UCSF navigation

Friday, December 21, 2012

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end...

I don't think I've ever welcomed a winter break as much as I have this year. What a whirlwind couple of months.

Our office will close this afternoon and not reopen until Wednesday, January 2nd. We should all use this time to step away from our busy lives and enjoy the opportunity to spend time with friends and family. A few things to note:
  1. Those with completed applications have been notified that "Invitations will be mailed between late-December and very early January. All applicants will be notified of their status by January 11th, 2013."  We are right on track!
  2. Don't get too caught up in how previous years have played out. Often I hear/read comments that start out, "Well I heard last year that you guys..." to which I respond "Every year is different!"
  3. We will not be sending out any additional invitations/denials until we return in January.
  4. If you have not received any notification from us, it means one of two things: (1) we have not received your PharmCAS application yet; or (2) we have simply not processed your completed application yet. Again, we will resume our work in January.
  5. Several years ago, I blogged about how applications are processed. Most of that information is still relevant to this year's application process. Please read it for additional information.
  6. I will be announcing a dramatic new interview process shortly! Stay tuned. 
Finally, I never intend to use this blog as a personal platform -- but this time of year can bring out a reflective part of me. This past year, several chaotic and sad events have happened in our world. It will be refreshing to close the book on 2012 and re-start fresh with a new year -- and a renewed sense of optimism and opportunity.

Have a terrific winter break, however you celebrate.

P.S. Yep, I quoted Semisonic in this blog post title. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Proof is in the BandAid

Nothing says "File Review Time" like having to put a BandAid on your finger -- because the writing starts to hurt after awhile.

Yes, I'm using a pink pen.
Yes, I need my fingernails trimmed. (Hey, it's been a busy month!)
No, this is not a paid advertisement for BandAid brand. (Any brand will do!)


Besides this (reviewing files), we are STILL processing applications! 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Moving forward...

Wow... what an incredible past few work days. Luckily, the weather in San Francisco this weekend was amazing! After the website glitch last Thursday and a busy day of crisis-management on Friday -- a great weekend was much needed!

We are back on the horse today... and moving forward...

Many of you know (and many of you don't -- because you successfully submitted your application way before the deadline), our website encountered a problem as the deadline approached. It happens. What website hasn't encountered problems? Especially during heavy-traffic times. (Ever buy concert tickets? Ever shopped online the day after Thanksgiving?)

I'll admit, part of me panicked. But I also had to keep things in perspective. No lives were lost. No destruction occurred. Our problems could be fixed. It required us to take a deep breath, assess the situation, fix the broken pieces, and create a plan to move forward.  Did we anticipate we'd have problems with the website? No. But life happens. =) 

We quickly assembled our team and our technical crew is close to resolving the problem. (Yayyy!) All applicants who created an account, but did not submit an application received an email this evening. We've decided to:

  1. Re-open the application portal to ALL applicants who have created accounts (but did not submit the application) regardless of how much of the application was completed. We will not allow new accounts to be created.
  2. Notify account holders (who did not submit) by email that the application portal has re-opened.
  3. Set a new deadline time/date. We expect to have the application open for a few days to enable applicants to complete and submit their application.  (Please note: Our new application deadline will not coincide with PharmCAS’ extended deadline.) Our new deadline will be announced in the email.
For those who have already submitted your application, congratulations! We consider you to have successfully completed our supplemental application process and you can breathe a sigh of relief. We will not reopen the application portal to those who have already submitted. However, for all those applications submitted on November 1 (when technical issues started to surface), our staff will be sure and check each of those applications to make sure no problems exist. If there is an issue, we will follow-up with the applicant individually.  

I suppose we will get some flack (by a few angry birds) by re-opening the application portal (and extending the deadline) for those that couldn't submit because our website wouldn't allow them -- but I'll be sure to remind those birds that our review process isn't based on who could submit their application first, or who had zero problems submitting, or who ran into a technical glitch, or who was allowed another opportunity to submit once the problems were solved. There's no advantage given that will result in a more competitive application being submitted. As always, it's about "fit". We are trying to find the students that make the best fit for our program -- regardless of when their application was ultimately submitted. 

Our goal has always been to make sure applicants are able to apply to our program if they meet the minimum requirements, including the deadline. We prevented that with our website glitch. We are correcting it so our goals can be accomplished and those applicants who had intentions of applying can do so. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

As (un)expected....

We realize there are some technical glitches (...as a result of a re-boot... as a result of a system overload*) that may prevent some applicants from submitting their application before the deadline tonight.

Not to worry. We are reasonable people.  Our goal, all along, is to get your application successfully submitted. This will continue to be our goal even though we've encountered a bump in the road and a deadline.

We will deal with applicants one-by-one to resolve the issues so applications can be submitted --  beyond the deadline. Even if it means re-opening the application so it can be correctly submitted. But we can only do this by working together, which we will begin doing as soon as possible. Remember, some of the qualities we look for in applicants include patience, professionalism and how they react/respond in various situations. 

In the meantime, don't stress. We'll fix it. I promise.


*P.S. We are more popular than we thought. I guess that's a good thing. =)

As expected....

Our Supplemental Application is experiencing HEAVY USAGE right now.  On the application website, we included the following statement:
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.
Keep trying!

Supplemental Application Deadline

PharmCAS recently notified applicants that the PharmCAS deadline has been extended until November 15.  We've received many phone calls and emails asking whether this extension applies to our Supplemental Application. The deadline extension does not apply to the UCSF Supplemental Application. The following message should be posted to our website soon:

As a result of impact of the severe weather on the East Coast, PharmCAS has extended the November 1 deadline to November 15.  The deadline for the UCSF Supplemental application has not changed; the deadline remains November 1

If your ability to complete the supplemental application by November 1 has been impacted as a result of the storm and you can provide evidence to that effect (e.g. you live in an area affected by the weather), please contact our admissions staff regarding an extension at:  admissions@pharmacy.ucsf.edu 

We've had several discussions in our office over the past few days (regarding the extended PharmCAS deadline.)  The deadline was extended to accommodate those directly affected by the hurricane. It's our belief that those not directly affected should continue to adhere to the November 1 deadline -- it's the right thing to do. It's the ethical thing to do.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

UCSF community says "It Gets Better!"

Often when talking to prospective students, I share that the admissions/selection process is simply trying to find students that make the best fit for our program -- based on what we offer, what the student can contribute, and what the student is looking for. As part of that discussion, I always encourage applicants to spend quality time researching each institution they are considering -- in order to get a strong sense of each school's values, commitments, priorities, and culture. 

One of the six goals in UCSF's Strategic Plan is:
Educate, train and employ a diverse faculty, staff and student body. Offering a wide range of educational and career opportunities for students, faculty and staff, UCSF seeks candidates whose life experience, work experience or community service has prepared them to contribute to UCSF’s commitment to diversity and excellence. Diversity is a defining feature of California’s past, present and future, and refers to the variety of personal experiences, values and worldviews that arise from differences in culture and circumstance. Such differences include race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and geographic region, among others.
It's not surprising that UCSF's LGBTQ community rallied together to produce a video as part of the "It Gets Better" campaign. 

The video alone demonstrates the inclusive community that exists on campus but also UCSF's commitment to reaching out to the broader population. Read on....


UCSF’s LGBTQ Community Assures Teens That ‘It Gets Better’

University Contributes to Web Video Series Giving Hope to At-Risk Youth

By Leland Kim on October 11, 2012 
“Coming out” is an uncertain rite of passage for members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning) community.

To increase awareness about this often-difficult process, members of UCSF’s LGBTQ community created an “It Gets Better” video to commemorate UCSF's Diversity Week and National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Started in 1988 as a way to remember the October 1987 National March on Washington, D.C., for Lesbian and Gay Rights, National Coming Out Day has grown into an annual celebration of coming out and an opportunity to raise awareness of the LGBTQ community and civil rights movement.

Although there are no national data regarding suicide rates among the LGBT population (because sexual orientation is not included in death certificates), researchers found that LGBT teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.

Barbara J. French“When you’re young, you really look outward for approval from your parents, your friends and your teachers,” said Barbara J. French, vice chancellor for UCSF Strategic Communications and University Relations, and the highest-ranking University leader who is openly gay. “Being gay, bisexual or transgender at that stage of life can be especially difficult because you can feel like you’re just not good enough.”

Persevering Through Difficult Times

UCSF’s four-minute video features more than 30 ethnically and culturally diverse UCSF faculty, staff, students and trainees – ranging in ages from 20s to 60s – who give resources and messages of hope to at-risk youth. It pays homage to the first “It Gets Better” video by focusing on a singular message told by a group of people: persevere through the difficult times because it truly does get better. 

UCSF Medical Center a Leader in LGBT-Inclusive Care 

UCSF Medical Center is the only institution in the United States to receive a perfect score on the national LGBT Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) for five consecutive years. The HEI annually invites health care facilities nationwide to rate themselves on providing equitable, inclusive care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) patients and their families. The criteria call for health care facilities to have LGBT nondiscrimination policies that cover patients and employees, to provide equal hospital visitation access for same-sex partners and parents, and to offer LGBT health education for staff.
“We’re honored to join the family of ‘It Gets Better’ supporters with one more resource for the community,” said French, who in June 2012 was named by UC President Mark G. Yudof to co-lead a task force to examine and implement strategies for creating more welcoming and inclusive campus environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, faculty and staff.

UCSF has many diverse services, including the LGBT Resource Center, one of the first LGBT offices in higher education. It falls under the jurisdiction of Renee Navarro, PharmD, MD, the University’s first vice chancellor of Diversity and Outreach.

Other LGBT-friendly services and groups at UCSF include the Lesbian Health Resource Center, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on GLBT Issues, the Center for Transgender Health, the Gay Straight Dentistry Alliance, LGBTQ Student Association, the Committee on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion and Outlist, which contains more than 300 faculty, staff, students and trainees listed as resources for the community.

“UCSF has worked diligently and is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and supportive environment for the LGBTQ community,” Navarro said. “Much progress has been made; however, we recognize that more work needs to be done because coming out can still be a very difficult process.”

The original “It Gets Better” video, created by columnist Dan Savage for Google Chrome, became a YouTube viral video, logging more than 2.3 million views and spawning the It Gets Better Project in 2010. Since then, more than 30,000 people, including celebrities, elected officials and community groups, have uploaded videos that have received more than 40 million views.

UCSF joins other Bay Area leaders in creating an “It Gets Better” video, including the San Francisco Giants, the San Francisco 49ers, Facebook, Pixar and San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center.

“Your feelings are natural and they’re beautiful and they come from a place of love,” said French. "The most important thing is to continue to believe in yourself and don’t listen to what other people tell you because they don’t realize how beautiful you are. Just believe in yourself.”

Photo by Susan Merrell

Monday, October 15, 2012


This weekend, my friend Michele and I were driving up to Apple Hill near Placerville, CA. She was driving and I was playing on my iPad. I logged into this blog to correct a typo and was met with a nice surprise!  This little blog hit the "100,000 Page Views" mark over the weekend. Crazy! Who knew?!?! It's exciting to know that so many people have visited the blog -- hopefully the information has proven to be helpful.

P.S. The apples are delicious this time of year!

Top Students Tell Why They Chose UCSF

I love hearing why students (not just pharmacy students, but all students) chose to attend UCSF. The responses are always varied and can be quite revealing. This video captures the excitement during a recent orientation event. 
Source: UCSF News Center 

During the recent student orientation day at UCSF, Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, welcomed students from schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy and the Graduate Division to the health sciences university.

For Desmond-Hellmann, it's a chance to get out of her office and meet and greet first-year students for a fun afternoon full of optimism and hope.

"It's unbelievable, this combination of almost giddiness that here you are at UCSF and terror at realizing here you are at UCSF. It's just infectious to see their enthusiasm, their intelligence and their passion. It's really great," she said, describing the experience at her recent State of the University address.

One of UCSF's top goals is to attract and support the most talented and diverse trainees in the health sciences. This year, the graduate health sciences university welcomed 810 students from all around the world and from varied backgrounds. Some of them described why they chose to study at UCSF in this video capturing the spirit of the day.

Founded in 1864 as Toland Medical College, UCSF was devoted from the start to training the future leaders in health sciences and biomedical research, and remains the only campus in the 10-campus University of California system with that singular focus. As the University expanded its professional training, it also developed a strong commitment to interprofessional education and collaboration among the professions, as well as a commitment to the underserved and reducing health disparities around the world.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Class of 2016 - White Coat Ceremony

Today we white-coated members of the Class of 2016 in a beautiful ceremony. Prior to the actual ceremony, an official class photo is taken in one of the campus courtyards.  Inevitably, after the official photo, the class wants to create an "Rx" photo for fun. David Hand, a talented photographer who works in the School of Dentistry, and whose office is located on the 6th floor overlooking the courtyard, captured this stunning photo from his office. I just had to share...

UCSF Pharmacy Style (Gangnam Style Parody)

This was simply too brilliant NOT to post. The production is spot on. Kudos to Tony and Johnny!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Humanities & Social Sciences

As you know, within our 88 total quarter-unit prerequisite requirements, we require 28 quarter units in the Humanities and/or Social Sciences. Within that 28 quarter-unit requirement, you must include the following:
  1. One course in Public Speaking or Debate (your choice!)
  2. One course in Economics... Micro- or Macro- (your choice!)
  3. One course in one of the following: (again, totally your choice!)
      • Introduction to Psychology or 
      • Introduction to Sociology or 
      • Cultural Anthropology
So, let's pretend the above three courses total 13.5 quarter units. Since we require 28 quarter units, this means you must identify additional courses that will total 14.5 quarter units (which will likely be only 3 or 4 additional courses in the Humanities and/or Social Sciences.)

"What do you mean by 'Humanities and Social Sciences' huh?"  I can't even begin to tell you how often we get this question. Hence this blog post.... 

I hate giving away the answers. Instead, I like to provide people with tools to find the answers themselves. It reminds me of that quote about teaching someone to fish, rather than fishing for them. Let me find it. Ah, here... 

So... rather than provide an answer with a list of subjects that fall within the Humanities and Social Sciences (too easy), I direct them to Wikipedia where I've found the most comprehensive list of subject areas for the two disciplines. Here, check it out:

Last but not least, since I love photos, here's a visual....

Finally (even though the above was "last, but not least"), whenever we talk about "quarter units", questions arise regarding "semester units" and whether we accept semester units. UCSF is on the quarter system so we count everything in quarter units. To convert your semester units to quarter units... 

I think that's all for now. Carry on....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

UCSF Names Guglielmo Interim Dean

I've been meaning to post this for awhile.... just getting some free time now...

UCSF has named Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, an international expert in the clinical use of antimicrobials and chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, as interim dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy, starting July 1.

Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, who announced the appointment in an email to the UCSF community, noted the school’s pre-eminence in its field and the multiple contributions Guglielmo has made to UCSF in the 33 years he has served the University, as well as his breadth of leadership in education, clinical pharmacy practice and research.

Guglielmo is a renowned educator, clinical pharmacist and expert in the evidence-based, safe and effective use of antimicrobials to treat infections. He is a professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at UCSF, where he joined the faculty in 1979, and holds the Thomas A.
 Oliver Chair in Clinical Pharmacy. He also serves as assistant director for pharmaceutical services in the UCSF Medical Center, where he maintains a clinical practice as an infectious-disease pharmacist.

Widely known as an advocate for pharmacy research, Guglielmo has overseen a 44 percent increase in his department’s overall faculty research funding since he took the helm in 2006, including grants from the National Institutes of Health. During that time, the school also has consistently been ranked first in its field by the national U.S. News & World Report survey of PharmD training programs.

Guglielmo’s international contributions to antibiotic safety include the UCSF Medical Center Antimicrobial Stewardship Program, which he developed in the 1980s to study and improve the practices governing the use of antimicrobials in hospitals. This evidence-based program was one of the earliest programs of its kind in the United States.

In 2007, Guglielmo created the UCSF Medications Outcome Center to research and consistently improve medication management in the UCSF Medical Center and beyond. He also created the HIV Pharmacy Program at the UCSF Medical Center, specifically supporting the Women and Men of Color Clinics. A firm believer in forging relationships among clinical scientists and their colleagues in basic and translational science, he has collaborated with neuroscience and neurology colleagues at UCSF on trying to develop a treatment for prion disease, and was actively involved in the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) at its inception and during its renewal.

Guglielmo has taught pharmacy and medical students, residents and fellows for decades and is the recipient of many teaching awards, including the UCSF Lifetime Mentorship Award, Resident Preceptor of the Year Awards, UCSF School of Pharmacy Long Teaching Awards, and the Academic Senate Distinction in Teaching Award. He is the author of more than 110 peer-reviewed papers, the majority related to anti-infective agents.

A search is underway to find a permanent new dean for the UCSF School of Pharmacy to replace Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, who will retire at the end of this month.

In Their Own Words: Kate

(Editor's note: This is another [awesome] installment in the ongoing series I've titled "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. Kate is a great example of one of our students being able to balance it all -- school, family, Admissions Committee, etc.  -- with maturity and grace! I'm so glad we have her perspective on the committee.) 

Name: Kate
Year: Class of 2013 
Hometown: Milford, Michigan
Previous institution attended: Eastern Michigan University
Undergraduate major: Biochemistry

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
My own classmates inspired me to apply. Their diversity of backgrounds and interests excite me about the future of the pharmacy - they are the next leaders in patient care, global health and pharmaceutical research.  Having a part in selecting incoming students ready to contribute and make the most of their time here is the absolute best part of serving on the committee for me!

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
How holistic the process is.  We really take the time to get to know a candidate based on his/her application materials, and we're interested in so much more than your GPA.   I remember how time consuming the application process is, but keep in mind that it's a chance for us to get a sense of who you are, why you chose pharmacy, and what interests you about UCSF.  There is no perfect applicant, so don't be afraid to let us know what makes you unique!

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
Allowing nerves to take over during the interview.  Trust yourself and know that everyone who takes part in our interview day really wants you to succeed (really!) 

What stands out to you on an application?
Quality always trumps quantity when it comes to extracurricular activities.  Having a variety of extracurricular and pharmacy-related activities is certainly a plus, but the individuals who really stand out to me are those who demonstrate sustained dedication to a leadership position or activity.  Applicants who are able to highlight their level of involvement in an essay or during an interview make me take notice. Definitely skip adding any one-day activities you completed during high school unless they are super relevant to pharmacy.

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
The two that come to mind are an open mind and the ability to keep focused on the big picture.
  1. The curriculum at UCSF differs slightly from many other schools of pharmacy.  Students are often surprised to learn that we don’t start our therapeutics series right away; rather there is an early emphasis on understanding the basic science behind chemical mechanisms and the pharmacology of drug classes.  Although it’s not always obvious at the time, these courses are foundational building blocks for critical thinking in clinical settings. A tremendous amount of effort goes into curriculum development at UCSF and it’s constantly evolving based on student feedback. The students I see who get the most out of the curriculum have an open mind about the learning process and are able to apply their understanding of basic science to real clinical cases. 
  2. On a day-to-day basis it’s easy to get bogged down with exams and grades and lose sight of the big picture - why you came to school in the first place.  The best coping mechanism when exam stress kicks in is taking a step back to recharge and reconnect with what you see yourself doing after you graduate.  In my experience, students who keep their focus on the big picture are able to adapt well to the normal stressors of graduate school. 
What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
It sounds simple, but take your time researching pharmacy programs to find the best fit for you. In addition to reading admission websites, try to attend an informational day for prospective students and use the opportunity to talk candidly with current students.  Their perspective can be instrumental in deciding if a school is a good cultural and academic fit.  Keep in mind that an ideal program is one you’re confident will support and inspire your career path.  When it comes time to interview, remember, it's a two-way street.  This is your chance to ask us the hard questions based on what you've learned.

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
After doing a lot of research, I discovered the Pharmaceutical Sciences Pathway at UCSF, which felt like the perfect fit for my interests. My application focused on how my background at biotech companies prepared me to get the most out of the program, and would allow me to contribute in a unique way to the courses. Fortunately the admissions committee agreed and I have loved the program! 

What do you do for fun? 
As a former bench chemist now sans bench, I’ve taken up cooking to cater to my more creative side.  My appreciation for all things food helped my classmate and I earn the title of UCSF’s Iron Chef 2010 for our gingered mushroom stir-fry (patent pending).  I’m a transplant to the West Coast so when I’m not studying or honing my cooking skills, I love finding hidden gems in the city like Golden Gate Park’s herd of bison, and the world’s first fortune cookie factory!

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

UCSF UCSF About UCSF Search UCSF UCSF Medical Center