An Interview with Maegan Rogers, 3rd Year Pharmacy Student

by Cathy Sivak
An Interview with Maegan Rogers, 3rd Year Pharmacy Student

A college chemistry class changed the career and education direction of a Mathematics major

July 25, 2005

Maegan Rogers started pharmacy school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the fall of 2003, and is currently entering her third year. She is an active member of the American Pharmacist Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), including serving on the association's executive committee. In addition, Maegan is an officer in Kappa Psi, a pharmaceutical fraternity, and is a member of the National Community Pharmacists Association, the Student Society of Health Systems Pharmacists, and was recently inducted into Phi Lambda Sigma Leadership Honors Society, where she serves as treasurer.

She received the Lester Hosto Scholarship for leadership and academic excellence and was selected for the APhA Summer Internship in Association Management.

Maegan already holds a degree in mathematics with a minor in chemistry from Harding University, a private Christian university in Searcy, Arks. At Harding, she was a member of the Honors College and served as an officer on the Honors Council for two years, and was additionally a member of Apha Chi National Honors Society. She was also active in social clubs, participating in Spring Sing for four years and serving as treasurer for a year.

Education Information & Advice

Tell us about your Pharm. D education and your educational background leading up to the Pharm. D program.

I attended undergrad at Harding University; and graduated with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry in 2003. I started pharmacy school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, Arkansas in the fall of 2003, and am currently entering my third year. I will graduate with my Pharm. D in May of 2007 and I am considering doing a general practice residency in the hopes of teaching in a pharmacy school after completing the residency.

I am a member of APhA-ASP, and I am beginning my second year on the APhA-ASP executive committee; last year I was vice president of logistics and operations and currently I am the vice president of professional projects.

How did you decide to study pharmacy

I started undergrad undecided, but I was leaning towards either math or pre-pharmacy. I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field, but I wanted an area that was more math and chemistry related than biology related. I tried math first and thought about teaching math, but I decided against it. I wanted to try chemistry so I took a chemistry class my junior year and really enjoyed it. I talked it over with my advisor and even though it would take some extra work, I found a way to finish my math degree and fulfill the pre-pharmacy requirements.

How did you find a school

I considered attending two different pharmacy schools, UAMS and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. Both schools were wonderful pharmacy schools, but since I am an Arkansas resident, in-state tuition at Arkansas was much cheaper than out of state tuition at Tennessee.

What factors should prospective students consider when choosing a school? Are there any different considerations for those who know that they want to specialize in the field of pharmacy

Right now there are only 89 pharmacy schools in the United States; there are more schools opening every year, but the competition to get into pharmacy school is very intense. Location is probably the major factor. Many states, like Arkansas, only have one pharmacy school and since they do not have the ability to accommodate all of the qualified applicants from their state, they are unable to accept out-of-state students. If you live in a state like California or Texas that has several pharmacy schools, you should visit the campuses to decide which school best fits your needs. Also, some schools are known for having emphasis in specialty areas. A student interested in Nuclear Pharmacy would want to choose a school that had a Nuclear Pharmacy Program. At University of California at San Francisco, students can choose whether they would like to graduate with an emphasis in clinical pharmacy or in research. Of course, there are also a number of private pharmacy schools throughout the country.

How has your previous education contributed to your success in the Pharm. D. program

I feel that I was at an advantage having already completed four years of study before beginning pharmacy school. I was able to take upper level classes and complete a senior capstone project. Having these experiences taught me proper time management and studying skills, and helped to better prepare me for the rigors of pharmacy school. I also had an amazing organic chemistry teacher at Harding, and felt that he did a wonderful job of preparing me for the classes I took in pharmacy school.

You are active in pharmacy-related organizations. Tell us about your experiences with these groups. What can Pharm. D students expect as part of student membership experiences

I am active in several different pharmacy organizations, but I am most active in APhA-ASP. Through my experience in APhA-ASP I have been able to participate in several service and patient care projects throughout pharmacy school. I was able to attend several professional organization meetings across the country, and in the process I have learned so much about the pharmacy profession. Being active in APhA-ASP has also offered me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills and gives me the feeling that I am having an impact on the profession of pharmacy.

Pharm. D students can expect to be offered several different activities as members of a pharmacy organization. Students can participate in professional activities, social activities, service activities, political activities and leadership activities.

Based on your experience as a student and your involvement with APhA-ASP, what do you think are the most respected and prestigious Pharm. D schools, departments or programs

There are a number of schools that are known for having very strong chapters in APhA-ASP, such as University of Tennessee and University of Kentucky, the two schools that have won Chapter of the Year since I began pharmacy school. University of California at San Francisco was also recently named the top U.S. pharmacy school by U.S. News.

What can students applying to Pharm. D school do to increase their chances of being accepted

Pharmacy school is extremely competitive so students need to focus on maintaining good grades and doing well on the PCAT. Prospective students also need to do something to set themselves apart from all of the other students with good grades. Some ways to set themselves apart would be getting involved with campus organizations or service groups and developing leadership skills or volunteering at a local free clinic or shelter. Having experience working in a pharmacy is not a 'must,' but it does make pharmacy school easier, because you start school with a certain amount of basic knowledge.

In retrospect, what do you know now that you wish you knew before pursued your Pharm. D education

I wish I would have had a stronger background in anatomy and physiology. Taking zoology as your biology prerequisite is not a good idea! I also wish I had worked in a pharmacy before I started school. I had to learn a lot of information my first year that was already second nature to students who had worked in a pharmacy before.

You & Your Career

Tell us about your pharmacy career choice. When did your interest in the field of pharmacy start

I recently found an interview that I did for a newspaper my senior year in high school where I said that I wanted to major in either math or pharmacy. However, I didn't seriously consider pharmacy until after I had taken a chemistry class.

What steps have you taken as a student to launch your career

Probably the best action I have taken for my career is becoming involved in APhA-ASP. By being a leader at my school, I have been able to form relationships with several of my professors, and I have been able to network with other pharmacy professionals and other student pharmacists from across the country. Building these relationships has put my name out in the pharmacy profession before I ever graduate.

How available are internships and other hands-on training experiences? Any tips for landing

Internships close to UAMS and in the Little Rock area are easy to find. Pharmacies in that area love having student pharmacists work in their stores and it seems there are always jobs available. I have found that students who look for jobs in their hometowns have a more difficult time finding internships, because those pharmacies would prefer to hire someone who will not be leaving at the end of the summer.

What do you enjoy most about your hands-on experience so far

I have enjoyed most our patient care projects through APhA-ASP, including Operation Diabetes; I have been able to interact one-on-one with the patients and feel that I am making a difference.

What are some of your personal and/or professional goals for the future

I would love to teach in a pharmacy school maybe even be an advisor for a professional organization. I would like to spend part of my time volunteering in a free clinic or doing medical mission work. I would also enjoy spending a few years in Washington DC working in association management.

Do you feel that is important for someone to be passionate about the field of pharmacy in order to be successful

That depends on your definition of successful. If someone feels being successful is working 40 hours a week and making $90,000 a year, then no. But if someone views successful as being happy in your life and enjoying your job, then yes.

Based on your experience as a student and as an active member of APhA-ASP, what are some of the trends that you see in the field of pharmacy which could help students plan for the future

Right now the role of the pharmacist is changing. Pharmacists do not want to be seen as a vending machine. Pharmacists want to be viewed as a health care provider- the medication expert on a health care team.

What other advice can you give to prospective students thinking about an education and career in the field of pharmacy

Get involved in your profession. Being involved makes your career so much more rewarding for you. I did not fully realize the significance of choosing a career in pharmacy, but I am very pleased with my choice.

Editor's Note: If you would like to contact Maegan Rogers about her experiences as a pharmacy student, click here.

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