Leadership Profile - Alicia Juska

April 24, 2015


Alicia Juska, PharmD, BCPS
ICHP Champion and Residency Program Director at Swedish Covenant Hospital

Where did you go to pharmacy school?
University of Illinois - College of Pharmacy

Trace your professional history since graduation: where have you trained / worked, any special accomplishments?
I graduated from the University of Illinois in Chicago where I received my PharmD degree and went on to complete my Pharmacy Practice Residency (PGY-1) at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare (ENH), which is now a part of the NorthShore University Health System.  After residency, I was hired as a clinical pharmacist at Swedish Covenant Hospital (SCH), focusing on critical care.  While staffing, I became involved with many department projects which led to my participation on several hospital committees.  As we have a progressive practice site, I have been fortunate to present several posters at the ASHP Clinical Meetings regarding some of our pharmacist driven protocols, including heparin, insulin, procalcitonin, and sedation.  I have also been a speaker at two of the ICHP Spring Meetings.  In addition, recently three co-workers and I published a literature review on statin-associated incident diabetes in the Consultant Pharmacist.

Describe your current area of practice and practice setting.
I worked as a clinical pharmacist, obtained board certification, and am now the Residency Program Director.  I started a new PGY-1 pharmacy residency at SCH, with four residents.  In addition to developing a new program and structure, creating a residency manual and policies, preceptor education and motivation was key.  The SCH PGY-1 residency is now in its second year.  In addition, I currently serve as the Institutional Review Board Coordinator, editor of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Newsletter, and a member of the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, Graduate Medical Education Committee, and lead the Residency Advisory Committee. 

What initially motivated you to get involved, and what benefits do you see in being active in a professional association such as ICHP?
Even as a student, I have always been involved in professional organizations.  It is a great way to meet people, exchange ideas, and get energized about the profession.  At every meeting you are able to speak with pharmacists throughout the country, find out current practice trends, and learn how various parts of the country deal with global issues affecting the pharmacy profession.  My Director of Pharmacy, Ramesh Patel, re-introduced me to ICHP several years ago by encouraging me to speak at an ICHP Spring meeting.  Being an active member of ICHP allows you to build a network of pharmacists with whom you can share ideas in order to learn about the profession, what is new, and what challenges are facing us in the future. Also, it is fun to reconnect with friends from school or previous colleagues working at other organizations.

What advice would you give to a new practitioner eager to become more involved within ICHP? To the new grad? To the student?
This can apply to all three: Start small but get involved and talk to people.  Attend a local meeting, talk to ICHP members, and ask about how you can get involved.  Review the ICHP website for ideas and contact key people to join a sub-committee or submit an article to KeePosted.  For the new grad, sign up to be a student mentor or serve as a poster reviewer.  Also ask co-workers or preceptors who are ICHP members how they got more involved with the organization and if they know of any opportunities.

Is there an individual you admire or look up to, or a mentor that has influenced your career?
I have worked with many great clinicians and leaders during my career who have contributed to my personal and professional growth; however there are two individuals that I need to highlight.  My mother, Irena Juska, Consultant Pharmacist at HCR-ManorCare, has been a great mentor and role model. She is committed to the profession and very dedicated to life-long learning.  Prior to long-term care consulting and precepting students, she worked in multiple facets of pharmacy including owning her own retail pharmacy and being a Director of Pharmacy at La Rabida Children’s Hospital.  She has always been a strong promoter of the pharmacy profession and its versatility.  She has been a leader and active member in several pharmacy organizations throughout her career.  She has always encouraged me to work hard and aim high when setting goals and then supported me until I reached those goals.  She leads by example and has given me positive encouragement every step of the way.  My second mentor is Zoon Park, previous Assistant Director at SCH.  He is an extremely dedicated, hard-working, and well-read individual.  We worked together over a decade and I admired how he embodied using evidence-based literature and team work to solve any pharmacy related issue.  On a personal level, he pushed me to constantly challenge myself and the status quo in order to improve.  He always worked with you when something was hard with a favorite quote, “We learn together, we go together.”  His constant encouragement during my time at SCH has definitely led to many of my professional achievements.     

As a newer practitioner, what is your vision for pharmacy in the future? Or what would you like to able to see accomplished within pharmacy?
It is my hope that pharmacists receive healthcare provider status in the near future.  Pharmacists are highly trained, with many practitioners having gone on to complete residencies and obtain further certifications.  Collectively we could do so much more for patient care if we receive legal authority to do so. I think the future possibilities for our profession could be endless, however we need to be creative in how to best maximize our impact on healthcare.    

What three adjectives would people use to best describe you?

Do you have any special interests or hobbies outside of pharmacy/work/school? Special accomplishments?
Any time I can spend outside is great.  I enjoy running, biking, and walking my dog along the Lakefront path.  I have always loved reading and watching movies.  Also, I love traveling, especially to beach destinations. 

Do you have a favorite restaurant/food?
Going out for tapas with my friends always guarantees a fun night out.  CafÉ Ba Ba Reeba has always been a great place, offering many sangria flavors.  I like the idea of sharing small plates so that you can taste more dishes.

Where is your favorite place to vacation?
Hawaii is my favorite place.  There is something magical about those islands, where you feel relaxed the moment you get off the plane.  The snorkeling, beaches, and flowers are amazing.  Every island has a different character to it, but all are beautiful and the people are so happy and friendly. 

What is the most interesting/unique fact about yourself that few people know?
In the last three years I have developed a new passion for running.  What started out as a challenge because I could not do it has turned into an activity that I really enjoy.  In less than a year, I have run five half marathons and am currently training for the Chicago Marathon this year.

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