To work or not to work? That is the question…

As a student admission ambassador, I often get asked a lot of questions regarding whether students should work during their first year. I remembered wondering about the same thing when I first started school. I’ve always worked throughout my undergrad years and not having a job somehow makes me feel sort of “insecure”. But at the same time I thought I should focus more on school since I knew that pharmacy school is completely different than undergrad. I told myself that I would just get a job once I get used to the pharmacy school life. One day, I got an email saying that a community pharmacy is hiring first-year students. As much as I told myself that I should wait, I applied right away. The inner me just couldn’t stand not having a job…plus the extra cash is always nice! So here I am, been working since September and I’d say having a job during first year is actually quite manageable. I work one weeknight per week and every other weekend. It doesn’t really interfere with my studying at all, it rather improves my time management skills – I make sure that I get all the homework and studying done if I have to work on a weekend. One thing I like working at a community pharmacy is that I get a lot of interactions with patients from different backgrounds. Another thing is that you get to learn the brand and generic names of medications. Sometimes I see over-the-counter medications that I learned in lab and I’m always thinking, “I totally just learned about this med! I know how this med works and what to educate the patients!”.

So that’s just my opinion… you don’t necessarily have to work during your first year. There is no rush at all. In fact, you will get a lot of emails regarding internships during your second semester (which is happening right now)! You WILL eventually find something sooner or later 🙂

Picture of the week:

sallysUs first-year students de-stressing at a local bar after finishing two exams and a heavy homework load week!

Deep Portage Pharmaceutical Care Conference!

Hi guys!
It’s has been a busy past couple of weeks with Vietnamese New Year, school, work, PD4 paper, and planning for our Haiti trip. We will update you more on our trip soon so stay tuned.  Attached are some pictures of us at the Deep Portage Pharmaceutical Care Conference this past weekend.  The purpose of the meeting is to bring individuals from different health care venues (practitioners, administrators, students, and clients) together to discuss the practice of pharmaceutical care and the delivery of medication management services, in a natural environment to stimulate new ideas and “cutting edge” opportunities to better care for patients and their medications.  It was great to see our old professor, Dr. Brian Isetts, who has been working at CMS in Washington DC and Dr. Linda Strand, the person who co-wrote our Pharmaceutical Care textbook!

-Phat & Kim

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Taking Pharmacy Passion to the Legislature! MPhA Leadership Rotation


Cheers to Making A Difference!!

I’m currently on a leadership rotation (my 6th of 8 rotations this year) at the Minnesota Pharmacists Association. It has been wonderful!! MPhA represents all pharmacy avenues (community, hospital, MTM, industry, managed care, technicians, students etc) in one collective voice to promote and improve the profession of pharmacy and represent those concerns to the legislature. They also provide lots of great tools and resources to pharmacists, technicians, and students, including educational events, legislative updates, magazines on important issues, and fun social events like the annual Wine Tasting & Gourmet Dinner, which I was lucky enough to get to attend!!

With my Preceptors, Michelle Aytay and Julie Johnson at the MPhF Wine Tasting and Gourmet Dinner Event!

I feel like I completely lucked out on timing, getting to be here while legislation is in session has provided me with a lot of really unique opportunities to see the capitol in motion, learn a lot about current policy topics (an interest area of mine!), and see how MPhA and other pharmacy organizations are involved in protecting and advancing our profession. Here are just a few of the really awesome things I have gotten to do so far:

  • Tour the Minnesota Captiol building (Wow, it is beautiful! Super fun field trip!).

    MN Capitol Building! I have really enjoyed attending sessions there.


  • Attend a number of committee legislative sessions at the capitol, mostly on health and human services topics.
  • Develop the agenda and issue briefs for Legislative Day (Feb 19th) and discuss these with the UMN Students. Though we don’t have any bills in the senate, there are many awesome topics this year, including:
    • Pharmacy Practice Act changes: Speaking to our legislators about how the profession has changed, and recognizing pharmacists as patient care providers rather than medication dispensers.
    • Compounding: Reviewing the difference between compounding and manufacturing, where the boundaries are in MN pharmacy practice, the importance of this relative to the NECC meningitis outbreak, and any change the MN Board of Pharmacy is planning to make to language.
    • Biosimilars: Rreviewing what they are- essentially generic versions of biologic drugs, none are the market yet, but they are being presented to the FDA for testing and may hit the market soon, and issues to consider for future legislation regarding pharmacy substitution practices.MPhA!
    • Pseudoephedrine Reporting: Reviewing the pros and cons of the NPLEx system, an online reporting system with multiple states participating so  that purchases can be tracked nationally.
    • Board of Pharmacy updates: Including changes in language for immunizing, electronic prescription records, and the prescription monitoring program.
    • Help and enjoy the MPhF Wine Tasting event!
    • Attend and serve on MPhA Board meetings, team meetings, steering committees, etc, as well as attend a Board of Pharmacy Meeting
    • Weigh in with the awesome MPhA/Ewald staff on pharmacy topics ranging from developing the magazine to communication items!

Really looking forward to the Annual Meeting!

I’d like to say an extra big thank you to my preceptor Julie Johnson, my adopted preceptors- Michelle Aytay and Jacquie Jaskowiak, I am learning so much from you and  really enjoying working with you! Thank you also to the entire MPhA staff who are making me feel super welcome – I am so honored that they seek out and take my advice!!

Cheers from a very happy PD4-

Love, BK (as always, feel free to contact me!



PS- Have been sucked into the Doctor Who reboot fan club. In case any of you are too, keep calm and don’t blink! 🙂 If you can message me what that’s in reference to -extra props.

Having Fun During Patient Assessment


We learned how to measure blood pressure the tradition way. That’s right, using a blood pressure cuff!


And this week we learned how to perform ear examination. I wasn’t supposed to laugh.. but I couldn’t help it because it was ticklish 😛

Pharmacy School Application Process: A Systematic Review of the Chaos

Seeing the nervous interviewees around the College of Pharmacy brings back the memories that seem so far away but were really only two years ago! I remember the entire pharmacy school application process was incredibly busy and stressful. I ended up flying all over the country from California (twice), Arizona, Colorado, and Minnesota and got lots of interview practice. Here are some tips for the process as well as some of the reasons I chose to come to Minnesota.

Application: START EARLY! I remember many of my undergraduate friends frantically trying to get all the pieces for their application in on time. It did not work out well for many of them. Particularly, I would start developing relationships with people as early as possible for letters of recommendation. I found people from both my job and professors. I believe it is more important what the person says about you than who the person saying them is.

Interview: Practice, practice, practice. I remember I would have mock interviews in the shower quite frequently (ya it interfered with my singing, but probably worth it). The most important part of the interview in my mind was letting them know who I was as a person and explaining why I wanted to care for patients. Another little hint is that many schools will give you the name of the person interviewing you the day of your interview. This is a great chance to bust out the smartphone for a little internet search (or many professors have information hung around the hallways). This way you can bring up topics that your interviewer is interested in and it will also make it look as though you are incredibly interested in the program. Most of all be yourself and connect with your interviewers as people.

Decision time: I know for me once I got my first acceptance I was so excited and happy, but as more came in and deadlines for deposits started coming  it became evident that I would have to make an incredibly hard decision. One bit of advice for any of you who may come into this problem is if you call and ask for extensions on deposits most programs will give you a little room. In the end, my family and I decided moving to the Twin Cities was the best choice for us for several reasons:

1. The campus- I had never seen the U of M campus but while I visited for my interview I was blown away. The Academic Health Center, as well as the U of M campus as a whole are beautiful with plenty of places to keep busy no matter what you are into.

2. The faculty- The world renowned faculty and innovators in the profession gave me confidence that I would receive the best education here.

3. The progressive nature of pharmacy in Minnesota- I wanted to be part of the evolution of Pharmacy and see it from the front lines. In fact many of the residencies I had been looking at before pharmacy school had many of their residents graduate from the U of M

4. Minnesota- A great place to raise a family, good education, seasons, good public transportation/traffic, and a relatively low cost of living (compared to some other places).

Looking back I often wonder what it would be like if I had chosen to attend a different school, or live in a different state, but I am confident that I made the right decision. If you have any questions about the process or any specifics feel free to ask!

In other big news…. It’s a girl!



Doesn’t my son look SOOOOO excited? HAHA

T-minus 35 days until Haiti!!

Good Friday blog followers!

As the title states, we have just over a month to go until our much anticipated trip to Haiti over the spring break. My brother and I are members of Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity (one of the professional fraternity in the CoP), and within the fraternity is a group called REACHHaiti. This group was formed in 2011. REACHHaiti’s mission is to provide sustainable health care in SE Haiti by educating the community, improving hygiene, providing immunizations, and working towards building a permanent clinic in Chabin, Haiti. With lots of planning and coordination, REACHHaiti was able to send its first group of students (pharmacy and nursing students) and pharmacists to Haiti during spring break of 2012. They were able to set up a temporary clinic in a school house for the week, and served patients with a wide range of medical needs.

This coming spring break, we will get a chance to visit the rural town of Chabin, Haiti, and serve the local people with our team of pharmacy students, nurses, pharmacist, and physicians. There is still a lot of planning to get done, however, it will be well worth the effort. We cannot wait to share our experiences with you guys. Please check back mid-March to see updates from us in Haiti!!

Here are some pictures from last year’s trip in the meantime. Have a great weekend!!

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Interview Tips

Hope everyone is surviving this cold Minnesota winter. It’s been a cold and icy week. I actually slipped and fell twice this week. Good thing I didn’t get any serious injuries…  Be careful when you walk on the icy ground so you don’t end up falling like me… 🙂

Just a recap of what I’ve been doing last week. Besides going to classes, I gave a tour for prospective students on interview day. Seeing the interviewees reminded me the day when I had my interview. I remembered I got my interview invite from the University of Minnesota exactly one week before the interview date. I immediately had a panic attack (well, not really) thinking one week was too short for me to prepare for the interview. On top of that, I had to go buy a suit! That week was probably the most anti-social week of my life – I went online and found some possible interview questions and practiced with my friends. For some reason, the more I practiced, I more nervous I got. My interview was at 8am that day and I couldn’t sleep at all the night before. All I could think of was the interview questions…

My interview group was split into two subgroups. One group would interview first while the other group would go on a tour. I had my interview first and you have no idea how nervous I was. I went into the room shaking, and my interviewer definitely could tell that I was nervous. She held my hands and told me to relax. The whole interview lasted for about 50 minutes. At the end of the interview I just felt like drinking a gallon of water! HAHA!

I know I’m probably not the best person to give any interview tips, but I’ll still go ahead and do that. Everyone is different and you don’t necessarily have to take my advice 🙂

Something that I kept telling myself to do. I know it is hard to do but just take a deep breath 🙂

Your interviewer knows nothing about your PCAT scores, GPA, recommendation letters. The interview serves as an opportunity for the interviewer to get to know you and see if you’re a good fit for the program. Do not give brief answers. The more you talk about your personal experiences, the more they are able to assess you as a person. Always try to elaborate your answers!

Sometimes you will get questions that completely throw you off. First of all, do not panic! My interviewer asked me an ethical question and she wanted to know what I would do in that scenario if I was a pharmacist. I paused and asked if I could have a moment to think about the answers. You don’t want to start answering right away and sound disorganized. Allow yourself some time to formulate your answers.

Smile and tell them how much you love pharmacy 🙂

Always thank your interviewer for taking their time to interview you. Your interviewer probably interviews quite a few of students each semester. Sending them a thank-you card not only shows your appreciation, it also helps them remembering who you are!

Good luck to you all!

Picture of the week:

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 11.48.38 AMFirst-year ladies at the Pharmacy Gala!

First Interview Day in February

Hi guys!

Wrapping up a good and chillaxing week of school 🙂  It was super cold today, -17 degrees, but surprisingly over half of our class came to school today!  It was so cold that even my iced coffee had its own earmuff!

Iced coffee

How do you survive in such weather you say?  North Face gear & SmartWool socks! 🙂  Today was also the first interview day of February.  My sister was helping with the student panel and thanks to my fellow classmate, Susan Anderson for covering for me.  I completely forgot that I had another meeting at the same time.  Hopefully the weather today did not deter our interviewees from joining us at the University of Minnesota!  Below are some pictures from today and also some more pictures from the Student-Run Free Clinics Conference last weekend courtesy of Dr. Sick, Medical Director for the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic.



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