This section will spotlight a student who has come through the Health Professions Advising office at CSUF on their journey to professional school, and wishes to share his or her experiences and advice with current and future students.
Peter Nguyen - Future Pharmacist
Hello there! If you are reading this, you are probably a student interested in the health professions, a lost student meandering through the school website, or a member of the Health Professions office. If you happen to be one of the two former choices, this information is for YOU! Do you feel unsure, scared, or just overall lost about what you want to do with your future? Fear not, for majority of the students you have read about on this page were in your position not too long ago. As can be seen above, my name is Peter and my journey to Pharmacy School was not exactly the most conventional one, but it worked, and that is the important part. The following are some of the stepping stones I have crossed that ultimately led me to UCSF's School of Pharmacy.
1. I NEVER got my Pharm Tech License. I know, you probably heard from some students that you MUST have this in order to even apply to a pharmacy program, but I am living proof that this is a myth. Now do not get the wrong idea, if pharmacy is what you are interested in, it is extremely important to familiarize yourself with what you are planning to commit the rest of your life to. I got to know what pharmacy was like through doing various things, like calling inspirational pharmacists to discuss unique ways they are using their license and going down to Mexico with the members of Flying Samaritans to see how pharmacists and other health professionals help in different cultural settings. Bottom line is, do not apply to something without knowing it is 100% what you want to do.
2. Get involved in SOMETHING and if you are passionate about it, stick with it! While at CSUF, I joined the Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program and it changed my life (don't know what SI is? Here is a link http://news.fullerton.edu/news/2014sp/SI-funding.asp). In short, the SI program taught me to understand how to interact with students of differing backgrounds, showed me the importance of collaboration across disciplines, and reduced my fear of public speaking. Do all of these skills sound familiar? It should, because EVERY program out there claims their ideal student will possess these skills. Now what is the best way to demonstrate to the programs you are applying to that you have these skills? Should you join every club on campus? No! The point is not to stuff your resume with random experiences, but to grow and develop with certain few.
3. Now onto the application process. You know that fear you get when you write an essay and you refuse to show it to other people because you are afraid they will judge you? Take that fear, put it in a box, lock it up, and throw away that key because that is a fear you MUST get over to be successful in your life. Believe me, I understand the fear. When it came to my pharmacy school essays, I did not want anybody to read them, but I bit the bullet and allowed anyone and everyone to read them, and I am very glad I did. My research advisor, my English professor, and several of my friends all gave me the necessary push to write that behemoth of an essay. You really get to find out who you are through the eyes of your family and friends during this process.
4. Once the essays are all done, we have the beloved interviews. For those of you who have never interviewed for anything before, try not to panic. The purpose of the interview is not only to find out if you are a right fit for the school's program, but to find out if they are the right fit for you! If you act like anybody other than yourself, and they accept you, did they really accept you? Although I hate clichés, not being yourself in an interview will really hurt you in the future.
P.S. avoid trying to find interview questions through websites like Student Doctor Network. If your answers are prepared and not organic, you may come off as fake, and the last thing a school wants is a fake version of yourself!
Trust me guys, CSUF really prepares you and there are tons of people who you can get advice from, but in the end, your application story will be different from everyone else's. Definitely seek out help from people when you need it, but I believe that these professional schools want to see you carve out a unique identity for yourself. The health professions are undergoing drastic changes, and who knows, maybe it will be the applicants with the unusual experiences will be the one that is most desirable.
Leaving my mark,