Tips to launch your own career in Pharmacy.

October 30, 2011

Today is the last day of American Pharmacists Month.  This month, we’ve heard from two Oakwood alumnae who currently work in two very different sectors of the pharmacy industry.    Today, we’ll provide some tips and tricks of how YOU too can pursue a career as a pharmacist.


VERY DIVERSE FIELD.  Like Dr. Fowler and Dr. Aurubin stated, being a pharmacist is sooooo much more than pill counting and dispensing.  Pharmacists have the unique opportunity to administer vital patient care to those who may not be able to see his / her physician.  They work one on one with physicians in both public and private hospitals to ensure that inpatient and outpatient prescriptions are accurately dosed.  They  also:

  • monitor the health and progress of patients in response to drug therapy;
  • advise patients and answer questions about prescription drugs, including questions about possible side effects and interactions among different drugs;
  • provide information and make recommendations about over-the-counter drugs;

GREAT PAY.    Starting salary for a pharmacist who has completed 4 years of pharmacy school and has passed the National American Pharmacists Licensure Exam is $106,410

NO RESIDENCY (UNLESS YOU WANT TO DO ONE).  Yes, there is a pharmacy residency; but unlike medicine where residency is a required part of your  training; residency for pharmacists is optional.  Pharmacy residency is a 1 or 2 year training after pharmacy school that a licensed pharmacist can pursue to gain further experience, and enhance one’s skills as a pharmacist in a semi-protected / preceptored environment.  Those who do a 2 year residency will gain additional skills in a specialized area like  – hematology, infectious disease, pain management,  etc.  One source estimated that approximately 20 % of pharmacy school graduates go on to do a residency.

For more info on pharmacy residency check A Day in the Life of a Pharmacy Resident

Or this link for some general information about residency for licensed pharmacists.


1. Get the best grades possible.  This goes without saying.  Pharmacy school is rigorous, so just like with medicine and dentistry you want to prove to admissions committees that you can handle the academic pressure.  The best way to do that is to get good grades in your undergraduate / pre-pharmacy classes.  You don’t need a 4.0 to get in, but to improve your chances, keep your science grades at a B or better.

2 Do your research.  Learn all you can about the field to make sure it’s the best fit for you.   Try and meet local pharmacists or current pharmacy students and ask their advice.  You’d be surprised who’s willing to be an unofficial mentor. Try and set up an opportunity to shadow a pharmacist – either at a local pharmacy or in the hospital setting.  It may not be as hard as you think.

3. Know the requirements. Most schools require a personal statement, passing the PCAT, letters of recommendation / committee letter, successful completion of general chemistry, organic chemistry, general biology, anatomy and physiology, genetics, microbiology and physics.

See below for a full list of pharmacy school application requirements by institution

4. Plan wisely.  Plan your academic schedule and know the important deadlines.  When is the PCAT offered, how many times a year? What are the typical dates and will you have all your pre-req’s done in time to take the test?  When does the pharmacy school application become available / and what’s the deadline for the schools you are interested in?  Does the school participate in PharmCAS  and planning your schedule accordingly.

5. Study for and do well on the PCAT.  The PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) ,is the pharmacy school equivalent to the MCAT.  It is required by approximately 2/3 of American Pharmacy Schools. It has seven sections that include reading comprehension, quantitative ability, chemistry, written essay, verbal ability, and biology.

Important Websites to Know

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy

PCAT information

American Pharmacists Month – Dr. Sachoy Fowler Pharm.D.

October 28, 2011

As American Pharmacists Month draws to a close, I’m happy to feature Sachoy Fowler PharmD.  One of the goals of HealthOU is to bring awareness to the variety of professions within healthcare outside of medicine and dentistry and the diverse uses of a strong background in the sciences.  One such profession is Pharmacy.  Like medicine and dentistry a career in pharmacy provides the opportunity to work in a hospital or private, or government setting all while helping to serve others.   Earlier this month, we featured Dr. Nadeje Aurubin, today we’ll hear from Dr. Sachoy Fowler.

Sachoy is a 2005 graduate of Oakwood College and a recent graduate of the Howard University School of Pharmacy in Washington D.C.  She was born on the island of Jamaica and currently works as a pharmacist at a retail pharmacy chain in Virginia.  She enjoys cooking and traveling in her spare time and plans to open a pharmacy in her native country in the near future.

Dr. Fowler and her mother at her graduation from the Howard University School of Pharmacy

HealthOU: How did you end up going into  pharmacy?

S.F. I was a PreMed student at Oakwood;  because that was really all that was preached to me; medical school or dental school. We had a career fair and Auburn School of Pharmacy was there. I told one of the professors I worked for (Dr. J. Durant),  that I was thinking about applying for pharmacy school and she encouraged me because she thought it would be a better fit for me  than medical school. I reluctantly took the PCAT and did very well, so I decided to apply. It seemed that was where God wanted me to be as well because everything worked out and I was accepted to Howard University School of Pharmacy and graduated in May 2011.

HealthOU: What do you love the most about what you do?

I enjoy the patient interaction. Its what drives me to go to work every day. I enjoy giving patients medication advice – within the scope of my practice of course. I also value the trust that exists between patients and their pharmacist.

HealthOU: What are the perks of your job / pharmacy in general (compared to other professions in healthcare)

S.F. Believe it or not even though we are in the numbers game in the retail pharmacy sector, I believe we have a lot of face time with the individual patients. There are many who cannot afford to go to the doctor’s office and are looking for remedies for common ailments and when they come into a pharmacy they trust that you, the pharmacist, know what to give them to help them. You are also able to go beyond what a physician can do, due to time constraints, like in depth explanations of  medication side effects and other pharmacological effects of drugs as well as how to take the medications that have been prescribed to them.

HealthOU:  What is one of the biggest misconceptions about your profession?

S.F. I have to say it is “pill counting”. That is really a pharmacy technician’s job. I would be crazy not to acknowledge that there are many people who have no clue what goes on in a pharmacy, whether it is in your local community pharmacy or hospital or elsewhere. It is hard work and we are trained intensely for the job. We are within our own rights Doctors of pharmacy and registered pharmacists. We are held accountable for maintaining accurate records and ensuring that patients received the medication which physicians have prescribed them among many other things.

Another misconception is how large the field really is. We have several areas of pharmacy which Nadeje mentioned. Our profession is extremely more diverse than people may think.

The Journey to Medical School: Item #2: Vision

October 24, 2011

Hello Everyone

I hope you enjoyed and were blessed by my last post! I am currently a first year med student at Loma Linda University (raises hands in praise). My journey to medical school has been exciting, difficult, fun, stressful, and character building all at the same time. Along the way, I mentally picked up and developed tools I knew would help me be successful in medical school. Now as a medical student, I have already used these items packed away in my medical school bag. Each post I would like to share with you one item you need to pack your medical school bag with. Prayerfully, by the time you are accepted, you will already have everything you need to be successful in the next step of your journey.


I vividly recall my interview with the Loma Linda Dean of Admissions during my junior year. I had semi-prepared for the interview but assured myself I would make a good impression anyhow. I suppose I had briefly gone over in my mind possible questions he could ask, such as, “Tell me about yourself?” or “Why are you interested in our school?”

The interview began and was going well, until he asked ‘the question’, “Tell me why you want to be a doctor?” I scrambled and searched the recesses of my brain to come up with an acceptable answer. All I could say was the generic, cookie-cutter answer, “Um, I always knew medicine was for me and it is a way for me to help people.” I hoped that would fly, but… it didn’t. He came back with a follow question, “Well, why become a doctor and not another health care worker? They all help people.” I thought to myself, “That’s a good point. Now what do I say?” I was embarrassed and babbled my way through a less than adequate answer. It became clear to me that I lacked a vision. I was immediately taken back to a familiar verse found in Proverbs 29:18 which states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I had no idea why or if God wanted me to become a physician. Worse than that, if I had made it into medical school with no vision, I would mentally and spiritually perish.

Obtaining a God-given vision is so crucial to the medical school application process I was asked on every medical school interview why I wanted to become a doctor. It wasn’t until I went canvassing after my junior did I receive my God-given vision. It became so clear to me as I ministered to physically and spiritually ill individuals through the distribution of literature; why God had called me to the profession of Medicine. I heeded the advice found in Habkkuk 2:2, which says, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” Immediately, I penned my vision masked as my personal statement and “ran with it,” trusting that God will make His vision for me come to fruition. This vision became the 2nd item packed in my med school bag and has been so key to my spiritual and mental sanity.

Now, as a medical student, I realize the true importance of a vision. It has been an item I constantly pull out of my medical school bag in challenging times. This vision serves as the lens through which I see past the difficulties placed before me on my medical school journey. Because God’s vision for my life has placed into focus the end result of serving Him through medicine, I can worry less about obstacles along the way. You, too, can have the same peace of mind. If you haven’t received God’s vision for your life, Do not worry J Just be purposeful in asking God for that Vision. Once you receive it, run with it; for it will give you the strength you need alon the way.. May God bless and keep you, as I know He will, and give you His vision for your life.

Look out for the next item to be discussed soon. I wish you all the best 

 ~ KeAndrea “Kiki” Titer

It’s American Pharmacist Month

October 13, 2011

One of the goals of HealthOU is to bring awareness to the variety of professions within healthcare outside of medicine and dentistry and the diverse uses of a strong background in the sciences.  One such profession is Pharmacy.  Like medicine and dentistry a career in pharmacy provides the opportunity to work in a hospital or private, or government setting all while helping to serve others.   This month, we’ll hear from two Oakwood graduates who went on to pursue a career in pharmacy.

Nadeje (front row, second from left) at her residency graduation

Nadeje Aurubin is  originally from Miami, FL, where she attended Greater Miami Academy. She is a 2004 graduate of Oakwood College.  She completed her  Doctor of Pharmacy Degree at Mercer University (Atlanta, Ga) in 2009 and went on to complete  pharmacy practice residency at Mayo Clinic.  She is currently a pharmacist at  the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Miami, FL. Outside of work, she likes to read, go shopping and participate in cultural arts.

HEALTHOU: How did you decide to go into pharmacy?
N.A.  I really had an interest in both chemistry and biology and noticed at the time that there was going to be a great demand for pharmacist in the foreseeable future and that pharmacists worked in a variety of settings with a competitive salary.

HEALTHOU: What do you love the most about what you do?  

N.A. I work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and it’s such an honor to serve our nations veterans. They risk it all to fight for life as we know it in the U.S. Everyday I have the opportunity to give back to someone who has fought for our country and thank them for their service.

HEALTHOU: What are some of the perks of your job / pharmacy in general

N.A.   The workplace setting varies from a board room to the operating room. The various areas of pharmacy include: 
Academic pharmacy
Community Pharmacy
Government Agencies
Hospital & Institutional Practice
Independent Ownership
Consulting Pharmacy
Managed Care Pharmacy
Pharmaceutical Industry
Uniformed (Public Health) Service

In addition, I get to work one-on-one with patients. I am the pain management pharmacy specialist, so I manage patients pain medications ranging from Ibuprofen to Fentanyl. I work alongside the MD’s and ARNP’s in the pain clinic at the VA to provide the best pain management to our veterans. Hospital pharmacists also specialize in areas such as cardiology, oncology, infectious disease, internal medicine and so much more

HEALTHOU: What is one of the biggest misconceptions about your profession?

N.A: Pill counting!! I cannot tell the last time I touched a counting tray and spatula. Pharmacy technicians do most of the counting. The profession of pharmacy has much more of a clinical aspect then most people realize. As a PharmD, it is our reprehensibility to know the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, drug interactions, adverse effects and pahrmacothearpy of most prescription and over the counter medication. We are trained to be the drug experts and clinicians rely on us to provide that support to the interdisciplinary team of health care professionals.

Set High Goals!

October 9, 2011

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Reach for the Moon!

Last month, I shared with you all that when I first started medical school, I felt like an imposter. I just didn’t think that I deserved to be here. Here I was, finally fulfilling what I had planned for the better part of my life…and I thought it was a mistake.

The happy ending to that story was that I finally resolved in my mind, before our first block exams, fortunately, that since God brought me here to fulfill His purpose and the desires of my heart, “I DO DESERVE TO BE HERE.”


However, was that enough? What now? At that point, I had been out of school for 2 ½ years and out of undergrad for 5 whole years. I literally turned 26 on the day of my orientation, making me a nontraditional student (one who doesn’t matriculate right after undergrad).

In short, I was petrified at starting school again. Sure, I may deserve to be here, but what if I flunk out because I forgot how to study? So, again, I panicked!

At that point, I had heard horror stories about students being dismissed after flunking 1 too many classes. And worse yet, not all of them were chronic partiers. Some studied from dawn to dusk and into the wee hours and still didn’t GET it. What if that was me?

There was no plan B for me! There’s nothing else that I could see myself doing for the rest of my life. Sure, I fell in love with photography during my travels. Should I start applying to National Geographic?

What else can I do with the degrees that I already had: B.S in Bio and M.S in Biomedical Science? Teach or do research. I guess I should start downloading applications for NIH.

However, I knew that I would be disappointed in the long run. I scratched those options from my mind and had a new resolve.

I would set my goals high!

“Reach for the MOON. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the STARS.”
I resolved that I would try to Honor all my courses that semester (MOON)! Even if I miss, by getting a B somewhere, I would still be eligible for the Dean’s List (STAR).
Sure enough, I did miss, by getting 2 B’s (a point away from Honors), and only Honored one course.

However, I landed on my STAR! I made the Dean’s List. It was then that I knew, unless I set my goals SUPER HIGH…I would fall on someone’s roof, rather than a STAR!
I was flabbergasted as to how many of my peers were satisfied with only passing! I couldn’t believe that everyone wasn’t interested in that elusive Honors!

My advice to you, in all that you do in your studies, study as though your goal is to get 100%. Don’t gloss over a section, no matter how detailed or boring or miniscule. I promise you…it will be a question on your exam. And you will smile when you come across it. Then you will know what setting high goals really mean.

Good luck in your studies…and reach for that moon!


OU alumna featured as “Emerging Leader”

October 2, 2011

Last week, there was an article written on Oakwood alumnus Michael Knight, current president of the Student National Medical Association, the nation’s oldest and largest independent, student-run organization focused on the needs and concerns of medical students of color.

This week, another Oakwood graduate , Agena Davenport – Nicholson is making her way into the news, as she was featured among the 10 emerging leaders in the city of Cincinnati.   Dr. Davenport – Nicholson graduated from Oakwood in 2004 and went on to complete her medical degree at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.   She is currently in her fourth and final year of her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology.  She resides in downtown Cincinnati with her husband and young son.

( Photo: courtesy of Cincinnati Enquirer / Carrie Cochran)