Admissions, Prospective Students

Getting started with pharmacy prerequisites

‘Tis the season for course registration! Trying to figure out which courses you need to take to to prepare for your pharmacy application can be daunting, especially if you’re entering your first year of university.

UBC in the fall. Hover Collective.

We are hosting an Information Evening on Wednesday, June 14th for anyone who is interested in learning more about our Entry-to-Practice PharmD program and what you need to meet our admission requirements.

Date: Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Time: 5.00-6.30 p.m.
Location: Room 1101
Pharmaceutical Sciences Building
2405 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, BC

To learn more and RSVP, click here.

— Carol Kuang, Recruitment and Admissions Officer

Advice, Current Students, General Interest

How I Found a Job After Graduation #3: Emma Kim

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 credit: Hover Collective

Here’s how Emma Kim, BSc(Pharm)’15, found her first job after graduation.

What was your first job after graduating from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences?
I work as a community pharmacist for an independent group with pharmacies in West Kelowna and Keremeos. My daily tasks include dispensary and clinical work (vaccinations, travel consults, lung clinics, medication reviews). I also spend time promoting public education and community outreach initiatives (including prescribers and patients).

Tell us how you found employment after graduating.
Due my previous training in genetics research, I was heavily involved in UBC/BCPhA’s pharmacogenomics research. While a pharmacy student at UBC, I was also the lab rat extracting/testing DNA from saliva! I also helped to train pharmacists in the BC Interior health region on this clinical study and that’s how I met the pharmacy team that I work with today. I have received many offers but I like my practice now because our team focuses on what I care about –  community involvement and clinical services.

Do you have any advice about finding employment for students who are about to graduate?
Find out what you want out of your career. Do you want to focus on business development? Clinical services? Academics? Teaching?

Do more than schooling and start early! Aim to get to know people in the specialty area you want to pursue. Ask them for a coffee break, job shadowing, etc.

Involvement with BCPhA, CPhA, research projects and collaboration projects are also great. Attend conferences to build connections. All the neat experiences I came across happened through networking and extra projects. They say the best job is not posted and it’s true!

While being a student, try to work for many different types of employers e.g. many corporate/independents for community based pharmacies. Weigh the pros and cons as a student through work/clerkship so that you find out what kind of you want when you graduate.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get your dream job right away. But keep investing in yourself with extra training and qualifications and keep talking to people. If you don’t get your dream job after all this, create one for yourself!

Read our previous interviews with Brett Chiasson and Moh Kazem. Interview by Karie Hanson.

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.)

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

Rethinking Your Approach to Learning: How I Study in Pharmacy School

Disclaimer: The opinions in the following article are my own. I do not speak on behalf of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 

UBC Pharm Sci students

So, you made it into pharmacy school. You’re looking at an exciting four years that will help to shape you into the best pharmacist you can be. I remember starting my first year at UBC Pharm Sci feeling the way many others do: ambitious and passionate to learn.

Despite being a good student with a positive attitude, I realized over time that I needed to change my approach to learning if I were to be successful in this faculty. More importantly, I needed to make those changes if I wanted to be a competent pharmacist.

If I had to summarize how my studying mindset needed to change, it would be this: I had to realize that I am not only studying for exams – I am studying to become a competent practitioner. Though that statement may sound obvious, it summarizes the mindset that pharmacy students need to adopt to be successful in their careers.

Now, of course you need to pass your exams and aim for good grades. But if you only study with the question “What do I need to know for the test?” in mind, then you don’t allow yourself to be curious, and curiosity is key to learning.

To put this in context: an instructor may tell you that a complication of untreated high blood pressure (hypertension) is the development of chronic kidney disease (CKD). When studying for your exam, don’t just memorize this fact; ask yourself “why?” and look up the pathophysiological mechanisms that explain how high blood pressure can result in CKD — even if it wasn’t covered in class.

Asking yourself questions while studying, particularly those not answered in class, and finding answers to these questions has the benefit of solidifying your learning. You can imagine that most patients won’t be happy with “I didn’t learn about that in school” as an answer to their questions. And beyond that, it trains you to develop the skills that you will need as a future clinician. No pharmacist (or any other health care practitioner for that matter) can have all the answers to everything. Continued education is important for any clinician and, if you make a habit of self-studying while in school, self-studying outside of school where you no longer have the benefit of instructors guiding you becomes a lot easier. Furthermore, asking questions is fundamental to skepticism and, as clinicians working in a science driven, evidence-based practice, it’s important that you be a skeptic when appraising the literature on drug therapies to accurately assess their safety and effectiveness.

Furthermore, by asking questions and really engaging with the study materials, you will train yourself to think critically. Critical thinking is a key skill for all pharmacists. The ability to take in information, consider all angles, make an assessment, and then decide (with your patient’s personal values in mind) on a course of action is all part of the clinical decision making process.

If you’re reading this as a prospective student and feeling intimidated – don’t be! You will be in the right environment to develop this new mindset and foster your new skills. You have four years to practice, and experienced instructors to help guide you along. All that’s needed from you is the willingness to be curious, to be a skeptic, and to not forget what it is that you’re really studying for.

So next time you’re studying, ask yourself this: “Do I feel competent enough to manage and treat patients with this condition?”

You owe it to yourself and your future patients to become the best pharmacist that you can be.

— John Groumoutis

John is a third year student in the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy program. John is a member of the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists, and is an advocate for clinical pharmacy. Beyond pharmacy, John is interested in philosophy. In his spare time he enjoys reading or watching science fiction, and boxing.

Current Students, General Interest, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

“What’s in your bag?” Pharmacy Student Edition

UBC Pharm Sci Student Ambassadors

UBC Pharm Sci Student Ambassadors

There’s no doubt that our pharmacy students spend a lot of time on campus, often relying on what’s packed in their bag to help them get through the day. We asked our Pharm Sci student ambassadors: what’s in your bag that you can’t go a day without? Here’s what they had to say:

Lisa: “Fingerless gloves are a staple for me during the winter months. They’re extremely useful when you require the finger dexterity to type notes or use a touch screen. Also, instant coffee or tea bags provide that caffeine boost necessary to stay awake at a Monday morning lecture or a late night studying session. As the weather gets gloomier, it’s more convenient to come prepared so that I don’t have to trek outdoors in search of a hot drink.”

John: “I can’t go without my copy of the RxFiles. It’s an extremely handy resource that allows you to look up the treatments and management of disease states in a pinch. It provides tons of information in a compact manner, and even provides evidence and citations from major randomized controlled trials.”

Melina: “The two things I can’t live without in my school bag are my lip balm and calendar. I really can’t stand dry lips because it’s so uncomfortable and just drives me nuts. My calendar basically has my life in it. I have all my exams, meetings, events and appointments in there.”

Alex: “Napkins. When it comes to eating I’m a bit of a slob, so having a few close-by during lectures really pays off. Whether it be for wiping spills or a runny nose, napkins are essential. Also, Fluxx. It’s a small card game I pull out whenever I have a break between classes. It’s a fun game with rules that keep changing. Somehow, I find peace within this chaotic game.”

Questions for our student ambassadors? Leave a comment below or on Facebook.


Advice, Current Students, General Interest, Life at UBC Pharm Sci

Practical Advice for Perfectionists: Creating a Healthier Work Ethic

Happy New Year everyone! It’s time to focus on your studies again. Rather than talking about setting a New Year’s goal, I would like to talk to students who have a habit of setting sky high goals, and are continually adding to the long list of achievements they would like to accomplish.

Students in IKB

Students in the UBC Irving K Barber Learning Centre. Image credit: Martin Dee / UBC Communications & Marketing.

This blog post is for students that fall into the perfectionist category, and chances are you can identify if you fall into that category even a little. I spoke with Rachel Vella-Zarb and Alex Daros from UBC Counselling Services to find out more about perfectionism and how we can move towards a healthier work ethic.

What are some characteristics or habits of a perfectionist?
Whether we are aware of it or not, we all evaluate how worthwhile we think we are as person based on some kind of personal evaluation system. We may think we are a worthwhile person if we are kind or helpful, we may think we are worthwhile if we are attractive or thin, we may think we are worthwhile if we have a good job or make a significant amount of money.

In perfectionism, self-worth is based largely on achievement or performance. Perfectionism involves setting excessively high personal standards and striving to meet them at all costs. Along with these high standards, perfectionists often don’t take into account that setbacks and mistakes are normal and a part of learning. They may also have difficulty when emotions and motivation fluctuate. When standards are not met, perfectionists become highly self-critical. This then pushes them to set even higher standards or avoid trying entirely. When standards are (temporarily) met, perfectionists often experience minimal satisfaction from these achievements. Instead, meeting their goal is often dismissed as meaning the goal was “too easy,” and higher standards are then set.

What are some characteristics or habits of someone with a healthy work ethic?
When it comes to a “healthy pursuit of excellence” as opposed to perfectionism, self-worth is based on several different factors, not just performance. For example, achievement may be very important to someone but it may also important to them to be a good sister, friend, or daughter. When high standards are set, they are high but not objectively excessively high.

If standards are met, that person takes pride and satisfaction in this accomplishment by celebrating their success. If standards are not met, the person considers what went wrong and revises their goals or problem solves for next time. A healthy mindset means accepting that mistakes and even failures are possible and we can learn from these moments. A healthy work ethic means aiming for “very good,” not flawless. It also means distributing time and energy across different areas of importance, not putting it all into work. It involves recognizing that it’s normal for emotions to fluctuate and it is important to take care of oneself during stressful times.

What are some reasons a person may be a perfectionist?
Some people are more perfectionistic than others for a variety of reasons. It may be in part due to genetics, and in part due to learning from others (e.g., parents, teachers, siblings). Many people who are perfectionistic have been rewarded for their efforts and achievements and therefore place emphasis on this area of their life. They may have learned to set high goals and work towards them but find that over time, their standards become higher and higher and self-criticism becomes more and more demanding to the point where it is not helpful and instead causes problems. Over time, perfectionism is maintained by rigid standards, emphasis on achievement, discounting successes, overemphasizing setbacks, and frequent negative self-evaluation and self-criticism.

How can we move from perfectionism to a more healthy work ethic?
Perfectionists are often reluctant to make changes because they fear “lowering their standards.” Changing perfectionism is not about lowering standards, but rather it is about considering ways that achievement can be better met and considering whether it’s helpful to base self-worth so heavily on achievement. Many people believe that the harder you work, the better you do; actually, research indicates that that with too much effort, performance tails off or doesn’t get incrementally better.

People who want to adjust their perfectionistic behaviours may want to work on two main areas: (1) their thoughts or self-talk and (2) their behaviours. From a cognitive perspective, you can begin by talking to yourself as if you were a good coach. A good coach doesn’t offer constant criticism or set higher and higher goals, rather a good coach offers positive feedback and constructive suggestions. When you catch yourself setting high standards or evaluating yourself negatively, you can ask “are these expectations reasonable given the circumstances?” “what are the costs and benefits of pursuing this goal in this way?” and “what would I say to someone I was mentoring or coaching if they felt this way?”

Another strategy is to be mindful of what’s going well in your life, as perfectionists often tend to discount successes. One way to challenge this attitude is to keep track of three good things per day (big or small). Keep these good things recorded on a piece of paper and continue to follow-up by adding new things each day. This can become a good motivational piece when displayed in your office or where you study.

From a behavioural perspective, you can begin to look at some of the behaviours that maintain perfectionism, for example over-preparing, re-reading, repeated checking, or excessive planning. Once you’ve identified these areas, you can try some behavioural experiments where you work for one week at your current level of effort, and then one week at 80% effort, and compare the outcomes. For example, if you notice that you tend to re-read emails at least three times to scan them for errors before sending them, try doing this for one week and record the outcomes (i.e., how many mistakes you make that others notice and how many mistakes you make that have significant outcomes). Then spend the next week re-reading emails once and note the same outcomes. Figuring out how to cut back time spent on lower priority tasks is an important part of being efficient.

For some additional work on perfectionism, check out the following book recommendations:

Antony, M.M., & Swinson, R. (2009). When perfect isn’t good enough: Strategies for coping with perfectionism (2nd edition). New Harbinger Publications.

Ben-Shahar, T. (2010). Being happy: you don’t have to be perfect to lead a richer, happier life. McGraw-Hill.


If this blog post resonates with you, why not give some of these suggestions a try this year! After reading through Rachel and Alex’s advice, I think it would be helpful to write down your thought patterns about grades and studying, and also write down what your goals are in school and extracurricular involvement. Once you’ve written your goals and thought patterns, you can experiment with what a reasonable goal could be. You can also identify your common thought patterns, making it easier to see them creep up while studying.

What would happen if you studied and worked on assignments without the sky-high goals? Experimenting with ways to move into a healthier work ethic can help you in your studying, career, and personal life for years to come.

Wishing you all ease and happiness in 2017!

Karie Hanson. Karie is the Program Advisor and Manager for the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She is originally from Sherwood Park, Alberta, and graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Arts in Recreation, Sport and Tourism. Outside of work, Karie enjoys playing baseball, basketball, walking the seawall, and volunteering with older adults.

If you feel that you need some additional support and would like to speak with a counsellor, you can visit UBC Counselling Services during their drop-in hours to meet with a Wellness Advisor. There are two Counselling Services locations on campus, and you can find their contact information, drop-in hours, and general information here.

Admissions, Advice, Prospective Students

Update for Entry-to-Practice PharmD Applicants: 2017 Reminders

As we are approaching the New Year, we are also coming up on some very important admission deadlines. The Entry-to-Practice PharmD application deadline is January 15, 2017, which is only a few weeks away! Here are a few things to be aware of as we get into the busiest part of the admissions process.

Official transcripts from every post-secondary institution that you attended are required. After you apply for admission, the Undergraduate Admissions Office will review your application for completion and determine which documents are needed. You should receive an email listing the status of your documents within a few business days. However, January is a very busy time for admissions so you can expect delays processing your application and transcripts. This is why it is in your best interest to submit your application early so that you will find out which documents are needed well before the application deadline. You can also find this list on your Student Service Centre (SSC) in the “Application Status” page; this is also the best place to find out if your transcripts have been received.

For students currently studying at a post-secondary institution, your transcript needs to include final grades for courses that are completed up to December 2016. We suggest waiting to order your transcript until these grades are available.

All transcripts must be sent directly from your institution to the Undergraduate Admissions Office, and not the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Transcripts can be addressed to:

The University of British Columbia
Undergraduate Admissions Office
2016-1874 East Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1

If you attended, or are attending, UBC or UBCO, you do not have to order your UBC transcripts.

Application Q&A Session
We will be hosting an online Applicant Q&A Session on January 11, 2017 at 12:00 PM Pacific Time. This is an online discussion forum for applicants to ask us your last minute questions before the application closes. You will be able to post questions and have them answered in real time, and see what others are asking.

Registration is required before January 10, 2017.

Office Closures
The Office of Student Services will be closed from December 24, 2016 through January 2, 2017. To find out how this closure will impact our admissions advising services, please visit our website.

We wish everyone a warm and safe holiday season! See you in the New Year!

— Carol Kuang, Recruitment and Admissions Officer

Admissions, Advice, Prospective Students

Your Pharmacy Application: On Volunteering, Extra-Curriculars, and Work Experience

 We often receive questions on how to improve your pharmacy application. One suggestion would be to work on achieving competitive grades, but being “book smart” is not the only attribute that will make you a great candidate for our program.


To be a pharmacist is to be committed to patient care and improving health care outcomes. Thinking about the pharmacy profession in this framework should give you a better understanding of the skills and qualities you need to be a good pharmacist and a strong applicant to the PharmD program.

If you have already started the online application, you’ll notice that we ask our applicants to complete a personal profile. The personal profile is an opportunity for you to tell us about your experiences, achievements and learnings, in or outside of the classroom, that cannot be demonstrated through your academic transcript. While we do not ask for a minimum number of volunteer hours or work experience, or give preference to those with a long list of extra-curricular activities, it is important to take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned from these types of experiences.

In summary, the personal profile is your opportunity to tell us about yourself and the achievements we can’t learn about from your transcript alone. This is one of the important ways that we assess the qualitative attributes that are so important in your journey to becoming a pharmacist.

— Carol Kuang, Recruitment and Admissions Officer

Admissions, Prospective Students

Admissions Update: Applications for Winter 2017 are now open

The Winter 2017 undergraduate application is now available online! This means that you can now begin filling out your application for the Entry-to-Practice PharmD program.

There are a few ways to access this application, and it depends on your current student status:

Applicants from outside UBC can access the UBC application online at:

Current UBC students can access the Change of Program application online, via the Student Service Centre (SSC): The Change of Program form is located under the Registration tab.

Former UBC students can apply online to be readmitted via the Student Service Centre (SSC): The Readmission form is located under the Admissions tab.

Current UBC students who are planning to graduate at the end of this Winter session should still apply through the Change of Program application in the SSC.

We encourage everyone to apply early rather than waiting till the deadline to submit your application. There are several sections of the application that may require some time to prepare such as the Personal Profile section. These questions require some thought, so it is best to give yourself some time. Also, you will be required to provide the contact information for two referees who can speak to and verify some of the activities that you plan to write about, but they will not be expected to write reference letters.


Finally, it is important to stay on top of application and transcript deadlines once you apply. Be sure to check your emails regularly for updates from our Faculty and from the Undergraduate Admissions Office. More information on admissions deadlines and how to apply can be found here.

If you would like to attend an information session, we will be hosting Information Evenings where you can have your questions answered, meet Faculty, staff, and students, and see our learning spaces. The dates for this year are as follows:

  • Wednesday, September 28, 2016 5:30 PM-8:00 PM RSVP
  • Wednesday, October 26, 2016 5:30 PM-8:00 PM RSVP
  • Wednesday, November 23, 2016 5:30 PM-8:00 PM RSVP

Registering is strongly recommended.

Good luck, and we are looking forward to meeting our next pool of pharmacy applicants!

– Carol Kuang, Recruitment and Admissions Officer