Advice, Current Students, Interviews, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

Why You Should Consider Joining a Pharmacy Club This Year

Pharmacy school can be tough and it’s important to strike a balance between academics and having a social life. One thing that really makes our Faculty stand out is that we have a variety of clubs within the Faculty, meaning students can engage in extracurricular activities with other fellow pharmacy students too!

Clubs Night. Photo by Ivan Yastrebov.

Joining a pharmacy club is a great way to make new friends, de-stress from academics, get involved in Faculty events, and possibly develop life skills as an executive member. Third-year pharmacy student, Jonathan Loong, spoke with reps from three clubs to learn more about what they have to offer – and why you should consider joining.

Pharmacy Business Club

What does the Pharmacy Business Club do? Why should students join?
The Pharmacy Business Club is a student-led, student-oriented venture that aims to inspire and educate prospective and practicing healthcare professionals in business-related disciplines. We stand for the advocacy of pharmacy (and for all recognized healthcare professions), innovation in practice, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Our goal is to help healthcare professionals and students foster the skills and creative capacity to facilitate, evolve, and revolutionize patient-centred care, their current or future practice, and the healthcare system as a whole.

What sets your club apart from the others?
All of the clubs within the Faculty are unique and offer something that appeals to the student body. However, we found there was a void between pharmacy business and the resources available to students outside the classroom. The Pharmacy Business Club provides students with the platform to lead any initiative they are passionate about, from food drives to setting up networking events with members from the business community.

What is THE major event or thing that everyone looks forward to?
The flagship event for Pharmacy Business Club is Independent’s Night. We held our inaugural event in January 2018, hosting 7 community pharmacy owners from across the province. We had speakers from Fort St. John, Sorrento, and various cities in the Lower Mainland. The purpose of this event is to promote independent pharmacy ownership. Independent’s Night gives students the opportunity to ask questions directly to the owners in a small group settings.

What is a piece of advice you’d give to potential pharmacy applicants?
Explore. There are many aspects to pharmacy practice, and it can be overwhelming to figure out what stream of the profession is best suited for you. It is a rewarding profession with many different avenues that may be explored.

UBC Vocal Ensemble

What does the UBC Vocal Ensemble do? Why should students join?
The UBC Pharmacy Vocal Ensemble is a club that gets together once a week, to choose and practice songs which we later perform at pharmacy events or our own concerts throughout the year.

Students should ONLY join the vocal ensemble… if they enjoy singing. That is the one thing in common with every member of our club, and absolutely nothing else is a requirement. Heck, if you sing in the shower you can join! If you’re undecided, we strongly suggest that you check out a practice. We are a super laid back group, and everything we do is for fun. There’s no pressure, so feel free to come on by and see for yourself what the club has to offer.

What sets your club apart from the others?
First of all, our faculty does not have much variety in terms of hobby-related clubs. However, what really makes our club unique is that it is the one place where you can gather with your peers in all years of the program, not worry about exams or stress, and just relax and connect with others doing something we all love: singing.

What is THE major event or thing that everyone looks forward to?
Now this may be up for debate, but I have to say the Coffeehouse is THE event to look forward to (in our opinion anyway!) We essentially set up a small homey stage in the pharmacy building atrium, and students from all years of our program come out and showcase their musical talents, while others enjoy coffee, tea, and baked goods over a couple rounds of board games. We have a long list of registered acts, followed by an audience-wide sing-a-long of a popular song that everyone knows. Not only that, but during the open mic session afterwards, many shy students opened up and surprised everyone with huge hidden talent. It really blows your mind to see that this faculty of incredibly capable pharmacy students can do other things too!

What is a piece of advice you’d give to potential pharmacy applicants?
The best way to set yourself apart from other applicants is in the multiple mini interview session. My best advice? Be confident. Decide on how you want to approach each problem before you enter the room, and once it’s time, stick to your decided approach and explain your rationale. Be bold, and don’t be afraid to show some personality. If a station doesn’t go as well as you expected, the second it’s over, purge everything that happened from your mind, reset, and go into the next room, ready to perform.

UBC Pharmacy Yearbook

What does the UBC Pharmacy Yearbook club do? Why should students join?
Joining the Pharmacy Yearbook Club presents a unique opportunity for pharmacy students of any skill level to cultivate design and photography skills. We love to help our members learn, so often senior photographers or layout designers will hold tutorials to teach newer members. Of course, meeting with students from other years and developing friendships is a great benefit, and is key to the teamwork needed to produce a Yearbook.

What sets your club apart?
We are the only club that makes the Yearbook. Not many clubs in Pharmacy involve an artistic/creative aspect, so it is a refreshing change to our pharmacy-filled lives.

What is THE major event or thing that everyone looks forward to?
Valentine’s Day. Not only do we make the Yearbook, but we also organize multiple events. One such event is organizing the candy-grams on Valentine’s Day, during which the whole team works together to take orders, and deliver hand-packaged candies to pharmacy students from their peers.

What is a piece of advice you would give to potential pharmacy applicants?
Develop your non-pharmacy skills, and don’t be afraid to show your creative side. Become a well-rounded student try not to only focus on the academic part of pharmacy.

Questions? Get in touch with these club committees here:
Pharmacy Business Club
UBC Pharmacy Vocal Ensemble 
UBC Pharmacy Yearbook

— Jonathan Loong, third-year Entry-to-Practice PharmD student

Advice, Current Students, Interviews

Finding a Job After Graduation: Advice from Career Educator, Kimberley Rawes

To wrap up our series on finding a job after graduation, we spoke with Kimberley Rawes from the UBC Centre for Student Involvement and Careers.

Image: Martin Dee / UBC Communications & Marketing

What attributes or commonalities do students who find a suitable job after graduation possess?
What a good question – and a tough question! I find reflection and self-awareness to be one of the attributes talked about less, but one worth spending some time on. Reflection can be practiced over time (“so what… now what…” type discussions or thoughts with friends, family or yourself). With more and more practice, you learn more about yourself and what matters to you. This is the kind of thing that employers look for.

They look for you to talk about what your skills are and why they matter to the employer. They want you to tell them stories about times when you excelled or times when you were really challenged and explain what you learned from both. At the foundation of these kinds of questions or examples is reflection.

Now that you are nearing the end of your program, I would recommend asking yourself a few questions:

  • What are some memorable moments from your experience of the program where your skills were tested or strengthened?
  • What have you learned from those moments? What skills did you use in each story?
  • How do those stories illustrate the skills and attitudes of a professional pharmacist?

Write down these stories. They can be used to improve your resume, cover letter, or interview examples. Not sure how to do this? Come to the centre or check out our resume videos.

What job search tips do you have for our graduating students?
Even if it takes more time, prepare a different resume and specific cover letter for each and every employer. Most candidates send a generic resume out to all employers since the jobs they are applying to are similar. This means that the candidates often don’t speak to the specific duties or responsibilities in the role, the values of the company or organization, and miss out on linking their experience to the role they are applying to. This holds them back from the interview stage, not because the employer doesn’t think their experience is good enough, but because an employer doesn’t understand the experience or how it relates to their role.

I strongly encourage students to check out our online resources that describe how to effectively tailor and target your application, write your cover letter, or write strong accomplishment statements on your resume.

The Centre for Student Involvement and Careers offer many helpful resources on their website, along with events, one-on-one advising, and drop-in resume coaching.

Advice, Current Students, Interviews

How I Found a Job After Graduation #2: Moh Kazem

This four-part series features stories from our alumni about how they found employment after graduation, along with advice from the pros at the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers.

Image: Martin Dee / UBC Communications & Marketing

Moh Kazem graduated from UBC Pharm Sci with a BSc(Pharm) in 2016. Here’s how Mo found his first pharmacy job.

What was your first job after graduating from UBC Pharm Sci?
Upon graduating and receiving the good news about my licensing exams, I began working as a staff pharmacist with Shoppers Drug Mart, where I still work today.

Tell us how you found employment after graduating.
Finding employment opportunities immediately after graduation may vary depending on your experiences as a student, but I found my first job by networking and being persistent.

Because of my previous experiences working for both independent pharmacies and corporations, I had gained insight into the services that different employers offered to recent graduates, and I wanted to have the flexibility to apply my drug knowledge in both a community pharmacy environment and through community outreach programs.

Upon hearing about the expanded services that Shoppers Drug Mart offered patients in the community, I contacted an associate there to discuss my passion for different community outreach programs, and my interest in his practice, which eventually lead to a job with the company.

Do you have any advice about finding employment for students who are about to graduate?
The simplest advice I can give students who will be graduating soon is to be persistent, and follow-up with every potential employment opportunity that presents itself.

Don’t limit yourself to a working environment that you don’t enjoy, as you will be working in this profession for a long time (hopefully) and happiness and a great working relationship with your co-workers and team members will carry you a long way.

Speak with your fellow classmates, colleagues, and alumni about potential employment opportunities, and always utilize the resources available to you such as the BCPhA, CPhA and other professional associations.

Finally, I want to emphasize that by the time you graduate from UBC Pharm Sci, you will have the skills necessary to secure yourself an employment opportunity, so be sure to make the most of all your experiences throughout the program.

Read the first post in the series here. Interview by Karie Hanson.

Advice, Current Students, Interviews

How I Found a Job After Graduation #1: Brett Chiasson

In this new series, we’ll be sharing stories from our alumni about how they found employment after graduation, along with advice from the pros at the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers.

Image: Martin Dee / UBC Communications & Marketing

First up, we spoke with Brett Chiasson. Brett graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Pharmacy) in 2015.

What was your first job after graduation?
My first job after graduation was with London Drugs in Prince George, BC. However, I was approached by Northern Health as well as an independent group of pharmacy owners shortly after starting at London Drugs. I ended up working for an independent pharmacy in Prince George and have been very happy here ever since.

How did you land your job?
I applied to London Drugs and was offered a job after a short interview via Skype. I landed my present job after being contacted by my current boss via email. He had obtained my contact information from when I applied for a job with them while I was a student in UBC pharmacy.

What advice would you share with our students who are about to graduate?
Be open to leaving the Lower Mainland. There are more options for new grads outside of Lower Mainland. Higher wages, more employment opportunities, better hours as hospital and community pharmacies aren’t open as late and so shifts are earlier.

Make the most out of your rotations. Find what is unique about your site and focus on learning about that too, as not all pharmacies are identical. Set a goal at each rotation to earn a good reference for your resume. You can do this by making a good impression with your strong work ethic and willingness to learn.

All of us graduate with the same degree, so really anything that can set you apart, like hobbies, unique experiences, can help you to find employment. I also tried to get as many different summer student employment options as possible throughout my degree.

(Interview by Karie Hanson.)

Current Students, General Interest, Interviews, Life at UBC Pharm Sci, Prospective Students

UBC Pharm Sci Student Talks: Episode 4, feat. Alex Assumption

We’re bringing back our Student Talks video series!

Last month we sat down for a chat with first-year Entry-to-Practice PharmD student, Alex Assumption, to learn more about his experiences with the program to date.

Previous Episodes:

Episode 1, feat. Aaron Sihota
Episode 2, feat. Renee Dagenais
Episode 3, feat. Joshua Quisias

Interested in joining us here at UBC Pharm Sci? Learn more about our programs.

Advice, Current Students, Interviews, Prospective Students

Pathways in Pharmacy #2: Curt Fowkes, BSc(Pharm)’08

Pathways in Pharmacy is an ongoing series where we’ll learn about different career journeys that began with a pharmacy degree. This month, Curt Fowkes tells us about his journey from the University of Alberta, to UBC, through to a hospital residency and ICU work with Northern Health, before finding his path back into community pharmacy.

Curt Fowkes

JK: Why did you choose pharmacy as a profession?

CF: Well, we’re thinking back a while ago! I grew up in Quesnel, just south of Prince George. I knew a pharmacist when I was in high school there and spent some time job shadowing with him. He was very passionate about what he did and his mentorship is what initially got me interested. He worked with another pharmacist who had completed a hospital pharmacy residency. He also had experiences to share that showed me there was a lot more to offer from the degree than I had realized.

Quesnel is a pretty small community where everybody knows everybody, and I saw the impact that these pharmacists were having on the lives of people that I knew. I also felt that becoming a pharmacist would provide job security for my own future.

Curt Fowkes 3

JK: And how did you come to UBC Pharm Sci then?

CF: After high school I went to the University of Alberta, intent on attending their school of pharmacy. But after a couple of years away from home, I wanted to move back to BC. My sister was already in the pharmacy program at UBC, my brother had just finished school at UBC and was still living in Vancouver, and we had spent a lot of time at UBC growing up as my parents were both UBC graduates.

JK: What was the best thing about UBC for you? 

CF: Well as my parents had been to UBC, we had made lots of trips there while I was growing up, so I was familiar with the campus. My parents were down in Vancouver a lot visiting, so I had lots of family around. It didn’t hurt that Whistler is nearby with great skiing!

JK: Did you move to Prince George right after graduation?

CF: Yup. I had applied for the hospital pharmacy residency program about halfway through my fourth year. Before the residency results came back I started thinking that perhaps the hospital pharmacy wasn’t for me – but after interviewing with each of the health authorities for a spot in their residency program I decided that it was probably a case of now or never for the extra experience. My sister was accepted into the UBC PharmD program and I thought that down the road that might be something I was interested in as well.

I decided to go with the residency program through Northern Health mainly because it was based out of Prince George and had close proximity to my hometown… and many ski hills! I grew up in this area so it was an easy transition back.

Curt Fowkes 2

JK: So what happened after your residency?

CF: Afterwards, I continued to work for Northern Health. At the time, they presented me with an excellent opportunity to work as a full time clinical pharmacist in their ICU. I stayed in that role for a few years, but the job gradually expanded into other areas and I began to miss a lot of the interaction I’d previously had with patients in the community.

Throughout my residency, and after, I had worked for a couple of pharmacists who owned two independent pharmacies in town. Their pharmacies had a huge range of variations to the services they provided, and had been locally owned in the community for forty years. I had always appreciated their practice, and how close they were with all of their patients. This is largely what led me to leave the hospital and work with them full time.

I worked hard for them for three or four years, allowing myself to be mentored in the business aspects of pharmacy, and the value of patient-pharmacist interactions. I did my best to build a clinical practice for myself in their stores, and gradually my role grew.

This summer a great opportunity came up where another local independent pharmacy owner was retiring, and I partnered with these new mentors of mine to purchase his pharmacy as an equal shareholder.

JK: That’s great! It sounds like a big part of the appeal of being a pharmacist is being a part of the community and getting to know people. Do you feel that’s how things have turned out for you?

CF: Yes, I think a huge part of our job as pharmacists is getting to know people. There is so much focus in school on theory and how to treat conditions, and manage them best for people, but you can’t do that as effectively without having a good relationship with the patient. It’s essential for people to receive good care, and have somebody that they can go to and talk to. I’m so glad I did the hospital residency because I definitely find that I am still incorporating clinical functions that I learned in my residency into my everyday practice. I also got to know a lot of physicians in town here and have built good relationships with them. This really helps me to advocate on behalf of my patients and make a difference for them.

JK: If you could go back to your pharmacy school self, what advice would you give to him?

CF: Keep your eyes open! You never know what kind of opportunities are going to come along your way, how life is going to change, or what you might come across. I think it’s good to gain any experience that you can. Keep your eyes open, look for opportunities to expand your knowledge, and think outside the box.

Any questions for Curt? Leave them in the comments or on Facebook.

Read Pathways in Pharmacy #1 with Mark Kunzli.

Learn more about our programs here.

Advice, Current Students, Interviews, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

Sandra Jarvis-Selinger on facilitating change, imposter syndrome, and finding balance

Meet Dr. Sandra Jarvis-Selinger, associate dean, academic. Dr. Jarvis-Selinger commenced here at UBC Pharm Sci in June, and is responsible for leading the academic portfolio. We caught up with Sandra to find out more about her academic background and experiences – and received some great advice in the process.

Sandra Jarvis-Selinger

Sandra Jarvis-Selinger

Tell us about yourself! What did you do before starting at UBC Pharm Sci this summer?
I began as associate dean, academic on June 15 of this year. Prior to that (Friday, June 12), I was the Director of Curriculum in the MD Undergraduate Program and assistant dean, faculty development in the UBC Faculty of Medicine. It was quite a shift being comfortable and knowledgeable in one role on a Friday and then being in a brand new role on Monday. In my early days I felt like an imposter!

Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Having grown up in Northern Ontario, I understood what the Canadian experience was like…cold, snow through the fall, winter and spring, and in the summer – mosquitos. Moving to Vancouver in 1992 changed my definition of the Canadian climate.

What did you study at University?
I had a very storied educational career. I completed a General Bachelor of Arts and an Honors BA in Political Sciences, thinking I wanted to go to law school. I have a Bachelor of Education, Masters of Educational Psychology, and finally finished a PhD in Human Learning, Development and Instruction. So through all of that I consider myself a Developmental Psychologist and (for quite a while) a professional student.

From your ‘professional’ student perspective, what advice would you share with students?
Balance is key. I know professional training programs raise the stakes of what you have to know, the time you spend immersed in learning everything new, and having to make critical transitions from classroom-based through simulation-based, to practice-based learning. But make sure you can balance everything you’re being asked to do and everything you want to do. Find time to connect with your classmates, family and friends. Balance what you’re doing now with time to think about where this is leading you. Even decisions that seem small can have big consequences. For example, I thought I was coming to UBC to do a two-year Masters program and would head right back to Thunder Bay. That was 22 years ago.

What are you most excited about in this new role?
I’m excited about facilitating the changes that are happening in our academic programs. I feel as an associate dean my role is to help make change possible, empower people to think differently, and then get out of the way and let it happen. I like being in a position to see success and feel that I can support teams to achieve their goals.

Current students: Every month Dr. Jarvis-Selinger will be sending you a “From the Desk of the ADA” email with news, updates, and advice. Stay tuned for details on an upcoming lunch event.

Teaching and Course Evaluations Reminder
For those of you who haven’t had a chance to complete your teaching and course evaluations yet, we strongly encourage you to complete them. Your thoughts, opinions, and suggestions matter to us.

Advice, Current Students, Interviews, Prospective Students

Pathways in Pharmacy #1: Mark Kunzli, BSc(Pharm)’07, ExecMBA’11

Pathways in Pharmacy is a new monthly series where we’ll learn about different career journeys that began with a pharmacy degree. This month, Mark Kunzli tells us about his journey to, through, from, and ultimately back to UBC Pharm Sci.

Mark Kunzli with his family

Mark (top left) with his family, June 2015. His late father Ken, brothers Matthew and Michael, sisters Kristi and Karli, and his nieces Hazel, Mia, and Rihlynn.

JK: Why did you decide to study pharmacy?

MK: While I’d like to say that it’s because I’ve had a passion for counting by fives and getting yelled at for prescriptions not being covered since I was a child, my path to (and then through) pharmacy was not linear.

After high school, I knew I wanted to pursue post-secondary education but had no idea what to study. I started out taking first-year Arts courses, and, after actually getting 0% on a paper in Sociology, decided that I was better suited to the more black and white world of science. So the following year, I took all first-year Sciences courses – but unfortunately brought my last-minute cramming/writing work ethic with me and my average took a hit.

I went into second-year science without any real direction, and a week into school I ran into a friend from the previous year who wasn’t in any of my classes. I asked what he was studying and he said he was re-taking all his first-year science courses to bring up his average to apply for the BSc(Pharm) program. That was the first time I’d thought of studying pharmacy. My best friend Luke LePage’s dad was a pharmacist, so I had a chat with him to find out more about what I could expect. I was initially attracted by the prospect of a stable job with a good income but the more I learned about pharmacy the more the profession appealed to me. Cliché I know, but I’ve always enjoyed helping people and am a social person, so the opportunity to interact with and build relationships with patients interested me.

Deciding that the third time would be the charm, I re-took all my first-year science courses in order to increase my average and apply for the BSc(Pharm) program. It worked!

JK: Tell us about your first foray into working as a pharmacist.

MK: After graduation I moved to the thriving metropolis of Campbell River, where I worked at Willow Point Peoples Drug Mart for Victor Choo. It was the middle of golf season, and Victor was an avid golfer. After showing me the ropes for a few weeks, he hit the links and I was left to find out what I was made of as a pharmacist. Outside of my clerkships, I hadn’t worked in a pharmacy before and freely admit that I was terrified and completely overwhelmed for those first couple of months. But when faced with the choice to sink or swim, I quickly decided that I’d leave the sinking (of putts) to Victor, and I learned to swim.

There were a few early lessons – like the time I made my first typo on a prescription, didn’t know how to correct it, and thought I’d forever be branded as illiterate by anyone looking at the patient’s PharmaNet profile. I also recall learning the very valuable lesson that some people have surnames that can also be used as first names and that doctors will occasionally write a patient’s last name first without punctuation in-between (are commas that hard to write?!). Thankfully the medical office assistant that received my frantic phone call was gentle when she told me that I was an idiot and I needed to switch the names around.

After a couple of months of almost daily phone calls to other pharmacists for help and getting to know everybody at tech support on a first-name basis, I’d found my way and was promoted to Pharmacy Manager.

JK: What are some key takeaways from this role?

MK: I worked at Willow Point Peoples Drug Mart for almost two years and consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had that opportunity. I’ve always liked the adage “why work hard when you can work smart?” and took a keen interest in streamlining pharmacy operations. I learned the pharmacy dispensing software inside-and-out, mainly through trial and error, but always made sure I understood why things worked the way they did. This gave me much greater insight into how to automate processes, and more importantly allowed me to investigate and help patients when they asked why certain things were covered when others weren’t.

I learned about the impact that drug coverage (or the lack thereof) has on compliance. I focused on finding win-win’s for the patient and the pharmacy, and found that minimizing out-of-cost expense for patients not only increased compliance, but increased loyalty beyond a transactional relationship. In doing so, I was able to earn the respect of both my patients and my physician colleagues while also seeing the business side of the pharmacy do quite well.

While those first few months saw many words (unsuitable for this blog) muttered under my breath, I had an awesome group of co-workers to support me and benefited tremendously from the autonomy I was given by Victor. With the benefit of experience, I realize now that the only words I should have been muttering were ‘thank you.’ I believe that a good working environment is half who you work with, and half what you make of it. I’ve always been very fortunate to work with great people.

JK: You have an Executive MBA in Healthcare Management. Why did you pursue this program and how has it complemented your pharmacy degree?

Executive MBA graduation, November 2011. Mark with his parents Ken and Kathy.

Executive MBA graduation, November 2011. Mark with his parents Ken and Kathy.

MK: Well, as I mentioned, after starting out as a pharmacist I found myself drawn to the operational and financial aspects of the profession. I left my first job in Campbell River to work as a relief pharmacist; starting a company and contracting myself as a locum around the province. I wanted the freedom to pick and choose when and where I worked, as well as the opportunity to learn how different pharmacies are run.

In late 2009 I ran into my former prof, Dr. Wayne Riggs, at an alumni event and inquired about opportunities to get involved with the Faculty again. He suggested I sit down with Dr. Ron Reid to discuss his efforts in bringing pharmacogenomics into pharmacy practice. I met Ron at Timmies and quickly saw the potential of this idea. While my front-line experience working as a pharmacist was enough to understand how genomics could be implemented in the pharmacy environment, I wanted to expand my knowledge to figure out how we could make it happen.

My dad had always suggested I consider studying for an MBA to complement my pharmacy degree. I ran the idea of the Executive MBA in Healthcare Management program by Ron and Wayne, who both encouraged me to go for it. What appealed to me about the program was the fact that it would allow me to continue to work as a pharmacist while studying, and also that I would be studying alongside, and learning from, people from other healthcare disciplines. As I went through the program I found that my view of the world expanded from very pharmacy-centric; to gaining an appreciation of where pharmacy fits into the healthcare system; to understanding how healthcare fits into the economy and society as a whole.

I was able to choose my own topics for MBA assignments. I focused on pharmacogenomics for most of my assignments, working very closely with Ron and Wayne on different aspects of how to bring pharmacogenomics into pharmacy practice. This work helped develop the foundation for my current role, where I work with Drs. Corey Nislow and Ron Reid on projects implementing pharmacist-led pharmacogenomics.

JK: What made you decide to take a different path from community pharmacy practice?

MK: I’m still a community pharmacist at heart! While I’m full-time in my position here at the Faculty, I do take shifts to keep myself up-to-date and able to appreciate what my colleagues are experiencing in the field. In terms of what led me here, it was a series of decisions to pursue what interested me most in pharmacy practice. Don’t get me wrong, I often miss interacting and building relationships with patients, but I’m competitive by nature and thrive on a challenge. In practice, this led to finding ways to optimize processes and seek out ways to continuously improve. This took me from the dispensary in Campbell River, to pharmacies throughout the province, and then into that conversation at Timmies with Ron. It was during that discussion (over our delicious and very reasonably-priced coffee) that I realized that my profession has a unique opportunity to make people healthier through pharmacogenomics. I wanted to contribute in any way I could. My need for a new challenge and continuing desire to give back to the profession led me to take a different path from community pharmacy practice but I wouldn’t be where I am today without Ron’s influence, Dr. Corey Nislow giving me an opportunity to actually do this, and the support of them and many others along the way.

JK: If you could go back and give some strongly worded advice to your pharmacy-school self, what would you tell him?

MK: Geez, my pharmacy-school self probably wouldn’t believe that my present-day self is even real!

Off the top, there’s my go-to piece of advice from Michael Scott, “Don’t be an idiot” ( There are numerous times when I would have benefited from hearing that in pharmacy school.

I think more than anything I’d encourage pharmacy student-me to always learn from failure. My road through school and life definitely could have been easier if I’d learned some lessons sooner, but my failures taught me important lessons and also made me appreciate my successes that much more. Case in point, I failed Ron’s class in pharmacy school (along with 15 of my classmates that year, for the record), and ended up leaving my summer job two weeks early to come to Vancouver and study to make sure I passed the supplemental. Ron walked by me one day in IRC and said “about time you did some studying.” He was right. And now, the topic of that same course that I didn’t understand the value of as a student – pharmacogenomics – is a huge part of my career and hopefully one day soon, my profession. And that same prof is one of my closest friends and most valued colleagues.

Mark and Ron Reid

Mark and Ron, Halloween 2014. You know you’ve been working with someone for too long when…

At the end of the day – do your best, but even when you fail you can learn a hell of a lot from it. Provided you’re not an idiot, of course!

Any questions for Mark? Leave them in the comments or on Facebook.

Mark Kunzli is Project Manager & Associate Director, UBC Sequencing Centre.

Learn more about our programs here.

Advice, Current Students, Interviews, Prospective Students

Carol Kuang on choosing electives, standing out, and scuba diving

Meet our new Recruitment & Admissions Officer, Carol Kuang. Carol joined us at UBC Pharm Sci in August and her goal is to help make applying for the Entry-to-Practice PharmD program as simple and transparent as possible. We sat down with Carol for a chat…

Carol Kuang

Carol Kuang

Tell us about yourself! What did you do before starting at UBC Pharm Sci this summer?
I moved to Vancouver earlier this year looking to get back into the higher education industry after a year-long hiatus trying out private sector recruitment. As it turned out, I really missed working with students so I am very excited to be back promoting higher education pathways.

Where are you from originally then? 
I consider myself a Calgarian, but my hometown is Charlottetown, PEI.

What did you study at university?
I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at the University of Calgary. The bulk of my upper-year electives were in behavioural and experimental economics. It basically shows that economic theories based on rational decision-making don’t actually predict much in the real world. Humans aren’t as rational as we like to think we are.

What are you most excited about in this role?
It’s a very exciting time to be a part of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. With the new program taking off, there’s a lot of great energy in the building and it feels like a good time for me to lay the groundwork for new recruitment initiatives. I am also excited to meet incredibly bright students, and get to know them from the start to the end of the recruitment cycle.

What advice would you share with students who are thinking about applying for the Entry-to-Practice PharmD program?
Educate yourself on the career options in Pharmacy. You’ll be surprised to learn that there are so many different pathways you can take. Having an understanding of the profession, our program, and the academic requirements to get there will help you set realistic expectations. Aside from the required coursework for admission, take electives that you’ll actually enjoy, not ones you think will look “better” on your transcript. Having that balance between academics, hobbies, and extracurriculars will most likely help you to get better grades, and become more well-rounded.

How can prospective students set themselves apart in the application process?
While grades are important, the crucial piece of the application process is the Multi-Mini Interview (MMI). This is your opportunity to stand out and to leave a lasting impression on the Faculty. It’s hard to give specific advice on how to do this, but there are MMI prep workshops out there. Mentally prepare for the intensity of the interviews, and show your confidence.

What do you do in your spare time? 
If I’m not in the office, or out getting my ice cream fix, you can usually find me picnicking in a park, biking/running/walking along the seawall, or scuba diving around Horseshoe Bay and the Howe Sound. By next year, I hope to own all of my dive gear so that I can volunteer as a diver with the Vancouver Aquarium.

What are you most looking forward to this fall?
I am looking forward to experiencing the recruitment cycle from start to finish, and organizing the MMIs!

If you have questions about applying for the Entry-to-Practice PharmD program, or would just like to chat about whether the program is the right fit for you, Carol is the person to talk to. You can join our bi-monthly Q&A sessions on Facebook, book in for an advising appointment, or meet Carol at a Program Information Evening.

Current Students, Interviews

Why Pharmacy? Your Story! – Next Steps

Over the past few weeks we have shared several of our student’s experiences studying at UBC Pharm Sci. We invite you to become a part of the community! Applications for the new Entry-to-Practice PharmD program will be closing on Monday, February 2nd



The application deadline is approaching! Here are the next steps in the admissions process:

February 2nd – Application Deadline

If you are a current UBC Student, you will need to fill out the Change of Program Application on the SSC; former UBC students fill out the Re-Admission Application on the SSC; and new-to-UBC students will need to create an account and complete their application through

The application includes a Personal Profile. The Personal Profile is an opportunity to share your interest in pharmacy, your extra-curricular activities, and referee information. Please note that we no longer require reference letters or PCAT scores.

Once you have applied, you will be contacted by the UBC Admissions Office with further instructions.

Late-March/Early-April – Interview Offers

We will extend interview offers to 300-350 well-qualified candidates.

May 2nd-3rd – Multiple-Mini Interviews (MMI)

The MMI was introduced to our admissions process in 2010. MMI’s are designed to holistically assess applicants. It involves rotating through 10 stations of 5 minutes each. Each station will present you with a different scenario or situation to respond to.

Late-May/Early-June – Admission Offers

Admission offers will be made to the first 224 selected E2P PharmD students.

If you have any questions or concerns along the way, please call (604) 822-0344, or email We wish you all the best with your application!

– Sefanit Habtom, Student Services