From Recruitment to Career Development – UGA Pharmacy Journeys With Students

The relationship between students and the College of Pharmacy extends well beyond the classroom. In fact, the connection may begin years before students even step on campus, thanks to the College’s recruitment efforts. At the other end of the spectrum is support for  students’ future aspirations. Career development is readily available to students almost immediately upon entry into the College – and can continue as students transition to alumni.

In just a few short years, recruitment and career development efforts have soared at UGA Pharmacy. Housed under the auspices of the Office of Student Affairs at the College of Pharmacy, these programs are led by Assistant Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Duc Do, Director of Recruitment and Undergraduate Advising Dr. Shane Pruitt, and Director of Admissions and Career Development Dr. Danielle Vitale, along with the support of fellow staff members. Their astute leadership has allowed the College to exceed national trends in applications, admissions, residencies, and career placements.  Read ahead to learn more.

Recruitment Ramps Up at UGA Pharmacy

A major component of the College’s strategic plan is to amplify the pharmacy profession and create pipelines for recruiting students to the many diverse programs and opportunities. 

The College of Pharmacy has hunkered down on recruitment efforts.

Dr. Pruitt explained the value of recruitment for the student as well as for the College. “Students who come to our College are eventually able to pursue an enormous number of careers in health care. Helping prospective pharmacy students understand the varied and unique ways they can work within the profession is an important part of the recruitment process.” 

Dr. Shane Pruitt with his graduate fair display

This fall, Dr. Pruitt has traveled to more than 24 colleges and universities on behalf of the College’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. He stays busy making appearances at graduate fairs, providing in-class presentations, and running student club seminars across the Southeast.

In addition, the College has offered in-person building tours to more than 200 individual high school-aged PharmD prospects visiting from across the state, while hosting over 850 first-grade students from 14 different area elementary schools – with support from members of the Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) – to teach about drug safety and the pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences professions.

These efforts are paying off. In August, UGA Pharmacy onboarded more than 130 first-year Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences students, bringing the total number in the undergraduate program to 338. Comparatively, there were 273 students in the program in the fall of 2021 and 234 at the same time in 2020.  

For further information about recruitment at the College of Pharmacy, contact Dr. Pruitt or see here.

Career Development Begins at the Outset

The College of Pharmacy’s Office of Student Affairs is committed to career development, which supports students and alumni as they explore post-graduation plans and develop career-related decision-making strategies. This process can begin almost as soon as a student enters the doors of UGA Pharmacy. Dr. Vitale offers career counseling appointments to help students:

  • Design support materials, such as curriculum vitae and cover letters;
  • Facilitate professional skills, such as interviewing and networking; and, 
  • Participate in professional development workshops and seminars so that they can forge relationships with employers, connect with job opportunities, and receive access to career information resources.

Just this semester, Career Development has provided students with:

  • Opportunities to interact with employer partners and learn more about employment and pharmacy career paths. Presentations were made by LabCorp, CVS Health, and Walgreens. Upcoming sessions are scheduled with alumna Dr. Elizabeth Ojo, speaking about Clinical Informatics;
  • Collaborations with student organizations to reach and engage with more students (including IPhO, NCPA, and SNPhA);
  • Increased platforms for students to have one-on-one career counseling through virtual office hours, extended office hours for P4 students, and events such as the CV Review Week and the upcoming Mock Interview Week;
  • Expanded programming for students to focus on career readiness, including Leveraging LinkedIn, Where to Find Jobs, Branding Yourself for the Job Search, and Developing Your Resume and CV; and,
  • Ongoing resource development for students, including the weekly Career Opportunities Digest, which features more than 50 pages of career opportunities, fellowship, and residency announcements, and career-related events and programming.

For more details about the College of Pharmacy’s Career Development Program, contact Dr. Vitale or see here.

Student Spotlight: Zion Brannon

Zion Brannon

Zion Brannon

A sophomore in the Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences program from Grayson, Ga., Zion Brannon is a stellar example of a student who has benefitted from the College’s recruitment and advising efforts.  Zion shared her College of Pharmacy experience, her favorite aspect of UGA, and her plans for a dynamic future.

Why did you choose Pharmaceutical Sciences as your major?

I always liked science. In the 5th grade, my science fair project was about E. coli and how it responds to man-made vs. natural antibiotics!  Seriously, I am a “practical application” sort of person. I like knowing that what I am doing will have real-world implications. When I considered UGA, I liked the fact that Pharmaceutical Science had its own niche. It is not a typical major. It will help and support humankind for the long-haul. 

What are your future career goals and aspirations?

My answer is somewhat involved!  Currently, I am on the BS/MS track in Pharmaceutical Sciences. I am a McNair Scholar, which is a Ph.D. prep program for underrepresented, undergraduate students. Right now I conduct research on malaria drugs, but ultimately I want to conduct research on Alopecia-Areata, a disease that affected my younger brother and isn’t commonly studied. I believe that people’s quality of care shouldn’t be determined by the quantity of individuals affected by the disease.

However, I have a plan for an after-school venture as well!  I have always been passionate about music. I would like to start a music school program in an underserved community. Financial and cultural barriers often prevent people from pursuing music, but I think it is an important part of the success equation, and I want to provide students quality access to it. So, along with my BS/MS track in Pharmaceutical Sciences, I am getting a minor in music and business!

How has your advising experience been at the College of Pharmacy?

I chose UGA because it was a liberal arts university with numerous options. Dr. Pruitt solidified that vision. As soon as I met Dr. Pruitt, we just clicked. He took a personal interest in me and kept me centered and grounded. His calm, common-sense, open-minded demeanor allowed me to have a smooth transition into my college experience.  When I told him how conflicted I was about science vs. music, Dr. Pruitt made me realize I could do it all. He made me understand that I can pursue all of my passions here.  

What’s your favorite aspect about UGA and the College of Pharmacy?  

The BSPS program is more personalized. The opportunities are better, because the program is smaller. In addition, UGA is structured so that I am allowed to pursue both of my passions: music and science. I can’t be put in a box – so I am so happy that UGA has allowed me to pursue both.  

How are you involved at UGA? 

I am involved in three choirs:  the African-American Choral Ensemble, in which I serve as secretary; the Women’s Glee Club; and the Repertory Singers.  In addition, I am active in my sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Incorporated, in which I serve as chaplain, community service chair, and economic development chair.  I am also the Alumni Relations chair for Georgia Daze.

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