Pharmacy, Sports Medicine, and Lessons Learned Along the Way

By Athena Cannon, Class of 2020, Texas Tech University

Since my first year of pharmacy school, I have had a curiosity with what a pharmacist’s role could be in working with athletes. When reflecting back on my initial interest, I think it stems from my aspirations for personal growth, optimal health, and becoming the absolute best version of myself, all of which athletes constantly role model. I am very thankful to have been raised in a culture that supported following curiosity, regardless of what the end result would be, so I did just that.

Throughout my first and second year of pharmacy school, I shadowed many different health professionals in the realm of sports medicine and with no surprise, none of them were pharmacists. In addition to learning an incredible amount about the athletic population and their medical needs, I gained tremendous insight about the role of different health professions in an athlete’s care including nurse practitioners, physician assistants, athletic trainers, sports medicine physicians, and orthopedic surgeons. Throughout the years, I have had opportunities to learn from and be involved with the National Football League, Olympic Training Center, U.S Antidoping Agency, and the Partnership for Clean Competition. I have also had the incredible opportunity to develop an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) elective with Texas Tech University and complete research on the use of dietary supplements and medications in rural West Texas athletes. I am so grateful to say that I have truly been able to follow my passion.

All of this is to say that, this can be and will be your story too.

As a current fourth year PharmD student, I look back and am in awe of where my journey has taken me and of the future opportunities in the field of sports medicine and antidoping. But it took incredibly small and incremental steps to get here. For instance, I emailed everyone in my area that I could possibly learn from and expressed my genuine passion. This led to shadowing professionals during the times I didn’t have class. I read many books and attended various conferences in hopes of understanding where our knowledge could be utilized. Eventually as my knowledge and passion for the antidoping initiative grew, I volunteered to present lectures to the athletic teams of local universities. I reached out to many different organizations involved in sport, inquiring about any opportunities to be involved. Most importantly, I had incredible mentors that not only cheered me on, but also challenged my ideas and forced me to answer the difficult questions of, “Why?” And “How?”.

Among the many lessons I have learned throughout this journey, the following are true:

· There is no one path to reaching your ultimate goal and it is okay to not know what that journey looks like.

· Go into every opportunity with the willingness to learn. You never know who will help you over that next obstacle or what conversations will spark a new idea.

· If you don’t identify with having a passion at this point in your career, follow your curiosities.

· There are incredible individuals out there that want to help you achieve your goal and see you succeed, but you have to ask for help and advice.

From the incredible works of Oprah Winfrey, “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”

Connect with Athena on LinkedIn!

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