Nicolas Palacios completed his second year of pharmacy school at our Chapel Hill campus and is now going to take classes at the business school for a whole year as part of his MBA. From Thousand Oaks, CA, he completed his studies at California State University, Channel Islands where he received his Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and Master Degree in Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. Nicolas’ journey in pharmacy actually started at CVS over 10 years ago! When he began working at CVS, he worked in the photo lab and was then later placed in the pharmacy due to his superb computer literacy! Nicolas lives by the motto, “Each one, teach one” as he loves to mentor and share his knowledge with others. Nicolas enjoys going to concerts in his free time– he has been to over 100!! So if you ever need concert recommendations, he is certainly the one to ask!! For today’s student spotlight feature, Sit with Senate’s Vera Pervitsky interviewed Nicolas.
Vera Pervitsky (VP): How has your perspective on the profession of pharmacy changed since joining the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy (ESOP) community?
Nicolas Palacios (NP): Since joining the ESOP community, I’ve come to learn about all the various capacities pharmacists use their education to serve patients. Beyond clinical roles in the hospital and patient-facing positions in community pharmacy, there are Clinical Pharmacist Practitioners (CPP) and ambulatory care roles where pharmacists can be the first healthcare providers managing patients’ diseases and medications.
VP: Since we both moved here from California, what is the biggest change you have had to get used to?
NP: I think the biggest change I’ve had to get used to is just the pace of things, outside of school that is! Los Angeles and its surrounding suburbs tend to feel rushed, even for someone from there. When driving and getting groceries here, nothing feels as rushed! I’ve come to love the southern hospitality and kindness shown here, especially in small talk with strangers and greeting everyone in the hall. It’s been a great experience!
VP: Just like Nicolas, I definitely feel like life runs at a slower pace here in North Carolina. The biggest adjustment for me, aside from the weather (who knew we would have snow storms, hurricanes, and tornados?… oh my!), was probably the vast amount of bugs here. If you know me, you know that I am TERRIFIED of basically all bugs, so I am still adjusting to this… two years later.
VP: What have you learned about yourself since you started pharmacy school?
NP: Pharmacy school has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done and it’s taught me that I have the capacity to handle more than I could ever imagine! Between organizations, leadership, classes, social life, research, a job, and dating; I never thought I would be able to do so much. My time as a pharmacy student has been challenging but rewarding. I’ve seen that I’m capable of successfully juggling so many different things at once, which has been very satisfying.
VP: What field of pharmacy are you interested in and why?
NP: I’m interested in working as a pharmacist in the pharmaceutical industry in a research and development (R&D) strategy role. By combining my previous education, MBA, and PharmD, I will be able to help a great number of patients.
VP: What made you decide that you wanted to apply to the business school? Can you speak about the application process?
NP: I realized my interest in the management of projects during our first year of pharmacy school. The more I explored and spoke to business professionals in the pharma space, I realized the MBA would be the perfect catalyst to my career. Students who are interested in getting an MBA should apply the fall of their second year in pharmacy school. Those students should take the GRE/GMAT and prepare their personal statements for the application during the first summer of pharmacy school (after PY1 year). Admission decisions are rolled out from December to April of the second year of pharmacy school.
VP: What stress management strategies do you utilize?
NP: I make it a point to take time for myself and my well-being throughout the week. There is always something to do, but sometimes it can wait! It’s tempting to work through the lunch hour or to study most of the weekend and not socialize, but I try to use those brief moments off as just that, time off. I have lunch with friends and don’t open my laptop, I grab dinner with friends on the weekends or play a game on my Xbox instead of staying curled over my notes. I stay in contact with non-pharmacy friends here and back home in California to maintain those relationships, and don’t talk about pharmacy all the time! These little breaks help me stay energized when it’s time to hit the books again.
VP: What is your favorite restaurant in the Triangle area?
NP: Where we’re at right now- Mediterranean Deli on Franklin Street! Healthy, quick, consistent and close to the pharmacy school. Not to mention all walks of life eat here, you never know who you may bump into eating a falafel pita at a table outside!
VP: What has been your most memorable experience during pharmacy school?
NP: My most memorable experience during pharmacy school has been the early immersions I did at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC. I thought moving to the Triangle from California was a culture shock, but wait until you get out of it! My immersion at Vidant Medical Center taught me so much more than clinical decision making and operations. I learned about so many challenges that patients and providers face at the hospitals in small towns communities, and how pharmacists step into all of those challenges. In addition, I had a great experience meeting the patients, and getting to know the staff at Vidant and came to find out that we have many more commonalities than we do differences.
VP: What advice can you offer to new pharmacy students?
NP: Make the most of your time in pharmacy school. This is a unique place where you can explore hundreds of career paths, listen to many different guest speakers, and find volunteer opportunities in a short amount of time. Go to as many meetings you can! Talk with your professors! Stay after and ask speakers questions! The environment at ESOP is made to present these opportunities to you, all you have to do is go grab them.