by Sena Seged, PharmD Candidate 2022 | Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy
“I don’t think you can do that as a pharmacist."
These were the words that were spoken to me before I started pharmacy school. I was having this conversation with a managed care pharmacist at Starbucks a few days before my P1 white coat ceremony. I was proudly sharing with him how I wanted to pursue a career in global health. He told me that it wasn’t smart to set my career aspirations based on my personal interests and that I should try something more stable, like working in the community setting or as a clinical pharmacist...
Taking his words into consideration, I spent my entire P1 year trying to do the things that would be more “acceptable.” I joined the “right” clubs. I worked the “ideal” job as a pharmacy intern in a hospital. I signed my name up for every single patient care event. I made sure to wipe out international health from my mind because apparently, that was not a career choice option as a pharmacist.
I was miserable. I hated my first year of pharmacy school. I stretched myself so thin and was burned out all the time. Is this what pharmacy school is supposed to be like? Fake it till you make it, am I right? WRONG. I was struggling emotionally, spiritually, and physically. By the time I finished P1 year I honestly felt like I had nothing to offer to the pharmacy world. I thought, surely pharmacy school won’t be like this all 4 years.
I had a reality check with myself and had to think back and remember why I was going to pharmacy school in the first place. I remembered my white coat ceremony, with my friends and family so proud of me. I remembered my IPPE rotation where I counseled an Egyptian patient on her Ibuprofen in Arabic because she couldn’t understand English. I remembered an Ethiopian patient who had a hard time communicating with his nurses because of the language barrier and I was able to translate back and forth, because I too, can speak Amharic, the Ethiopian language. I remembered an elderly Hispanic male who listened to my recommendation on taking his diuretic earlier during the day because he kept waking up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
I thought: if I can do these simple things as a student, surely, I can do something on a pharmacist level serving these types of patients. Is it possible to combine my passion and profession? Who said I couldn’t be successful doing that?
I took P2 year as my opportunity to grow and search for ways I could serve these populations. I stepped out of my comfort zone and spent my time volunteering, shadowing and taking on any opportunity that involved global health care and pharmacy. Every chance I had, I connected “pharmacy” and “global health” as much as possible. I reached out to professors, LinkedIn connections, and preceptors. It surprised me how smoothly the dots connected. I took it a step further and added in my passion for technology and informatics. I can’t explain how many emails I have that state “I am interested in opportunities involving pharmacy, global health and informatics” and how many opportunities that I have created for myself.
Now, I’m entering my third year of pharmacy school. I understand my why and my purpose. I spend less time trying to do the right things for everyone else and do the right things for me. I’m in organizations and leadership positions where I am purposefully serving my patients.
It is possible to intersect your passion with your purpose. It is never too late to understand your “why”. Everyone’s purpose is different. I mean, how boring would the field of pharmacy be if we are all doing the same thing? I thank God every day for reminding me of why I’m doing what I’m doing, and to never sell myself short. If you’re feeling discouraged or disappointed, take a step back and look at the big picture. Pharmacy school is not about boosting your CV or following the same path as every else. Remember your patients. Remember your skill set. Remember your “why”.
Acting globally, thinking locally.
Facebook: Sena Seged