Helping to develop future pharmacists plays an important role in Puja Sharma’s (PharmD ’15) life. She is a pharmacist at Baxter CIVA Pharmacy Services and first applied to be a PharmD interviewer during her last two years at Waterloo Pharmacy.

PharmD interviewers help to interview new prospective students looking to start a doctoral degree.

“Volunteering at the School gives me a sense of wholeness,” says Sharma. “I’m fortunate that I am able to make a difference by giving back in such a positive way to our profession.”

Sharma continues to volunteer annually in the PharmD interviewer role, seeing it as a way to give back to the educational experience that set her up for success.

Puja Sharma’s reflection:

Dr. Puja Sharma“My first-time volunteering as a PharmD interviewer was during my third year at Waterloo Pharmacy. I remember one of the pharmacists on the panel kept looking at me and she mentioned that I looked familiar to her. I brushed it off and thought it must have been in the halls at the School while we were both studying.

“After a few hours, the same interviewer approached me and remembered that she was the one who interviewed me because she recognized my tone of voice and my face. This full-circle moment was quite heartwarming to me. I look forward to choosing strong future pharmacists every year and am proud to welcome them to the profession upon graduation.”

“Every year we interview over 240 applicants for the PharmD admission cycle and involve over 90 volunteers, of which our alumni make up the vast majority,” says Kaitlin Bynkoski, director of admissions and undergraduate affairs at the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy.

“Our alumni have been through the interview process themselves and offer a valuable and unique perspective to admission decisions,” Bynkoski continues. “The Waterloo interview process continues to thrive through the contributions and service of our dedicated volunteers.”

When Sharma applied to the School of Pharmacy, she was herself interviewed by two pharmacists and another doctoral student.

“I remember thinking at the time ‘I’d love to be on the PharmD interview panel someday’ in addition to being a pharmacist,” Sharma says.

Sharma enjoys connecting with the interviewees by answering their questions about her journey as a pharmacist and by telling them of her experience.

She also values the opportunity to see what’s in store with the future generation of pharmacists, in addition to a sense of continued connectedness to Waterloo.

“It’s important to think of the student pharmacy applicant as an individual. I look at the way they answer questions and ask myself ‘can I see them as a future pharmacist’,” says Sharma.

National Volunteer Week in Canada runs April 16 -22 this year. The theme, Volunteering Weaves us Together, focuses on celebrating all individual and group actions to build a unified and vibrant community. All our volunteers help bring the pharmacy community together through the School of Pharmacy. We are highlighting Waterloo Pharmacy volunteers this year through #NVW2023 #WeavingUsTogether. Visit the School of Pharmacy website for more volunteer highlights.