The ABCs of Pharmacy School

Dean Kashuba’s advice to incoming students on how to make the most of the UNC pharmacy experience

Story and photo by Angela Kashuba | Published September 5, 2023

Dean Angela Kashuba takes a selfie in front of an auditorium full of new pharmacy students

At new student orientation, the main lecture hall in Kerr was bursting at the seams with our incoming class of PharmD students. The room was alive with energy and excitement (and a few nerves) as Dean Kashuba welcomed the class of 2027 to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Here we have included the advice she shared with these newest members of our Carolina Pharmacy family.

Welcome PharmD students to ESOP! I love the positive energy and engagement in this room right now. Before we get started, I want you to pull out your cell phones and take a selfie with your neighbor. I’m going to take my own. In less than four years from now, I’ll ask you to do this again in this very same room when you come back to campus for Return to the Hill to prepare for Commencement. I want you to send my your before and after pictures!

Now I could stand up here and talk to you about coming to the #1 ranked pharmacy school nationally and #3 ranked pharmacy school globally. A school with the most experiential hours in a curriculum because we know you learn by doing. A school that has two campus choices to select how you learn best. A school with the highest residency placements and NAPLEX pass rates. A school with the largest global program and one of the only schools focused on the business of healthcare. A school with one of the largest research programs in the country. I could go on and on. But I’m not going to talk about all of those things. You will hear all about them (again) soon enough.

I want to talk to you about only two things.

The first is: we graduate amazing clinicians. By the end of your time here, you will be one of the best clinical graduates of any pharmacy program in the world. I want you to know that your clinical skills are your superpower. Whether you decide to go into a hospital, a community pharmacy, a clinic, a drug company, a managed care organization, an insurance company, a regulatory agency like the FDA, a federal agency like the CDC, or a global agency like the WHO: the clinical skills you get from this program are what separates you from all others.

Your ability to understand how to manage patients and patient medications, how to connect with clinicians overseeing patient care, how to monitor patients for adverse events and side effects — this ability will track with you everywhere you go, and it makes you special. Never underestimate the power of clinical knowledge. Because you bring a different, and better, perspective to the teams you will work with.

The second is: I want to give you my ABC advice for the coming years. You are drinking from a fire-hose this week — but if you can remember my ABCs, I think you will have great success at this school.

  • A is for ASK. Ask questions, ask for help, ask for support. Ask about anything you don’t understand or need help with. Our School’s values spell out the acronym WE CARE. WE CARE stands for Welcoming, Equity, Commitment, Accountability, Respect, and Excellence. You are part of our Pharmily now, and WE CARE about you and your success. Don’t be afraid to ask for whatever you need.
  • B is for BE PROUD of your accomplishments. This program is likely the hardest thing you will ever do. But it is also the most rewarding. It’s the hard that makes it great. Know that you deserve to be here: each one of you. There may be times when you fail. But we believe in your ability to do this. So, celebrate all of your wins, no matter how small. Be proud of your accomplishments.
  • C is for curiosity and caring. These are important traits to have. Be curious about those in your class, be curious about our faculty and staff, and be curious about what you are learning. Everything we teach you will become important in some way. And there are so many people in this School with amazing lived experiences you can learn from. Stay curious. And finally, be caring. Care about those around you. Care about your patients yet to come. Take the patient care responsibility seriously. Be curious and caring.

We are so excited to have you here and I look forward to seeing all that you accomplish!