When I was five years old, a dog on my grandmothers dairy farm attacked me. Fortunately, my injuries werent life-threatening, and my mother drove me to the nearest hospital to get stitches on the left side of my face. I was only there a few hours, but I was prescribed medication that needed to be picked up before going back to my grandmothers farm. I have few memories of that day, but I do remember a pharmacist coming to the waiting area to show me a list of possible flavorings for my prescription.
It was a big decision for a kindergartnercherry was my favorite flavor, but the thought of getting strawberry held merit as well. My five minutes of indecisiveness would have frustrated most people; however, the pharmacist smiled as he patiently listened to my reasoning and provided me with flavor suggestions. Not only were my concerns (albeit trivial) heard and addressed, but the pharmacist took time to establish a personal, caring relationship with me.
In retrospect, this interaction helped me understand the field of pharmacy is multifaceted. Pharmacists must be compassionate, team players and effective problem solvers in addition to having a strong background in hard science. My experiences working as a chemistry tutor and as a coordinator for a STEM outreach conference have helped me strengthen these skills.
Medicine is much more than an applied science. Although being an introductory chemistry tutor fostered my interest in pharmaceuticals, I learned it took more than knowledge of molecular orbitals to help other students. Alison, one of my tutees, was doing well in the course, but struggled with weekly quizzes. I always freeze and forget everything on quiz day, she once told me. As I listened to her frustration, I found the root of the problem was with her lack of confidence, not the material itself. I then admitted I had done poorly on a few quizzes in that class. She was shocked someone pursuing a biochemistry degree had also struggled. I heard you did really well in this class though. Whats your secret? she inquired. I revealed that I had no secret per se; the only way I overcame my test anxiety was through hard work and preparation. Our conversation gave me an idea, and the start of Chemistry Bingo nights ensued. Quick! Which intramolecular force is the strongest? Id ask as my tutees searched frantically to see if hydrogen bonding was on their Bingo cards. I thought if they could master the material in a fun environment, they would be more likely to retain the information. When I discovered Alison passed her most recent quiz, it felt like a success for me as well. Her grade was evidence that
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