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Midwestern University College of Pharmacy, Downers Grove
Not All Heroes Wear Capes: A Pharmacist's Impact
by Sara Salama, PS-4, ICHP Member, Midwestern University College of Pharmacy
“Every action we take impacts the lives of others around us. The question is: Are you aware of your impact?”
As I think about the wealth of knowledge and experiences I have acquired as a pharmacy student over the past few years, I can’t help but think to myself, “What’s next?” What is the value of all that I have learned and memorized? What will this all amount to? What can I do with the therapeutic knowledge of disease states and treatment plans that have been discussed in class? How can I use my understanding of pharmacology for patient care? And what does this all mean to the lives of the people around me?
When I think about what is next, I can’t ignore my journey getting here. As I progress through my fourth-year rotations, I remember small tidbits of my first quarter as a pharmacy student. I remember how the information I was learning sounded new and unfamiliar. I remember the late-night studying and early morning exams that felt like they would never end. But I also remember the motivation and consistency of my peers and myself. I remember our ambition to learn and grow as future pharmacists. Little by little, we were making progress.
And when I broaden my thinking and ponder the practice of pharmacy that I am getting more and more exposure to today, I am proud of the strides our profession has made, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Pharmacists work in a variety of practice settings, from community pharmacies to hospitals to outpatient clinics to offices. While our day-to-day roles and responsibilities may differ in each practice setting, every pharmacist I have had the pleasure of working with has reminded me of the same concept - each pharmacist has set out with the same goal: to make a positive difference in the healthcare of others, and I couldn’t be more excited to join in accomplishing that same goal.
Taking a moment to reflect on the past year reinforces the positive impact that pharmacists have made during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our community pharmacists have been at the forefront of vaccination efforts receiving shipment upon shipment of COVID-19 vaccines to administer to the public. Our community pharmacists have also served as a significant source of reassurance at a time when knowledge was the only way to fight doubt. With many people sharing concerns about receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, pharmacists in all settings were educating and guiding others to make the best decision for themselves. They provided information on the most up-to-date CDC guidelines. Our clinical outpatient pharmacists continued to motivate their patients to manage their health and were committed to their care, encouraging them to check in via telehealth, if that was a feasible option. They were the cheerleaders who helped encourage patients to make small but consistent changes to their lifestyle or medication use, leading to positive outcomes. Finally, our clinical pharmacists were courageous to serve the acutely ill COVID-19 patients. They carefully dosed medications and stayed up-to-date on new therapeutic recommendations to better care for the critically ill. So as I wrap up my remaining rotations as a fourth-year pharmacy student, I am excited to join in on this caliber of work and impact the lives of the people around me, just like my pharmacy teachers and mentors have.
As pharmacy students, I think we often tend to forget that we, too, have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the health of our community. As the former president of the Middle Eastern Pharmacist Association (MePA), I was blessed with the opportunity to bring free and accessible health care to my community. As student pharmacists, we provided blood pressure, blood glucose, and A1C point of care tests. We educated our patients on how best to manage their chronic disease states such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes by making small yet consistent lifestyle changes. We built lasting and trusting relationships with our health screening sites, and we can continue to influence our communities positively. We, as student pharmacists, can make a difference.
And as I continue to learn and grow throughout my pharmacy career, I look forward to continuing to make a lasting impact on the lives of the people around me. I hope to be a source of reassurance and knowledge to the public on matters that cause uncertainty or confusion within healthcare. I hope to model excellent patient care and create honest and trusting relationships with my patients. I hope to leave a lasting impact.
“When you love people and have the desire to make a profound, positive impact upon the world, then you have accomplished the meaning to live.”
~ Sasha Azevedo