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Friday, January 20, 2012

In Their Own Words: Doug

(Editor's note: This is the fourth 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. Doug is, well, hmmm... Doug is.... quite unique. First of all, he entered the program with a very different perspective and skill-set than most of our students -- so his contribution to the admissions committee has been extremely valuable. Doug always reminds us that unique backgrounds add to the richness and diversity of our student body. He's very funny and can be seen in some of our student-profile videos I previously posted. He's got an amazing future in industry ahead of him. One thing I think is a bit odd about Doug is his love/obsession for John Tesh's music. Ha! Read on....)

Hometown: The more exotic answer would be Saint Louis, but San Jose applies for most of those formative years.
Previous institutions attended: UC Santa Cruz and Front Range Community College (Westminster, CO – to finish up pre-reqs and some much needed refresher courses)
Undergraduate Major: marine biology baby!

Why did you apply to be a member of the Admissions Committee and what have you enjoyed the most?
The sheer power of controlling the future.  Kidding (maybe…)  The real answer would be: I am really interested and invested in creating a more innovative future for pharmacy as a profession and I believe that process begins with the academic community we can create by broadening the admissions approach.  Participating on the committee enabled me to not only learn about the process but also test my point of view amongst peers of the profession, and proved extremely rewarding.

What surprised you most about UCSF’s admissions process?
As a student, my opinions and recommendations were in fact taken with equal weight to everyone else’s. 

In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes applicants make?
Lack of insightfulness…  I saw a ton of descriptions of pre-pharm activities, which are valid and good, but devoid of any explanation of what the student learned from them.  I really hope that student’s will be able to synthesize a list of their own qualifications into an insightful explanation of experience.  Many cannot do this.

What stands out to you on an application?
Something unique and, to be honest, non-pharmacy-related.  If you’ve been able to blend your presumed interest in pharmacy with some other original, honest life-pursuit, that is a major benefit.  Think about it: what makes academic life engaging? Answer: discourse generated from different life perspectives.  Therefore: show us you have something to say.

What are your pet peeve(s) when interviewing an applicant or reviewing a file? (What drives you crazy?)
A rehearsed answer is more painful to sit through than a John Tesh concert.  Seriously, the interview process is a chance to get to know a candidate beyond what we can glean from the submitted application.  If a potential student fails to realize this and shows up with prefab responses, everyone’s time is wasted; disingenuous and surface performances don’t impress anyone.

What characteristics are necessary in order to succeed in UCSF’s PharmD program?
Bummer answer: superhuman memorization abilities (I actually don’t possess this unfortunately).  Inspirational answer: an innate drive to approach the program with curiosity and a personal sense of ambition above and beyond just learning all the facts. 

What tools or resources would you recommend to prospective applicants?
By all means come visit the school!  The website is of course essential too.  Most importantly, look at multiple programs – just because UCSF is ranked highly does not mean it is the best program for everyone’s interests and learning styles.  Interviewing at schools across the country really helped me to solidify why I would want to come to UCSF.  The rankings were not a top priority and are only a reflection of past performance – don’t presume that a high ranking guarantees one’s intellectual fit.

What single piece of advice would you give to a prospective applicant?
Make the MOST of your time as an undergrad and pursue a breadth of interests.  Pharmacy as a profession does not need more automatons who have studied along a single track since diaper days.

Why do you think you were admitted into UCSF’s PharmD program?
I invested a lot of time in the application, took some risks, and tried hard to think critically in my essays.  I do have a non-traditional background and benefited from recommendation letters from some key mentors who really knew me well.  But beyond my background, I represented myself as a varied individual with a formed perspective of how to take pharmacy knowledge in an innovative direction.  I’m pretty sure that helped.

What do you do for fun?
I love road trips, hikes with my scraggly dog, and researching new music trends. (The SF Bay Area is extra-great for such activities…)  

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

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

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