Why UCSD?


Hello my fellow Pharm.D. candidates!

It's been a while since I've specifically addressed pharmacy. By now, all the candidates are done with interviews and are awaiting acceptances or (hopefully) already placed a deposit to one or more schools. Many applicants applying this cycle asked me, in person or via email, why UCSD? I was bombarded with a ton of other questions that I plan to answer in this and future pharmacy related posts. Hopefully this particular post will help you understand my mentality in school selection and help you make an informed decision about your future!

UCSD Class of 2020

* All pictures, minus the one above, are my own *

1. Why UCSD?

What was the leading factor that made it easy for me to choose UCSD over schools like UCSF and USC? COST. I had other personal reasons I had to consider but cost was the main component influencing my decision to attend UCSD. Honestly speaking, UCSF is a dream school for all health care professionals. The cost of tuition comparable to UCSD since they are both within the public UC system however, living in San Francisco, especially the Bay Area is outrageous. I've heard absurd stories of students sharing a small room in a home for $1,200 per month. I don't know how you guys feel about that but I definitely need my own space along with a large closet... obviously this wasn't a feasible option for me. Sure you can live in Oakland but having to wake up early to catch the subway into the heart of the city seems like it'd become burden really fast. 

What else drew me to UCSD? The small class size - my class, the Class of 2020, only has 56 students (we had one student drop out). You gradually learn everyone's name and develop "cliques." I honestly wished I live closer to school so I could attend more functions but I do love the area I live in - oh, I decided to rent out a house in San Diego instead of a condo/apartment in La Jolla! I was thrilled since I got it last minute. For those of you who plan on renting a house, make sure to set aside some extra moolah since it'll definitely cost a pretty penny (note that there are fees for both applications and background checks). 

Another factor that drew me into UCSD? It's heavily research based. I did research pretty much all throughout my undergraduate education and gap years. The data mining portion of research can get extremely tedious however, I love discovering something new, reaffirming something that's already established, disproving a theory, seeing how my study compares to others, and presenting at conferences! 

Geisel Library at UCSD_Adrienne Nguyen_San Diego Photography_Explore SD


2. What do I like/dislike about the school and area?

For the almost two quarters I've been at UCSD, it's generally been really cold and gloomy. You should take into consideration that it has been raining a lot in Southern California this past year. Yay to no longer being in a drought but boo to the numerous amount of pot holes. Moving to San Diego was definitely a big change. I was born and bred in Orange County and 99% of the roads are linear at a 180 degree angle. Right when I popped over to San Diego, I was faced with lots of altitude changes and way too many hills. My house is in the mountains so it's extremely cold and foggy every morning - people actually have to scrape ice off their windshield in December! Anyways, La Jolla is an affluent area but nothing compares to Newport Beach/Venice/Laguna Beach or any of the beaches in Orange County and LA!

Huntington Beach Sunset_California Fashion Blogger_Adrienne Nguyen_Clouds_Cotton Candy Skies_Newport Beach_Laguna Beach


I don't like the malls here - even though Fashion Valley carries a variety of stores, if not more brands than South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island, I still prefer my OC malls over the ones in San Diego. Also, all these are outdoor malls so it makes hanging out at the mall that much more difficult when it rains.

What are some pros? Balboa Park is beautiful! If you love hiking, there are lots of trails and lakes! Jonathan and I drove to a lake but it was way too cold to get out of the car! I'm hoping to explore more nature once it starts warming up in San Diego (I hear there's a hidden waterfall in the heart of San Diego)! I also heard that the weather in San Diego is much better than Orange County - hopefully it doesn't get too hot during the summer. I've been to Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego but it was a week away from closing for renovations so the artwork wasn't on par. However, I do want to explore a ton of museums during spring break!

San Diego Museums_Big Window_Ocean View_La Jolla Museum_Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego_Adrienne Nguyen_Palm Trees_California


I believe this applies to all the pharmacy schools in California but I hate being in a single classroom all day. The only time we have a change of scenery is for Histology or our exams (which are often taken in larger lecture halls).

If you guys read my fashion related posts, you know that I hate the parking situation at UCSD. If you guys went to UCI and parked in the are in front of PSLH, it's a million times worse at UCSD. Even if I have class later on in the day, I have to come in before 8:30AM to snatch a parking spot. I can't complain that much since undergraduates have to park off campus and take a shuttle to class!

3. How is the curriculum?

RIGOROUS! We all procrastinate... there's just no way to avoid it but make sure you're smart about the classes you're choosing to flake on. Just like undergrad, there are one or two classes you can still get honors (≥ 90%) by studying  5 weeks of material, 12 hours before the exam. However, once you're actually a student pharmacist, you'll realize how difficult a majority of the courses are compared to the ones you previously took during undergrad. I'm finishing up my second quarter of my first year in pharmacy school and the most difficult class I've ever taken is Histology. There's just so much to understand and know - you actually have to put time into this class to do well - you CANNOT wing it! I'd be more than happy to give you guys a breakdown of all the classes I'm taking and what I think about the course! Just let me know!

We run on a quarter system (Fall, Winter and Spring) however, come our second year, we will be switching to block schedules. Why? Pharmacy students at UCSD actually take courses with medical students. Our curriculums coincide which allows future pharmacists to collaborate with future physicians. Pharmacists are typically viewed as being lower on the totem pole than physicians however, this integration allows medical students to understand what and how student pharmacists can contribute to the health care field (What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? NOW!).

Apothecary_Vintage Prescription Medications_Community Pharmacy_Student Pharmacist_Pharmacy Blog


4. How is the Pass / No Pass grading?

It's a blessing in disguise! I was a bit hesitant about attending UCSD due to the P/NP grading criteria but little did I know that it would be the best decision I made! All the schools I've previously attended scored performance based on the traditional A, B, C, D, and F scale with an associated GPA.  I preferred this since I could show off my GPA to people (wink wink). Anyways, with the amount of classes I'm taking now as a student pharmacist, there's a lot to balance. I have to decide where to allocate my time. There are certain classes where I aim for honors (H >90% overall) however, for other classes that actually require reading the textbook, memorizing terms, I'll settle for a regular Pass. Although I have a dense schedule (7 courses), I feel as if I have more time to actually enjoy life. I've traveled back and forth from Orange County to San Diego numerous times this school year and I've also spent time exploring the city as well as eating my heart out! This P/NP gives you some breathing room - if there's an event you want to attend and all you want to do is pass (even though we should all aim for honors), it's okay!

Many of you asked if it'll be more difficult to land a good residency or fellowship if you have no GPA to show. The short answer? NO. There are so many UCSD graduates who go on to work in pharma, hospital, and so many other settings. There really is no limit to what we can do. It's all about your resume. Build it up with extracurriculars and experiences that mean something to you - show commitment and leadership abilities. It's all based on your interviewing skills too!

Adrienne Nguyen_Fashion Blogger_Sunset in Laguna Beach_From Above_Photographer_Ocean_California Beaches_Invictus


Sometimes I feel that I should have went straight into pharmacy school without taking any gaps however, I was able to catch up on much needed sleep and enjoy life. Too bad I didn't travel as much as I wanted to! This coming summer will be occupied with a new research project I'm taking on. What's the topic? Opioids! It's completely different from my background but I'll broaden my knowledge about the rapidly growing epidemic in the US. My summer of 2018 will be taken up with mandatory rotations so my actual summer break will be very short. The things students have to do...

I plan on incorporating things I learn from class into my posts - especially things I learn from my Pharmacy Practice. What does this exactly mean? I'll be speaking about pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for common conditions ranging from the common cold to acne. Everything I post on these topics will come directly from lecture (either through lecture slides of from speakers who are licensed pharmacists). I believe adding a new "health and lifestyle" area in my blog allows me to actually review my material and it can possibly shed some light to common questions you might have!

XO,
Adrienne

Watermelon


Adrienne Nguyen_Invictus_What to Wear with A Watermelon Bag _ Watermelon Clutch_California Fashion Blogger

I'm finally done with all my midterms - I wanted to have a new post up much earlier but I've been catching up on much needed sleep! After a brutal week of exams, I hopped into my car and blasted to Los Angeles in the rain to finalize some business details. I don't exactly know my way around LA so I used Siri and she ended up leading me into East LA as a shortcut. Not so great when it's raining, dark and gloomy... After getting stuck in traffic on the way back, I ended back in my hometown of Orange County! Anyways, I had a much needed break this weekend but it's back to the grind in San Diego!

I received this adorable watermelon clutch courtesy of Nylon Shop! I wanted to pair this with an outfit something bright and since it was still a tad bit cold, I decided to pull out my mustard coat from Zara! I believe the juxtaposition of the colors works extremely well and it's a great Spring outfit! Even though some of my clothes only fit certain criteria and/or events - I do love it when I can add something versatile, such as this coat, to my closet! It works for school, work, and play! Plus, the pop of color adds more life to everything!

As for pharmacy school, I cannot believe it's already Week 7! Finals are creeping up and within a blink of an eye, it'll be Spring Break! I'm taking 7 courses this quarter but it's zooming by way too fast! I wish I had a pause button in life just so I could live in the moment and have some time to breathe. Pharmacy school is no joke - if you're not passionate about pursuing a career in the field, you'll just be miserable all throughout school. Sure, I do other things and I still continue with all my hobbies however, I no longer have time to travel or explore with leisure. Anyways, I am so glad I am able to assist so many of you with all your questions and even meet some of you in person! I promise my next post will be Pharmacy related so be on the lookout! Until next time!

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