Chemistry (Pharmacy Pre-Grad Intern) Senior Hang Nguyen

Hang NguyenWhen I came across the flier for this course online, I had no idea what to expect. I read testimonials and further read into the structure of the program and figured it could be something I should try. A professor proposed a grad student I should work with voluntarily and I figured that it would be great to get credit for something I was in the process of doing. I was really skeptical and I honestly did not know if this course was going to be structured very well. As I started getting more emails from Dr. Cherwitz and Ruby Morua, I was anxious to see how everything would pan out.

Initially I was really excited to get started on my mentor's project. I figured everything was already in place and I would just have to put in the work that was needed. I already went through a computer-based training that granted me the "Certificate of Human Subject Training" and was prepared to get in to the community and to put together focus groups. I then started to get a taste of what a PhD candidate has to go through. He was in the process of getting his project approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and until approval was granted, we could not start getting the focus groups together for his project. Since my mentor was also a professor at the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio and busy with other personal responsibilities as a new dad, I knew there would be quite a few obstacles we will face with timing. We have been keeping in touch through emails and phone calls since he was in San Antonio most of the time. We have yet to commence the process of getting together focus groups but the insight I have gotten to see with the process has been informative and true to what would be expected when carrying out such a project.

I think as the semester progressed, this course evolved into something entirely different then what I had initially set it out to be. Instead of solely trying to find out how focus groups were set up, my mission for this course was to see whether graduate school was something I wanted to pursue. Through the required assignments and being able to meet and talk about graduate school with faculty members was very inspiring to me. With each meeting, my excitement grew and I began feeling like this was my calling. I think even after my first meeting with a faculty member, Dr. Ken Lawson, and just talking about the things I really wanted to do if I pursued the graduate program in pharmacy administration, made me realize that I could actually major in something I really had a passion for. He works on a lot of things I would love to take part in and I think this was the real turning point for me and made me wanted to get more information about the program and how I could apply to get in.

Then I was able to meet with the Division Head, Dr. Marvin Shepherd, and after finding out he was an advocate in developing the pharmacy administration program at UT, I began to further ask questions on how might one apply to get in to the program. He gave me a little breakdown of what the applicant pool looks like and what he thinks are some important factors when admitting students into the program. Like there is usually a 50% chance of getting in and communication skills is good to have. I believe this internship has worked to my advantage in that I got to meet with him and hopefully I will be memorable when he comes across my application next year.

Just with these two meetings, my thoughts about graduate school completely changed from a maybe to a definite yes. I never thought I would want to pursue a Masters. If I wasn't going to get in to some type of medical program, I didn't think there was anything else I would want to do. I think I have really found something that I really do care about and would want to contribute to a cause that started my interest in the medical field in the first place. With pharmacy administration, I can address the issues of costs of prescription medication, allocation of state funding for Medicaid and Medicare recipients, and be an advocate of a universal health care system through even allocation of medical funding from the state. Some of the issues that deal with funding for proper treatments for illnesses, whether it pertains to drugs or just doctor visits, affect some of my family members which make these issues a concern that hits close to home. I want to be able to make a change so that it would be fair and for them to be able to access the treatments they need without worrying about whether it is affordable to maintain their health or not. Since these issues hit so close to home, the passion that has grown stems from this basis, and now I know that there is something that I can do to help ease the problems my family as well as other people's family are facing. Also with the new Obama administration, I hope he advocates programs that I could possibly be a part of within the next couple years as I pursue a Masters in Pharmacy Administration.

I think wanting to make a career for myself while being able to help people has always been a goal of mine. People always ask me, how do you do it? How are you able to work, go to school, and be so involved in organizations all at one time? I think what holds it all together for me is that I'm not a quitter. I have set a goal and I would want to make my parents proud and myself proud by trying to make a difference any way I can. I also know that the activities and jobs I participate in are resume builders and I believe my involvement verifies the fact that I am a hard worker and I would want the admissions committee to see that I am an overall well-rounded individual.

I plan to take the GRE this summer and begin putting together my personal statement. My mentor Scott will help review my personal statement and will be writing me a letter of recommendation. I am currently trying to get the chance to work with Dr. Ken Lawson in the summer and I hope it will all come together. I also picked up Business Foundation classes to get a better perspective on business operations since my background is in Chemistry. I now have a clear path for life after undergraduate studies and am so glad I took this internship. As said before in one of my reflections, I really wished I had known about this course sooner so that I might have set a clearer path earlier in my college career. I tell all my friends that this is a good course and I believe it is one of the best things I have come across in college. We will just have to see what is in store for me in the future and I can't be happier to now have plans after graduation next spring.