Bourgeois joined Drug Topics® to discuss her career, her journey, and her nonprofit.
The third annual SingleCare Best of the Best Pharmacy Awards generated thousands of nominations from SingleCare customers across the United States. Today, Drug Topics® sat down with Jennifer Bourgeois, PharmD, a pharmacist at Market Street Pharmacy in McKinney, Texas and winner of the 2021 Best Pharmacist Award, to discuss her career, her journey, and her nonprofit.
Drug Topics®: Hi everyone, I'm Lauren Biscaldi and I'm the Managing Editor of Drug Topics®. Today, I'm here with Jennifer Bourgeois, winner of the Best Pharmacist Award in the third annual SingleCare Best of the Best Pharmacy Awards. Thank you for joining me, Jennifer, I really appreciate it.
I'd like to get things started with an introduction. Can you tell our viewers a bit about who you are and the work that you do?
Jennifer Bourgeois, PharmD: Thanks so much for having me, Lauren. My name is Jennifer Bourgeois, I am a community pharmacist in McKinney, Texas. I’ve worked 12 years in this industry. I am wife to my college sweetheart and Mama to 2 girls. I received my Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Louisiana Tech University, and my Doctorate of Pharmacy from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
I went on this year to become a clinical pharmacist for Market Street, and that has allowed me opportunities to work and oversee our clinical programs for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Drug Topics®: So, I’d love to talk about the relationship that you have with your customers and your patients. To be nominated for this award in the first place means that you've certainly made an impact on many. Can you tell us a little bit about how you prioritize these relationships within your practice on a daily basis?
Bourgeois: I'd love to. The reason I chose community pharmacy is because of the people. My heart for being a pharmacist is to make a difference in the lives of people, and I do you think that shines through to my patients; I think they feel that genuine love, compassion, and empathy that I have for them at the counter. And, also, there's an opportunity for as pharmacists to really differentiate ourselves in regard to service. I think the roles and responsibilities are the same across community pharmacy, but it's the way that we show up and the way that we provide that service that allows us to make a really big impact.
And so, for me, just those small ways that I can go above and beyond at every patient interaction—and that looks different every time—but always just keeping my focus on the patient has been very helpful. So, not to get distracted by the chaos that is always going on on the back counter, but just to really stay focused on that patient and give them that undivided attention when I'm there with them, and just create a really positive experience for them. I think that is what has built this loyalty with my patients. For 8 years now I've been with many of them, taking care of them, and I think that that has made a really impact on them.
Drug Topics®: That's incredible. You know, the pharmacy that I go to is a small, local community pharmacy and…all of the times that I have spoken to the pharmacist stand out to me. You know, you can just walk in and say, “Hey, can I talk to the pharmacist?” It’s a lot harder to get hold of your doctor; I think that people recognize that, and I hope that they value that.
In reading your bio—first of all I was just so impressed with everything that you do—I wanted to hear a little bit about your nonprofit, A New View. Do you have any advice for pharmacists who are looking to create similar foundation or get involved in their own communities in that way?
Bourgeois: Thanks for asking about this. So, this is very near and dear to my heart. In 2017, we started A New View in honor of my oldest daughter. She was diagnosed with strabismus, and we learned that she had several vision impairments. I think our viewers here who are parents can probably relate to this story that when you receive a diagnosis for your child, it creates a lot of restlessness, anxiety, and stress over the future.
And so, instead of focusing on the things we couldn’t control and the things we didn't know, we really wanted to channel that energy into a project that could bring impact and positivity, and really use this opportunity to share her story to make a difference in our community. We developed A New View, where we collect and recycle old eyeglasses and contacts. We are in partnership with the Lions Club; we utilize their recycle centers—we have one of those near to Dallas. It's been a great way for us to teach our daughters about service and about getting involved in your community and giving back.
I was able to partner with Market Street in this project. I have receptacles at all of our pharmacy locations in the Dallas area. That has also been a really great way for Market Street to also have a community project, and the patients love it because there are so many people that are actually looking to offload these old eyeglasses.
My advice to pharmacists who are looking to maybe start a nonprofit or a project like this in their community is, just: whatever passion and vision you have in your heart, to act on it. I'm happy to connect and walk you through actionable steps that I took to see this to fruition, but I think it just comes down to, if you see a need, and you really have that passion, that you just go for it…There's such a need in our communities for these service projects.
Drug Topics®: That's an incredible offer. Is there a way that, if viewers do want to send you eyeglasses or anything like that, is there a way for them to connect with you? We can make sure that we provide that information.
Bourgeois:Yes. We are on Facebook and Instagram. @ANewView_McKinney is [our] Instagram, and A New View McKinney is [our] Facebook. I would love to connect and give you the address where you can send those eyeglasses, and if you’re local to the Dallas area, you can visit any of our Market Street pharmacies to drop those off.
Drug Topics®: Fantastic, thank you for sharing all of that. To wrap things up, are there any final thoughts that you'd like to share with our viewers about community pharmacy or pushing through the end of this year and the pandemic? Is there any wisdom that you’d like to impart?
Bourgeois: I think that me being here on this platform—this interview with you—has really allowed me to reflect and to kind of gain some insight on my journey, and where I started and where I am now.
I wanted to just share a little analogy with the viewers that what you’re seeing here is the harvest. And I want to make sure that you understand the process to get here. It starts with the seed, and that was the education, that was the licensing, the certification, right? All those pieces that had to happen to get to the sowing. And the sowing of the seed, that’s 12 years in this profession of showing up when it was hard, showing up when we didn't have the staffing, focusing on the patient and always knowing that it’s about them and I'm here to serve them and just being intentional throughout that whole process.
And then there’s the waiting—you sow the seed and that takes time, right? [The waiting is] just continuing to work when there was no recognition; 12 years of showing for my patients—yes, they appreciated me and that helps, but as far as this type of recognition.
And then the sprouting—that's sometimes when actual struggle or brokenness happens, and I do remember that time. It was about 4 to 5 years into my career in community [pharmacy] and I had that moment with myself where I thought, “Is this for me? Is this really where I'm called to serve?” It was so difficult, and I had just reached a point where I felt like I really questioned this this purpose and this journey. But I knew—and I felt really strong about—this is where I'm called to be, this is where I’m called to serve; I’ve been gifted in so many ways that I feel like it was obvious to me that this is where I needed to be, continuing to sow and wait.
And then, I was able to receive this recognition. I feel like this is very much the harvest part of the journey. And so, to all the pharmacists who are out there who are sowing, who are waiting, who are sprouting, I just want to say, keep going. What you’re doing is making the biggest difference. You may not see it, you may not have the recognition, but it's just it's so important, I think, for us to know that what we get to reap in the harvest—it is so honoring and humbling. And I can’t tell you how much—obviously—how much it means to me.
I just want to encourage the pharmacists who are out there working fay in and day out that you are making a difference.
Drug Topics®: You know, I'm a writer, I love a good analogy, and that was a that was very powerful. I think that you just phrased that in such a way that it just makes a lot of sense.
This is not an easy time for anyone, but it's particularly not an easy time for you and your peers and your fellow pharmacists, and I can't thank you and the rest of the pharmacy community enough for everything that you've been doing for the last almost 2 years.
I want to thank you again for taking the time to speak with us today and share your story, and thank you for everything that you do.
Bourgeois: Thank you, Lauren. Thank you so much for this opportunity to share. I really appreciate it.