Incoming students always ask the same questions.
"They're always wondering about the classes, about grades, about the professors, how the classes are going to be, which I try to steer them away from," Jade Wilia, a third-year doctor of pharmacy student at West Coast University, said.
Wilia, the PharmD class president for 2018, had just sat in a students-only panel and fielded questions from the incoming Class of 2020 for more than an hour. As class president, she tries to remind students that not all lessons come from text books.
"Basically I try to help promote the clubs and organizations so whenever they have an event coming up I help promote that to the classes," she said. "I like to think of myself as someone who tries to advance the profession, as well as not focus on academics as much as everyone likes to."
What do you tell new PharmD students?
"Our profession is not just learning everything. It's about connecting with people and making a difference in people's lives. I really try to emphasize that to the new students."
"I try to make them think more about their learning outcomes rather than their grades, because honestly the way that you're going to be able to gauge your knowledge is by interacting with patients. If you can answer the patient's questions, be able to tell them how to manage their diseases, that's when you know you've learned the material that you're supposed to learn. Grades don't always reflects knowledge, so I try to hopefully they get that concept through and be able to participate more in outreach events."
Why did you choose pharmacy?
"We have cancer that's running in our family and I've been in the hospital a lot. And one of the connections I made at one point was with a pharmacist, an oncology pharmacist. They were very kind — a lot kinder than the doctor was. They were always checking up on my grandma there, or my aunt, and they were very helpful in terms of being able to answer questions, being able to be compassionate and be able to connect with us as well. It made a huge difference in my life. That was the emotional connection I had. The other connection I had was the fact that pharmacy doesn't dictate your whole life all the time like for doctors. They're always on call, a lot of them don't have their lives together. I see a lot of pharmacists that do have their lives together so it just made me think of the future as well."
Why did you choose West Coast University?
"I didn't want to move to another state so I applied to all the California schools and this was one of them. I live in Glendale and Glendale is 30 minutes away from here at the most, so it was very convenient and I really wanted to go to this school. USC was also a choice for me but this school is a lot closer to me than USC — and it's in a better area as well."
What do you want to do when you graduate?
"Honestly, I want to work for the government. (Indian Health Service) is an organization that I really want to go into. If not that, I want to work for the prison system, the federal bureau, anything in the government. Basically, just because it's serving the people rather than serving the company for money, so I'd rather stay away from for-profit organizations and work for the government."
What’s the biggest misconception about pharmacists?
"That we are all retail pharmacists and count by fives. Ironically, I do work at CVS right now so that's something that I struggle with a lot on a day-to-day basis, but what I am learning about CVS right now, and retail in general, is that we are changing a lot, especially with SB 493. Our profession is changing dramatically and seeing that in a retail setting is comforting, knowing that if I end up at retail I could be able to change people's lives with consultations, (medication therapy managements). Now we're able to prescribe some items over-the-counter as well. Birth control and some smoking cessation medications are also something that we can do so that's very exciting."
What’s the best thing about WCU’s PharmD program?
"West Coast's School of Pharmacy is great in that we're doing everything new, so communication is something that we really focus on. Being able to have people skills, being able to think critically in situations that might come up in the actual real world is something that we're being taught on a daily basis."
"It's not just about book smart, it's about being able to survive in the real world. Being able to interact with their co-workers is another concept that is being brought up a lot in the field. Collaboration with other professions, that's something that we are really focusing on as well here. So I think West Coast is great, that it's bringing new ideas in. Its trying to incorporate things that other schools are not doing. It's basically the new frontier of pharmacy and the health profession in general."