We asked pharmacists from various settings around the country: “Why did you become a pharmacist, and what keeps you motivated?" Their answers are refreshing and motivating, and a reminder of why we all chose pharmacy.
Larry Riggi, PharmD, Pharmacy Manager Walgreens, Spencerport, New York
“I chose to pursue a career in pharmacy because the medical field has always interested me. When it came time to decide, I had heard the rumors about a lucrative pharmacy career back in the early 2000s, and had added that as an option. I was really interested in becoming an ER doctor as well, so I decided to shadow a pharmacist for a day. The pharmacist said one thing that really stuck with me: ‘If you want to have a family later in life, choose pharmacy over ER doctor.’ I chose pharmacy after that day and haven’t looked back. Whether or not that still stands true today with the direction pharmacy is going is still to be determined.
There are a few things that keep me motivated on a regular basis–my kids being the biggest thing. Looking. forward to days off with my kids is what can get me through a long stretch of work every time. I also enjoy seeing my store excel with corporate metrics and comparing how we stack up to other stores. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the desire to be the best in the district wasn’t a motivating factor.”
Laura Dee, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacist Crusader Community Health, Rockford, IL
“I started a part-time job at a retail pharmacy and my pharmacy manager’s compassion and enthusiasm inspired me to become a pharmacist.
As an ambulatory care pharmacist, my coworkers and my patients keep me inspired. I manage a hepatitis C clinic, and just hearing my patients’ stories of all the obstacles they’ve overcome, I’m honored that they entrust their medical care to myself and my team.”
Elaine K. Richer, RPh, CEO MyCureAll, Fair Lawn, NJ
“I always knew that I wanted to work in the medical field, and as pharmacy school was shorter than medical school, it was a no brainer.
As a newly licensed pharmacist, I loved working in a retail setting, interacting with people, helping with their questions, advising on interactions with food or medicine. It was a very fulfilling experience, and I looked forward to going to work every morning.
As the years passed, and I had my daughter, I also realized that working as a pharmacist was a great job for a female because I was able to design my schedule around my family’s needs. Pharmacy as a profession is very versatile–you can do research, or work in a hospital, industry, or retail. You are also learning something new everyday–as our society evolves, so does our profession. When I started out as a pharmacist, I would never imagine vaccinating a patient or administering Narcan, but alas, that is what pharmacists are doing now. And I really enjoy it.
Now that I am in the middle of my career and I decided to completely shift my focus and work in a med/tech start up world, everything I’ve learned as a pharmacist is here to support me, and my knowledge leads the way to new and exciting opportunities.”
Arun Tandon, RPh Advanced Health Pharmacy, Portage, Michigan
“I became a pharmacist as I was very much interested in human health.
What keeps me going is the ability to understand health at a much deeper level and translating it to my patients. Seeing them healthier and happier drives my passion.”
Gunda Siska, PharmD Presbyterian Hospital, Albuquerque, New Mexico
“Even as a kid, I always knew I would work in a hospital. I went to LPN (licensed practical nurse) nursing school concurrently while in high school. Then I automatically went to college to pursue an RN degree, but at the last minute, I decided to pursue pharmacy school. I did retail and mail order work right out of pharmacy school, but felt restless until I got a hospital job. It thrills me to be involved in acute and critical care. I often think of my time as retail pharmacist, and now I write pharmaceutical articles to pass on the knowledge that I acquire in the hospital setting to the retail pharmacists. I think it takes a village to keep the general public safe, and the retail pharmacists are the most accessible. They are on the front lines and I admire their contributions. Iwant to support them the best I can. I think making the world a healthier place is my destiny and life mission.”
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPH
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
“I’ve always looked up to my father, who is a pharmacist, and wanted to follow in his footsteps and make a positive impact on patient care. Educating pharmacists and patients about vaccines, new drug approvals, and hot topics in health care through writing is a true passion of mine. I enjoy helping pharmacists stay up-to-date with the ever-changing profession through drug information updates.”
Andrea Levin, PharmD, BCACP, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy
“I became a pharmacist because of my love and passion for medicine paired with the opportunity to make an impact in patient care. Pairing this with my love of teaching made being a pharmacist faculty the perfect path for me. This is also why I specialized in ambulatory care, as it allows for more longitudinal patient care, often times in an interprofessional setting. Ambulatory care is truly unique since you have the opportunity to interact with both other health care providers and patients equally and work as a team to provide the highest quality of care for a patient.
My motivation as a pharmacist and faculty comes from my students and patients. Seeing how proud and accomplished my students are when they make a difference in a patient’s life reminds me everyday why I love teaching. Also, seeing my patients’ HbA1c or blood pressure or some other laboratory markers either decrease or get to goal and seeing that same sense of accomplishment and knowing that their health will improve keeps me going as a pharmacist.”