More than 4,000 Pacific doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) alumni have something in common: they started their journey to becoming highly skilled, patient-centered pharmacists as undergraduate students at Pacific.
“The Pre-Pharmacy Advantage Program has been around since 1955,” said Marcus C. Ravnan ’94, PharmD, FCSHP, FASHP, professor of pharmacy practice and associate dean for student affairs and enrollment management. “The School has more than 10,000 pharmacy alumni and approximately 4,000 of those were Pacific pre-pharmacy students.”
Starting the first semester, pre-pharmacy students are assigned a pharmacy faculty member as their academic advisor. “The faculty advisors are specifically focused on pharmacy education, pharmacy school prerequisites and pharmacy curricular outcomes achievement. In many cases, we have pharmacists bringing up pharmacists,” Dr. Ravnan said.
“Having a faculty advisor who currently teaches at the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy is a great asset in working through my undergrad years and making sure I’m prepared for that next step in my education,” said current pre-pharmacy student Olivia Laprade ’24. “I’ve received a lot of advice, all of which has helped me to learn how to more effectively plan ahead, whether it be figuring out my classes for the next semester or the steps I should be taking now to prepare for my future career.”
Christopher Ha ’23 was torn between a career in nursing or pharmacy until he was accepted to Pacific’s Pre-Pharmacy Advantage Program. Having completed his pre-pharmacy studies, this year he is starting the PharmD program. “My advisor was a reliable resource who gave me guidance throughout my undergraduate experience and made the process of advancing into the PharmD program clear and less daunting,” Ha said.
For more than 25 years, John Livesey, PhD, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology, has served as a pre-pharmacy faculty advisor, offering guidance to more than 600 students. “It is rewarding to see the students mature,” Dr. Livesey said. “The transformation from newly minted high school graduates to professional health care students advancing into the PharmD program can be quite a big change, sometimes with significant challenges along the way. It is great to see those students later in the classes I teach and then to see them at commencement, ready to launch into their pharmacy careers.”
Dr. Ravnan and the Office of Pre-Pharmacy staff maintain an open-door policy to provide additional assistance and support to students. As a freshman, Laprade often visited the staff to help her adjust to college life and understand the intricacies of the fast-paced curriculum. “Everyone in the office is always friendly and willing to help,” she said. “I was able to get very thorough answers for all my questions, whether they be about transferring coursework or registering for classes.”
“My advisor was a reliable resource who gave me guidance throughout my undergraduate experience and made the process of advancing into the PharmD program clear and less daunting.”- Christopher Ha ’23
In addition to academic preparedness, students also must develop and apply habits that will help them succeed in the program. Dr. Ravnan encourages students to be disciplined with time management and make a commitment to their academics. “Students need to practice intense studying and create a learning atmosphere so they can learn with purpose,” he said. “They should surround themselves with people who have similar learning and personal achievement goals and convictions.”
Drs. Ravnan and Livesey also encourage students to take advantage of campus life. “Some of the most successful students are exploring courses and co-curricular activities that tickle their curiosity and inspire their creativity and passion for service,” Dr. Livesey said.
“There are countless opportunities to get involved on campus like the Pre-Pharmacy Society, the four pharmacy fraternities and multiple student-run committees,” Ha said. “I can say with certainty that I am confident in my career choice because Pacific has provided me the opportunity and guidance to learn about the industry and get hands-on experience working in a pharmacy.”
Additional Benefits of the Pre-Pharmacy Advantage Program
Pharmacy Orientation Course
The Pharmacy Orientation course, known as PharmO, provides pre-pharmacy freshmen a glimpse into a PharmD education. Students learn basic pharmaceutical calculations and practice skills such as sterile compounding, aseptic technique and prescription interpretation and filling. They also hear from guest speakers who discuss the various pharmacy career specialties.
Curriculum Vitae Workshop
The workshop focuses on helping students create a curriculum vitae tailored to their career aspirations.
Pharmacy Residency Panel
Recent Pacific PharmD graduates who are currently completing residencies are invited to campus to share their experiences and advice on how to pursue postgraduate training opportunities.
The Office of Pre-Pharmacy hosts social events throughout the year to build relationships between students, faculty and staff.
The student-run Pre-Pharmacy Society hosts pharmacy guest speaker events, advancement panels with former pre-pharmacy students, PharmD program mock interviews, mentor-mentee mixers and other networking opportunities.
By Dua Her ’09