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The Power in Your Purpose

By Jessica Schlotfeldt, PharmD Candidate 2021

“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” – Mark Twain

When each of us began pharmacy school, I like to think we all had an idea of why we applied and agreed to spend the next 3.5 years of our lives sleepless, stressed, and mentally exhausted. For some it may have been a familial interest, for others it may have been the draw of a promising career where jobs are stable, and for most it was the desire help people. For me it was the desire to help people and the encouraging nudge of a high school chemistry teacher. I had decided pharmacy was the niche for me early on in my junior year of high school. I applied for Midwestern University’s Dual Acceptance Program through Elmhurst College and had been “accepted” to pharmacy school by the end of my senior year. I knew where I wanted to go and how I wanted to get there, but I had only the most general idea of the impact a pharmacist could have on a patient’s life.

My first day at Midwestern I showed up to registration lucky enough to have some friends there with me, but each of us there with a different motivation. We were encouraged to be a part of everything pharmacy school had to offer (fraternities, organizations, research projects, etc.). Many of us joined organizations and did what we could to fill our resumes, grab at opportunities that exist, and find where we fit into groups. This seems so long ago. As rotations begin, we now decide what is right for ourselves as individuals. We are no longer shielded by the mission statement of our chapters or organizations, or even that of our college. But instead, we must carry our own mission statement. We have to remember (or for some of us, still find) why it is that we filled out applications, showed up for orientation, and why we have pushed through the stress no matter how intense.

At the beginning of pharmacy school, we were told to write a mission statement that we would modify over the years as we found our way through school. Mine has not changed. I wrote:

“I want to live my life in a way that betters the lives of those around me. I want to be able to provide for and support my family in the same way they support and provide for me. I want to live a life in which my passion guides me. I want to be unapologetically me and make the ones I love proud. I want to be remembered as someone who loved what she did and loved it because it bettered the world around her.”

My mission statement has remained the same, but the drive behind it has changed.

The summer after my second year of pharmacy school set me in a new direction. I spent 10 weeks away from home, something I had never done or ever thought of doing previously. There was so much I learned about myself and my values during that time. In those 10 weeks I had the opportunity to learn about the health inequity disaster that exists in the United States. I realized that I had seen these inequities firsthand, but I had never analyzed the situations deeper than the surface level. I knew that if this was the first time I had seen the depth of the issue, there were probably others who had yet to find that these issues exist at all. This research project showed me why the route I chose was the correct one.

I have been given the privilege and the tools to fix some of what is broken, and to aid those who need it most. I love to educate others on health inequity and also enjoy being educated myself. I intend to be part of the team that closes health inequity gaps whether that be through direct patient care, or through higher level policy influence.

Each of us has a drive and each of us will have the impact we want to have as long as we remember the why. We owe it to ourselves, and to every person we impact to live out our mission to the best of our abilities. Even when we are pushed against, we have to push back harder. We have always been told “pharmacy is a small world,” but we should never fear making a big impact.

Jessica Schlotfeldt, PharmD Candidate 2021

Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy

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