falsify information (for example, make a false claim to be an officer in an organization, falsify work experience, or provide altered transcripts). Applicants must also reveal information about previous legal offenses pertinent to admission to a professional program (for example, previous felony convictions or drug or alcohol offenses). An applicant should accurately represent herself or himself to staff and others during the admission process. It is inappropriate to contact admission staff to inquire about an application claiming to be someone else.  

Respect the knowledge, skills and values of those involved in the admission process, including the faculty and staff at schools or colleges of pharmacy and PharmCAS staff.  It is unacceptable for an applicant to disparage the competence, knowledge, qualifications, or services of faculty and staff involved in the admission process. It is inappropriate to imply in word, gesture, or deed that an application has been poorly managed or the applicant mistreated by a staff member without tangible evidence. Professional relations among all members of the admission committees at schools of pharmacy, PharmCAS staff and applicants should be marked with civility. Thus, slanderous comments, uncivil language and abusive behavior should be avoided, and each person should recognize and facilitate civil behavior among all involved in the application process.  

Respect the autonomy and dignity of fellow applicants, admission staff, college or school faculty, staff, and students, and anyone involved in the admission process.  The applicant should use the highest professional courtesy when interacting with fellow applicants, admission staff, college or school faculty, staff, and students, and anyone involved in the admission process. Offensive or threatening comments via e-mail or voice mail messages or any other form of verbal or nonverbal communication will not be tolerated.  Inappropriate behavior includes the use of language, gestures, or remarks with sexual overtones.  Applicants should maintain a neat and clean appearance, and dress in attire that is generally accepted as professional by faculty and staff during their interview and when meeting with anyone to discuss admission to a professional pharmacy program.  

Be responsible and accountable for my actions and personally manage and respond to all matters related to my application.  Applicants to the professional pharmacy degree program must demonstrate responsibility by taking ownership of all aspects related to the application process. Applicants are expected to review application materials from PharmCAS and schools and colleges to which they apply. It is the applicant’s responsibility to meet deadlines, provide information as requested, and follow the admission process for each school or college to which they apply. Applicants, not PharmCAS, are responsible for promptly correcting any errors or omissions identified in the applicant’s file.       

Applicants are expected to respond to constructive feedback from admission staff and faculty by appropriate modification of their behavior. If an applicant has a question about the pharmacy admissions process after exhausting all available online and printed resources, the applicant should contact the appropriate PharmCAS or pharmacy school admissions office directly for clarification. Staff will not discuss an application with an applicant’s parent, spouse, relative, friend, or employer regardless of who submits the fee payment. The PharmCAS fee payment does not relieve applicants of the obligation to properly submit all requested data and application materials by the deadline.      

Applicants who have not been accepted may consult admission staff to learn how they  may correct deficiencies in their application or academic performance or seek to learn more about admission criteria for schools to which they may apply, but should remain respectful of decisions made by those involved in the admission process.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Their Own Words: Margrit

(Editor's note:  This is the second of a multi-part series I'm titling "In Their Own Words". I'll start by highlighting student committee members and then perhaps introduce you to faculty members as time and space allows. In addition to getting to know a little about them, this will also give you insight into the admissions process. Hopefully, this will also allow you to put real faces/names behind what is often characterized as a mysterious and secret process. Students play a huge role in our annual admissions cycle, serving as full-fledged members of our committee. Students serve a two-year term during their 3rd and 4th years of the program. Many of the same qualities that got them into pharmacy school -- leadership, commitment, maturity, etc. -- are what landed them a spot on the admissions committee. If I had to describe Margrit in one word it would be ENERGETIC -- and yes, in all caps! She's been a valuable member of the committee and has assumed her responsibilities with great passion and dedication.)

Name: Margrit
Year: Class of 2012
Hometown: Harlingen, TX
Previous institutions attended: Carnegie-Mellon University (Bachelor of Science), Pace University (Master of Education)
Undergraduate Major: chemical engineering and biomedical engineering

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
I have a deep interest in all facets of education.  I used to teach before pharmacy school.  When I came to UCSF, I wanted to continue my practice in education somehow, so I got involved with the “architects” of our curriculum -- the Educational Policy Committee.  Naturally, the admissions process is not only essential, but also unique in education.  It’s not everyday that you get to shape the character of an entire class!  My favorite part of the process is putting a face to applications on interview day. 

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
I was pleasantly surprised of how holistic the entire process is.  We really want to get to know applicants.  It’s not all about numbers.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
I would say painting a picture of someone who they are not.  Nothing is more of a turn-off.  Many applicants assume they know what we want to hear, so they make up this perfect persona.  We can really see through that, especially on interview day. 

What stands out to you on an application?
I definitely look for unique life experiences.  In particular, I’m interested in those experiences that are meaningful and have influenced or shaped an applicant’s life. 

What is your pet peeve when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
I don’t like robotic interviews.  Some applicants can be so “rehearsed” that, before I finish the question, they are already answering!  I like to see someone be genuine and thoughtful in interviews.  I want to see a personality (but keep it professional).

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
Motivation to endure four years of school.  Dedication to do it well.  Determination to rise when you hit some walls.  Balance and fun, because it’s not all about books!  

What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
Get a taste of pharmacy and talk to current pharmacists practicing in different settings.  Know the profession and where it’s going.  Everything else will fall into place, regardless of where you study pharmacy.

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
You know yourself best, so make sure you have genuine reasons to become a pharmacist.  Trust me, it sounds simple, but those reasons may be the hardest to defend during an interview.  We want to be sure this is what you want. 

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
I think the Admissions Committee saw in me the potential to make unique contributions to my class, the school, and the profession. I am what you consider a career changer (atypical student).  I came to UCSF after three years of teaching in Harlem and France.  During those years, I gained valuable life and professional experience, where leadership is a must.  Perhaps, interviewers could appreciate my maturity and motivation to become a pharmacist.  My background in engineering, research, and teaching gave me skills that I could transfer to the pharmacy practice.  Most importantly, nothing can replace the passion and excitement I have for the things I choose to do, like pharmacy.

What do you do for fun?
I love to travel abroad during long breaks.  I love to eat different ethnic foods.  I love learning foreign languages.  I really enjoy watching films and documentaries, especially foreign films or those that are not your typical blockbusters (although, I like summer action films too).  

To read previous "In Their Own Words" postings, visit:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In Their Own Words: Caroline

(Editor's note:  I thought it would be a great idea to introduce you to members of our Admissions Committee via mini-profiles and Q&A sections. This is the first of a multi-part series I'm titling "In Their Own Words". I'll start by highlighting student committee members and then perhaps introduce you to faculty members as time and space allows. In addition to getting to know a little about them, this will also give you insight into the admissions process. Hopefully, this will also allow you to put real faces/names behind what is often characterized as a mysterious and secret process. Students play a huge role in our annual admissions cycle, serving as full-fledged members of our committee. Students serve a two-year term during their 3rd and 4th years of the program. Many of the same qualities that got them into pharmacy school -- leadership, commitment, maturity, etc. -- are what landed them a spot on the admissions committee. First up is Caroline. In admissions-talk, I would refer to her as the "total package." She possessed all the characteristics we look for in a successful applicant and was/is an ideal fit for UCSF. Caroline is a perfect representative of our community to help select future classes.)

Name: Caroline
Year: Class of 2012
Hometown: Pinole, CA
Previous institutions attended: UC San Diego (Bachelor’s degree); Mesa College (additional pre-requisite courses)
Undergraduate Major: molecular biology

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?  I applied to be a member of the committee so that I could have a chance to help choose the next generation of student pharmacists.  I hope to be a professor at UCSF someday, so I jumped at the chance to work with faculty and other students in this process.  I wanted to ensure that we are choosing top applicants who are a great fit for UCSF, not just because they got good grades in undergrad or want to attend because we’re ranked #1.

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?  How much time and effort goes into picking those 122 students!  It takes months of work, and many hours by faculty and students, not to mention Joel and Sammie in the Office of Student & Curricular Affairs (OSACA). We are really looking at the whole picture of the student.

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?  Saying what they think we want to hear in an interview.  Be yourself!  We want to know who YOU are, not who you are trying to be in an interview.  If you have an opinion that opposes what we are saying, we’re interested to hear your reasoning.  No one’s ever right 100% of the time, not even your interviewers!

What stands out to you on an application?  I love it when people have taken different classes in undergrad, besides the pharmacy pre-requisites.  I was a Molecular Biology major, which was probably the same as 99 other people in my class.  But I’ve met Graphic Design majors who are now in pharmacy school, and are doing really well academically!  There’s no need to follow the path that you think is “right.”  I think it’s great when students have interesting and diverse backgrounds.

What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)  Students who have great grades in English but then have typos or grammatical errors in their essays.  Or students who write really great essays in their application materials but bomb the on-site essay.  It’s really hard to know whether the student can communicate effectively in writing if there are so many inconsistencies.  And communication is key for pharmacists!

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program? Passion and drive.  This program is tough!  Some days you just want to crawl into bed and ignore all the leadership responsibilities you’ve taken on and studying that you have to do, because it’s overwhelming.  At the end of the day, if you’re not passionate about being a good pharmacist, it makes it really tough to get through this program. 

What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?  Practice interviewing with people you trust, and people who will give you honest feedback.  I practiced with one of my former bosses, and she gave me some really good feedback about my performance.  I think practicing in front of a mirror, or even just saying your answer to a question out loud, helps as well.  But don’t over-rehearse!  We don’t want to hear just memorized answers, we want to see you think on your feet as well. 

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?  Be yourself, and make sure you are passionate about pharmacy before you apply here.

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?  I feel like I was a very well rounded candidate.  I had worked as a pharmacy technician and I loved it, so I think that passion showed in my application essays.  I also had pretty decent grades (though nowhere near a 4.0!) and had worked in industry before being a pharmacy tech, so I had some research experience as well.  I had done my research on the pathways here, and was able to discuss my interest in the Pharmaceutical Sciences Pathway with my interviewers.

What do you do for fun?  I love exploring San Francisco.  Although I grew up in the East Bay, I had never spent much time in SF except for Union Square for holiday shopping excursions.  I really enjoy trying new restaurants, bars, and coffee shops with friends, or even just walking around a new neighborhood.  I once spent a whole afternoon walking around the Inner Richmond, and browsing through used books at Green Apple Books.  I also love walking through Golden Gate Park and going up in the DeYoung Museum tower for a great view of SF.  There is so much to do in this city!

Meet more students in our PharmD program by visiting our Student Profiles page! 

Seize the Day

Wow! I absolutely love this video.... 

A special congratulations to the PharmD Class of 2011! 

Celebrating Commencement 2011: 
UCSF Chancellor Advises Graduates to 
“Seize the Day”

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Usually, how many out-of-state students do you accept every year?

It ranges anywhere from 10-20% every year -- depending on how many out-of-state applications we receive. We can only select from those that apply! Our entering class mirrors our applicant pool.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Should the LORs come from people that know me longer or people that know me for a shorter time but have better articulation skills? Thanks!

You shouldn't have to sacrifice one for the other. Your letters should come from individuals who know you well AND can articulate that in a letter. A letter from someone that doesn't know you very well can't possibly be very detailed or provide helpful information to the Admissions Committee. A person that can't articulate themselves and address those areas being asked about (in the PharmCAS letter of recommendation) will probably not serve you well. Right? I addressed this issue in a previous post: http://pharmdadmissions.ucsf.edu/2008/09/are-letters-of-recommendation-really.html

Ask me anything

I took my physics and calculus pre-reqs in 2002. Do I need to repeat these courses for the current application?

No, you do not need to repeat them. We do not have an expiration date for prerequisite requirements.

Ask me anything

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reaching out with Outreach...

It's a busy day, today...

I'm in San Diego for the Southern California Pre-Pharmacy Symposium at UC San Diego -- I think it's the first of what will hopefully be an annual event!

Meanwhile, our Outreach Coordinator, Shirin, is at the 5th Annual Northern California Pre-Pharmacy Symposium at UC Berkeley.

It's important for us to be at these events and to make ourselves available for prospective pharmacy students and applicants. Knowing the challenges of applying to PharmD programs, hopefully our conversations will help alleviate some anxiety. =)

On a similar note (and a shameless plug), WE are hosting our final Spring 2011 Pharmacy Information Day in a few weeks.  We've already had terrific programs in Fresno and Los Angeles (well, Long Beach) and are looking forward to the San Francisco event.

There are a few spots left so I encourage you to register now!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Approximately how many people are waitlisted for UCSF?

It varies from year-to-year. Those people who are on the wait list will eventually know their rank, which is all that really matters (see previous posts about this.)

Ask me anything

Should I send in my AP scores if I reported it on PharmCAS but didn't use them to fulfill UCSF requirements?

Good question.

For AP scores, ONLY students who are offered admission (or a place on the wait list) should consider sending in AP scores.


If you are admitted (or on the wait list) AND you are using AP scores towards fulfilling prerequisite requirements, you must have those scores sent to our office.

If you are admitted (or on the wait list) AND you are NOT using AP scores towards fulfilling prerequisite requirements, you do NOT need to submit those scores.

Ask me anything

Friday, March 25, 2011

Once a person is accepted, how closely do they have to follow their planned courses exactly, or is it okay that they omit a non-prereq course?

VERY CLOSELY! Students are offered admission with the assumption that they will complete all In-Progress and/or Planned coursework as outlined on their PharmCAS and Supplemental Applications. Deviating from that plan without approval from our office is grounds for a potential re-review of the admissions file and, perhaps, revoking the offer of admission. Admitted students are provided with instructions on how to request an approval for course changes or drops.

One cannot have a great plan, get admitted, then drop the plan!

Ask me anything

Are you going to make the April 1st deadline?

Yes, of course we will make our April 1st notification deadline. We are right on track!

A quick update: We've sent out MANY admission offers already -- and received MANY acceptance confirmations! On the flip-side, we've also sent out MANY denial letters to date. We will send out another batch of offer letters, and unfortunately, another batch of denial letters. Waitlist letters will also go out.

It feels good to be wrapping up another admissions cycle.

Ask me anything

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is there at all any preference between applicants who are in-state versus out-of state? Seems on forum sites (SDN) that most currently accepted students are from California. I'm trying to be absolutely patient and hopeful for good mail.

Good question. A couple of things to keep in mind:
1. First and foremost, be careful when reading online forums. I think it's easy to get caught up in the information being thrown about. They are public forums. Anyone can say anything -- even post false information. (For instance, I've read posts where posters have indicated they've been offered admission at a time when we've sent NO offers out! And then panic sets in from others who read that.) I also think it's easy to get caught up in thinking that the forums include EVERYONE who has applied or interviewed or accepted -- when in reality, it's only a few posters.
2. We don't have an in-state or out-of-state preference. We select our interview pool from those who apply to our program. The vast majority of our applicants are from California; therefore the majority of our interviewees are from CA. The majority of our entering class is from CA. If we received thousands of applicants from Tennessee, we'd probably interview a lot of people from Tennessee. And we'd have many Tennesseans in our entering class. But we don't.

Ask me anything

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What's the number one most annoying question applicants ask you during this point in the admissions process?

I wouldn't call it "annoying" so much as "odd". We get so many questions about the wait list (usually "How many people on the wait list?") I find it odd because we have a ranked wait list and everyone on the wait list knows exactly what their number is. If someone is ranked #6, what does it matter if there are 16, 26, or 6,000 on the wait list? You're still #6. What's important to know is WHERE YOU ARE on the wait list, now how many people are behind you. Right?

Ask me anything

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Have you ever received angry letters from rejected applicants?

Yes. Those letters -- or angry responses -- are quite telling and reinforce the decision of the Admissions committee that the applicant isn't a good fit for our program. (How someone responds to a set-back can be more insightful than how they respond to success.)

Ask me anything

are you all done finalizing the admission/denial decisions?


Ask me anything

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hello! I was wondering if you are sending admission decisions daily or every so often (in batches)?

Does it have to be one or the other?

(By the way, we did prepare a batch of letters on Friday -- both offers and denials -- but it was AFTER the 9am mail service deadline -- so nothing went out. It's currently sitting in the outgoing mail box. So no one has been notified either way.)

Ask me anything

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just another day at UCSF...

(I've been meaning to post this for a few days. A lot of friends have been posting it on Facebook. I'm glad it's being widely-circulated. Be sure and watch the video. How amazing is this? Yes, UCSF!)

New UCSF Robotic Pharmacy Aims to Improve Patient Safety
Karin Rush-Monroe
March 7, 2011

Although it won’t be obvious to UCSF Medical Center patients, behind the scenes a family of giant robots now counts and processes their medications. With a new automated hospital pharmacy, believed to be the nation’s most comprehensive, UCSF is using robotic technology and electronics to prepare and track medications with the goal of improving patient safety.
Not a single error has occurred in the 350,000 doses of medication prepared during the system’s recent phase in.

The robots tower over humans, both in size and ability to deliver medications accurately. Housed in a tightly secured, sterile environment, the automated system prepares oral and injectable medicines, including toxic chemotherapy drugs. In addition to providing a safer environment for pharmacy employees, the automation also frees UCSF pharmacists and nurses to focus more of their expertise on direct patient care. 

  Pharmacy robot selects medications from drawers.
Photo: Susan Merrell/UCSF

Integrated care
The new pharmacy is the hub of UCSF’s integrated medication management system which combines state-of the-art technology with personalized care.

“The automated pharmacy streamlines medication delivery from prescription to patient,” said Lynn Paulsen, PharmD, director of pharmaceutical services at UCSF Medical Center. “It was important to develop a system that is integrated from end to end. Each step in safe, effective medication therapy – from determining the most appropriate drug for an individual patient to administering it–is contingent on the other.”

The new pharmacy currently serves UCSF hospitals at Parnassus and Mount Zion and has the capacity to dispense medications for the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, scheduled to open in 2014. As the phase-in continues, additional steps in the process will be eliminated as doctors begin inputting prescriptions directly into computers in 2012.

“We are intent on finding new ways to improve the quality and safety of our care, while increasing patient satisfaction,” said Mark Laret, CEO, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. “The automated pharmacy helps us achieve that and at the same time, advance our mission as a leading teaching hospital and research institution.

Studies have shown that technology, including barcoding and computerized physician entry, as well as changes in hospital processes for medication management, can help reduce errors. The pharmacy also will enable UCSF to study new ways of medication delivery with the goal of sharing that knowledge with other hospitals across the country.

Automation at work
Once computers at the new pharmacy electronically receive medication orders from UCSF physicians and pharmacists, the robotics pick, package, and dispense individual doses of pills. Machines assemble doses onto a thin plastic ring that contains all the medications for a patient for a 12-hour period, which is bar-coded. This fall, nurses at UCSF Medical Center will begin to use barcode readers to scan the medication at patients’ bedsides, verifying it is the correct dosage for the patient.

The automated system also compounds sterile preparations of chemotherapy and non-chemotherapy doses and fills IV syringes or bags with the medications.  An automated inventory management system keeps track of all the products, and one refrigerated and two non-refrigerated automated pharmacy warehouses provide storage and retrieval of medications and supplies.

By using robots instead of people for previous manual tasks, pharmacists and nurses will have more time to work with physicians to determine the best drug therapy for a patient, and to monitor patients for clinical response and adverse drug reactions.

Educating the next generation
In addition, the new pharmacy offers a rich training ground for pharmacy students in the medication distribution systems of the future.

 Robotic pill picker and plastic bags for medication.
Photo: Susan Merrell/UCSF

“UCSF led the way in training clinical pharmacists, who focus on the patient rather than the drug product,” said Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “Automated medication dispensing frees pharmacists from the mechanical aspects of the practice. This technology, with others, will allow pharmacists to use their pharmaceutical care expertise to assure that patients are treated with medicines tailored to their individual needs.”

The facility, located at Mission Bay south of downtown San Francisco, has been awarded LEED-CI Gold certification for its sustainable building practices.

Article originally published here.

The light at the end of the tunnel...

It's been a crazy few days, it seems. And time is flying by. Wait, it's March already? Wow.... time really does fly when you are having fun!

Shirin (our Outreach & Recruitment Coordinator) and I traveled to Fresno ("FresYES," I say!) this past weekend for Pharmacy Information Day. It was an excellent program, I must admit. We hosted a group of very interested and highly-engaged prospective students (and parents!) I can't believe we are already in the middle of our Spring Information Days. For those not familiar with these programs, you really should visit our website and get registered. We will be visiting Long Beach in April and hosting a San Francisco event in May. Good stuff, good stuff.  (I just realized what a shameless plug that was.)

We had another terrific Admissions Committee meeting today.  The discussions have been very interesting and extremely insightful. Having in-depth discussions about the strengths and weaknesses of our applicants really gives us a sense of who we are admitting (or not admitting.)  These discussions reinforce the fact that we LOOK AT EVERYTHING -- essays, academic preparation, interview evaluations, on-site essay, work experiences, letters of recommendation, leadership, involvement, passion, interest, fit for UCSF, etc. Oh, and that list isn't in any particular order -- just what came to mind. (I'm sure some will read into it and assume essays are the most important, followed by academic preparation, etc. Not true.)

So....  back to the original reason for this post.

We. Must. Start. Sending. Out. Letters. ASAP!

It's been easy to distract ourselves from sending out notification letters -- but we can wait no longer. We will start doing this tomorrow. Yes, we will. =)

In the interest of responding to frequently asked questions, here's a Q&A style post for you:

Have you sent notification letters yet?
Not yet. But we will tomorrow. Both admission offers and non-offer letters (also known as "denial letters".)

Will you send all letters out at the same time?
No. Just some -- both offer letters and denial letters.

If I don't get an offer letter soon, does that mean I will get a denial letter later?

If I don't get a denial letter soon, does that mean I will get an offer letter later?

My friend received her letter, but I haven't received mine. Can I call you and find out when my letter will be sent out? 
No. We are committed to sending all notification letters out by April 1st. If you haven't heard from us by April 5th, then definitely contact us!

I heard you started sending out letters earlier last year. True?
We may have sent them earlier -- by a few days -- but every year is different. As my mom would say "things are constantly changing in a constantly-changing world."  Every year is different. Every admissions cycle is different.

Why is it taking so long? 
Well, from our perspective, we are right on track! Our final review process is very very thorough. We want to make sure we are making the right decisions based on solid reasoning/evidence/information. We double- and triple-check our work. (That's important, right?)

I attended the first interview day. Does that mean I'll be notified sooner?  Oh, and my friend interviewed on the last day. Does that mean he will be notified closer to April 1st?
Nope! At this point, everyone has interviewed. Our notification process doesn't take into account when someone interviewed.

Can you fax or email my notification letter?
No. We believe it's important to notify you with a letter in the mail.

Are offer letters sent in big envelopes and denial letters sent in little envelopes?
All letters are sent in same-sized envelopes. We keep it simple. (But this question always cracks me up.)

I have an offer from another school. Can you expedite my notification so I can make a decision now?
Unfortunately, we won't. As we've previously told all our applicants, we are committed to sending out all notification letters by April 1st. To expedite a decision/notification wouldn't be fair to you, to us, and to all other applicants.

And finally......

Is patience a good quality in a future pharmacist?
Yes! Absolutely!!!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Daring and the Different

It's been a while since I've posted anything. Eeeks! Sorry. Once we return from our winter break, the pace is frenetic and there's just no time to blog, much less breathe.

We are preparing for our fifth and final interview day this coming Friday and I've heard many interviewees comment on how helpful the blog has been. (Which adds even more pressure to post regularly!)

A few days ago Mary Anne stopped by the office to chat -- no agenda, just a casual visit to see how we were doing. She mentioned a meeting she recently had with a current first-year student -- again, no agenda, just a meeting to get to know the student... and for the student to get to know her. She was VERY IMPRESSED with the student and raved about her post-graduation intentions of returning to her home country to help solve health disparities. The student, according to Mary Anne, struck the perfect balance of compassion, intention, bravery, and bold thinking.

It reminded me of a meeting the Admissions Committee had with Mary Anne a few years ago prior to embarking on that year's admissions cycle. She challenged us to recruit, interview, and admit "bold and innovative thinkers who aren't afraid to push the boundaries of the profession."  That's a direct quote, folks. I kid you not. I wrote it down and often refer to it when talking to prospective students. 

The same day that Mary Anne stopped by the office, my friend Heather emailed me a quote that seemed to embody the same spirit of boldness:

        Be daring,
        be different,
        be impractical,
        be anything that will assert
        integrity of purpose and
        imaginative vision
        against the play-it-safers,
        the creatures of the commonplace,
        the slaves of the ordinary.            ~ Cecil Beaton

In my quick research of Cecil Beaton, I found him to be a bold and innovative thinker who certainly wasn't afraid to push the boundaries of his profession

So to bring it all back to pharmacy school admissions: Are you daring? Different? A visionary? Or a play-it-safer?

Are you a bold and innovative thinker who will push the boundaries of this profession?
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