You guys, I finally did it. After twenty-one years of hard work and preparation, I have finally been accepted to PHARMACY SCHOOL! 😀 This time next year I will officially be a Doctor of Pharmacy student at East Tennessee State University’s Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, and I could not be more excited. It is an absolutely perfect fit for this next phase of my life, and it’s going to provide me with a number of amazing opportunities and experiences as I get ever closer to starting my career. Thank you guys for your support and encouragement along the way. Over the last year I’ve been blogging about the rest of the process, from taking the PCAT to filling out the electronic application, and it is so nice to finally share with you the results of all that work. It’s been a long road, and I’m so happy to have reached my destination at last!
In celebration of this good news, I wanted to blog this week about my interview process and my decision to attend Gatton out of all the other schools I was accepted to. About three weeks after submitting my PharmCAS application, I received a confirmation email saying that the selection committee had approved and verified all of the information I provided, and it also said that I should be hearing from the schools I had selected any day now. Crazily enough, the first school actually called me just an hour later to invite me to an interview, and within a week I had secured interviews at all of my other choices, with ETSU being the earliest one.
Because my interview day was scheduled to begin at 8:30 in the morning and Johnson City is about a two-hour drive from my hometown, I decided to drive up the night before and stay in a hotel. This way I was able to get a good night’s rest and eat a hearty breakfast, and I wasn’t rushing through interstate traffic early in the morning to get to where I needed to be. I was even about a half-hour early for my interview, so I went on in and took a first look around and introduced myself to a few of the faculty members. The dean of the school, Dr. Larry Calhoun, actually walked right up to me and shook my hand! I felt this same kind of sincerity from everyone that I met in those few minutes, and it made going into the interview much less intimidating.
Throughout all of my communications with Gatton leading up to my interview day, the one thing they stressed the most was for me to just be myself. There was no “magic formula” for nailing the interview, and going into it having rehearsed my answers over and over again would not accurately describe my personality and my goals. So I went into it cold turkey. I didn’t have any previous experience working in a pharmacy, and I don’t have any family members in the business that I could have learned from, but I felt pretty confident that I was a great candidate for this school. I’m driven, goal-oriented and hard-working, and I have a passion for being involved in my community and helping others. Those were the things that I told them about when they asked me things like “What do you think would make you an ideal pharmacy student?” Both of my interviewers seemed satisfied with my answers, and they were both very pleasant and really easy to talk to.
The best part about the day’s schedule was that ETSU let us get the hard part over with first! After the interviews, we were given a tour of the pharmacy building. It’s located on a Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center campus, and in fact the building is a former military dormitory. When the school acquired and converted it to classroom and lab space for the pharmacy program, they added just a few minor renovations so that it’s the perfect blend of old and new. Our tour included a look at the student lounge area, the Student Affairs office, the faculty office spaces, and the different classrooms, all of which were very spacious and state-of-the-art. Finally, at the end of the tour, we were treated to lunch from Chick-fil-a (MY FAVORITE!) and given one last opportunity for a Q&A with current students and faculty. The students told me all about the different student organizations I could get involved with, and the faculty members talked about some of the projects that they were working on and the different community activities that had been involved in recently.
All in all, my impression of ETSU was a very good one. They had everything I was looking for: small class sizes, close to home, affordability, and lots of opportunities for growth—all of the same things I was looking for when I decided to go to LMU. It was hard for me to picture liking another school any better than Gatton, and when Dean Calhoun called me personally on the phone to tell me I had been accepted, I knew then what I wanted to do. I’m grateful that I was given so many options, but I decided not to even go to my other pharmacy interviews. This school is just such a perfect fit for me, and it’s such a relief just to know that all my years of work have finally paid off.
Even though this chapter in my Journey to Pharmacy School is coming to a close, the story is not over yet! I’ve been accepted, but there’s a whole lot left to do before I’m officially a pharmacy student. I’ve still got to sign up for classes and go through orientation week, and in just a few months I’ll be attending a sort of “preview day” to meet-and-greet with some of my new classmates. So be on the lookout for those updates. If you want to make sure you don’t miss them, you can subscribe to my blog to get email updates on all of my new posts. Don’t forget to like and comment on this week’s blog, too!