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Diversity in Healthcare

Important Advice for Med Students Interested in Pharmacy

Lauren Hammond, a Pharm.D Candidate at the McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University, gives advice for students looking to enter the field of medicine.

How did you decide on your field of study?

I have always found science and the human body captivating, which led me to focus on the field of medicine as early as 6th grade. Throughout my secondary education, I was fortunate to shadow a variety of healthcare providers including physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists and nurses. From these experiences, I gained more insight into each field and the different roles they played within the healthcare environment. However, it was during my time with a pharmacist that I realized how valuable and respected pharmacists are within the healthcare team. Their role on a team, combined with their ability to work directly with patients, was what attracted me to this field of study.

Do you feel diversity in your field is important? How so?

Diversity is another reason I pursued pharmacy. The field of pharmacy is so diverse — from the populations we serve, to the areas of medical practice we are involved in, to the healthcare providers we interact with, and the questions we help answer. According to the literature, 90 percent of the U.S. population lives within two miles of a pharmacy. This accessibility brings about a need for adaptability. Pharmacists are in small towns and big cities, communities and academic medical centers, children’s hospitals and nursing homes; pharmacists care for all people. As our country grows in diversity, so must we. It is important that every patient be treated equally and given the utmost of care and respect, regardless of their background. All patients should be able to relate to and trust their providers.

What do you think the future of pharmacy looks like?

The future of pharmacy is very bright, as the roles of pharmacists are expanding. While responsibilities of pharmacists vary across different parts of the country, many vaccinate, perform annual wellness visits, adjust doses of medications, and counsel on medications and healthy lifestyle choices. Pharmacists are becoming integral parts of healthcare teams. With the number of medications on the market along with our expertise, I believe pharmacists will soon be recognized as providers who will serve as medication specialists working alongside physicians to improve disparities in the healthcare system.

Can you share one of your favorite memories as a pharmacy student?

One of my favorite memories occurred early in my fourth year of pharmacy school during clinical rotations. For weeks, I was monitoring and visiting an older patient who was admitted to the hospital for a heart condition. Through talking with him about his medication during his time at the hospital, I built a relationship with him. He told stories about his time in the U.S. Air Force, his family and his travels. On my last day at the hospital, he gave me some parting advice: “You know, I may not make it out of this hospital bed. I may not ever make it home. But I can tell you that I have done everything in my life that I wanted to do, so I’ll be happy. Live your life like each day is your last.”

What advice would you give current students applying to pharmacy school?

I could write for pages about this question, but I would simply say that you get out of pharmacy school what you put in. I would tell students to take time to invest in relationships with colleagues, faculty members and administrators. It is important that students find a mentor early in their career because mentors are able to help not only with study techniques, but can provide advice on a future career path. I would also encourage students to get involved with the profession early on by joining organizations, attending conferences and making networking connections. I am lucky to have made friends in California, Virginia, Florida and Puerto Rico through these opportunities. Lastly, I would advise students to keep an open mind because there are so many exciting opportunities within the field of pharmacy. From community pharmacy to inpatient pharmacy, specialties like pediatrics, oncology, nuclear pharmacy and primary care — you never know where you will find your calling within the profession.

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