Pharmacy careers come in many different shapes and sizes. For Amy Tiemeier, PharmD, BCPS, her career in the industry is essentially multiple jobs in one!
Dr. Tiemeier works as an associate professor of pharmacy practice, the director of community partnerships, and the associate director of experiential education at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. How does she manage it all? Dr. Tiemeier gave us an inside look at what it’s like to spend a day in her life.
Read on to learn how she’s navigated numerous possible pharmacy careers, mastered the art of multitasking, and even incorporated her interest in music into her pharmacy career.
Why did you choose pharmacy?
When thinking about possible careers as a high school student, I knew I liked the field of medicine—my mom was a nurse, so I already had a understanding of the industry.
To better familiarize myself with the industry, I spoke with a family friend who was a pharmacist, and spent time shadowing the outpatient pharmacists at St. Louis Children’s Hospital where my dad worked. I loved everything about those experiences! From that point on, I was pretty sure I wanted to pursue pharmacy.
As college drew closer, I was faced with a challenging decision. Should I pursue my passion for playing viola by attending music school? Or, should I pursue a career in pharmacy as I originally planned?
Ultimately, while I loved being a musician, I knew how competitive professional music was. So, I decided pharmacy school would be the best choice because I could pursue my pharmacy career, while also playing music on the side.
I chose to attend St. Louis College of Pharmacy. And, during my first four years there, I played viola in a symphony orchestra while pursuing my pharmacy degree. It was truly the best of both worlds!
What type of pharmacist are you?
I would say I’m an academic pharmacist or pharmacy educator. I’m a licensed and board-certified pharmacist, but I work at a college of pharmacy and teach in experiential education. My job is to arrange experiences for pharmacy students to put their learning into practice out in the field.
In addition to that job, I also serve as the director of community partnerships at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, which is a role that few pharmacists have. In this position, I work with many community and non-profit organizations in the St. Louis area to help improve the health outcomes of the populations they’re serving.
This part of my job includes partnering with community groups to bring pharmacy students to their sites in the St. Louis region. At these locations, they conduct health fairs and/or provide other important health-related information and services to members of the community.
A large portion of my community-oriented work is focused on the opioid crisis and implementing solutions to help address it. Over the past 15 years, I’ve formed partnerships with organizations to develop and implement initiatives to increase public awareness of prescription medication abuse, highlight the importance of proper medication disposal, and educate pharmacists and health care providers on their role in opioid abuse prevention.
What makes your career path unique?
I think my path has been unique because I never intended to become an academic pharmacist.
I really like patient care, and I originally aspired to be a neonatal intensive care unit pharmacist. But, after completing a rotation in an ambulatory care clinic, I fell in love with the setting and opportunities that it offered to follow patients long-term.
That rotation then led to a residency with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System, which piqued my interest in geriatrics. So, when I finished my residency, I accepted a position with St. Louis College of Pharmacy that allowed me to practice in a geriatric-based clinic.
During my time at STLCOP, I had the opportunity to help with experiential education and realized how much I liked facilitating hands-on learning for students. It’s amazing to witness students having “Aha!” moments where they connect what they’ve been learning in the classroom with real life.
To end up as full-time faculty at STLCOP and serve in this community partnerships role is very special. It’s a non-traditional job model that is a lot of fun, and not at all what I expected.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the diversity in the things I get to do. It’s also extremely rewarding to be able to work in the community and help provide information, education, and services with the goal of improving quality of life for residents living in those areas.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
There really isn’t a typical workday for me. Much of my time is spent facilitating projects via email, but I also have many off-campus meetings with our various community partners. During the day, I also set aside time to meet with students. My time with students is usually spent advising or helping to navigate challenges within their courses.
Some of my other day-to-day responsibilities include developing presentations for outside organizations or groups, doing a variety of speaking engagements, serving as a media spokesperson on a range of topics, and accompanying students on their field experience site visits.
What do the most rewarding days of your career look like?
My most rewarding days are the days when I have a chance to connect with my students and help them be more successful. Whether I’m providing support, helping broaden their knowledge, or improving their skills, I love knowing that I’ve contributed to their success in a meaningful way.
What do the most challenging days of your career look like?
The most challenging days of my career occur when I have to convey to a student that pharmacy may not be the right career path for them.
This is tough because many students view this conversation as rejection. But, as an advisor, my job is to help students determine whether or not they can be successful in pharmacy. If pharmacy isn’t working out, I encourage them to look at other career options and discover a different path that will be a better fit.
While these are very difficult conversations, they come out of my deep desire to help find something that will ultimately bring them career success and satisfaction.
What most attracted you to pharmacy over other health care professions?
From a young age, I knew that I wanted to do a job that I loved and also have the ability to be a mom. A job with enough flexibility to balance my job with with my other life aspirations was very attractive. This is why pharmacy was so appealing to me.
What advice would you give to a student entering pharmacy school?
First, I would tell pharmacy students to take advantage of any available opportunities to shadow several different types of pharmacists. These shadowing experiences offer invaluable chances for students to see how many different kinds of pharmacy jobs are out there and to start thinking about what path they might want to take. I encourage my students to keep searching until they find the area of pharmacy they love because, once they find it, they will be very motivated to put in the work it takes to get their pharmacy degree.
It’s also very important for incoming pharmacy students to remember that pharmacy school is a doctorate program. Pursuing a pharmacy degree requires students to study hard. Making time to study often means students have to sacrifice some of their social time. A social life is important because it’s a big aspect of self-care, but pharmacy students have to find a solid balance between social time and study time. Often, this balance is obtained when students are able to surround themselves with friends who understand and support their goals, and will hold them accountable for their actions.
Finally—and I can’t stress this enough—don’t hesitate to ask for help when help is needed. If what you’re doing isn’t working, reach out for assistance so you can learn how to do it differently. The pharmacy school curriculum is challenging, and all students will need help at one time or another. Being open to receiving help is key to finding success and performing well in pharmacy school.
What do you wish someone told you in high school or college as it pertains to your career?
Pharmacy school is hard work, but it’s worth it. If you’re open to exploring the opportunities within the pharmacy field that excite you, it can take you to really exciting places.
What do you believe is the biggest misconception about the field of pharmacy?
I think the biggest misconception is that pharmacists just put pills in bottles. Most people don’t understand the breadth and depth of things you can do with a pharmacy degree. They see just a few pharmacy career options, like community or hospital pharmacy, but there are so many more career paths available through pharmacy.
Amy Tiemeier, PharmD, BCPS is doing amazing things each day in her unique version of a pharmacy career! If you’re interested in learning more about careers like Dr. Tiemeier’s in academic pharmacy or the many other career options available in the industry, visit our Career Paths page.