Faculty Academic Background Information:
Bachelor of Arts, Cellular & Molecular Biology, University of Montana, Missoula, MT (2008)
Doctor of Pharmacy, University of Montana Skaggs School of Pharmacy, Missoula, MT (2013)
What do you like most about the field of Pharmacy?
I was attracted to the field of pharmacy because I recognized that it was a profession that is in a period of growth and change. The role of the pharmacist continues to evolve, and I was excited about what I saw as an opportunity to be a leader, to take on some interesting challenges, and to be innovative throughout my career. That continues to hold true for me. Pharmacists can make such a huge difference in patient care at all levels, and that feels really rewarding.
What have been some highlights of your career thus far?
While I really enjoyed my past experience working as a clinical pharmacist in a variety of outpatient clinics, joining the faculty at the University of Montana has been the highlight by far. I realized prior to pharmacy school that I loved teaching and mentoring others, and always took on roles throughout my career that involved some aspect of teaching. It has been really exciting to now take on a role where teaching is a main part of my job, where I can work with a lot of other great faculty, and where I can pursue some opportunities that I would never have in a more traditional pharmacy career. What other job would allow me to work in a clinic setting, collaborate on projects with faculty in different departments, and give me a captive audience to subject to my bad humor and out of date memes?
Is there any advice you would give students interested in pursuing a career in Pharmacy?
While many outside of the profession might have a limited view of what a pharmacist does, it’s actually a profession with a lot of variety and opportunities that people don’t generally think about. As an undergraduate, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what a career in pharmacy might look like, and I initially steered a course toward medical school. After a few chance meetings with pharmacists in clinical settings who were doing really interesting things in direct patient care, I explored the potential of pharmacy a little more and was excited to learn about how versatile a Doctor of Pharmacy degree can be. Wherever you are in the process of pursuing a career in pharmacy, I recommend learning all you can about the different roles that a pharmacist might have. Pharmacists aren’t being replaced by robots who count pills, they’re letting the robots count so that they can spend more time with patients. Pharmacists are prescribing medications in outpatient settings, acting as crucial members of the team in the ICU, working on interesting research, tackling public health challenges, and expanding their roles across the spectrum of healthcare. Talk with pharmacists who work in different settings, take advantage of job shadowing opportunities, and do your research on the current trends in pharmacy. You might be surprised by everything that is out there.
My other advice would be to stay well rounded. Many students are overachievers who want to focus on their GPA in their required pre-pharmacy or pharmacy courses, which is great-- but there are so many other things out there. Take opportunities to explore things outside of science classes or core pharmacy curriculum. Having diverse interests and life experiences will make you a better pharmacist. You’ll be able to see the ways that pharmacy interrelates with the world as a whole, you’ll be able to apply some of that seemingly unrelated knowledge to your practice as a pharmacist, and you’ll be able to develop rapport and better relate to a diverse population of people you will work with throughout your career.
What do you like most about living in Missoula and working at the University of Montana?
Being surrounded by students constantly challenges me to be better, and I’m really grateful for that. I also enjoy being part of the campus community and having the opportunity to interact with passionate people in other disciplines. It keeps me well rounded and helps me appreciate all of the interesting things outside of the world of pharmacy.
Off campus, I love that Missoula has a very eclectic mix of things to do and lots of opportunities to get involved in the community. Also, like many others in Missoula, I’m an outdoors aficionado and I love the access to beautiful places in the surrounding area. Mountain biking, skiing, rock climbing, and backpacking are some of my favorite activities. My only complaint is having a bucket list of too many places to explore.