There are so many different types of careers within the field of pharmacy—from research and drug development to pharmacy informatics! To highlight some of the more unique career settings in the industry, we’re introducing a new page on our website—Novel Pharmacy Practice Settings—where you can explore these unique career pathways.
In addition to learning more about unique pathways on our new webpage, we’ll also be featuring pharmacists who work in these unique settings on our blog! Today we’re excited to spotlight Leslie Asanga, PharmD, MBA, MPH!
Dr. Asanga is the Founder and CEO of Pills2Me, Inc., founded during the COVID-19 pandemic. The following is a look into how Leslie founded his company and how his pharmacy, business, and public health background has helped his success.
From what institution did you earn your professional pharmacy degree (e.g., Pharm.D.)?
Please describe your novel practice setting. What makes your career path unique?
I am the founder and CEO of Pills2Me—a platform aimed to give easy access to pharmacy services starting with on-demand prescription delivery. In an age where people can sit on their couch and have a pizza or burger delivered to them, there’s no reason why they cannot have their medications delivered as well.
What led you to this career path? What steps did you take?
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, while I was a student at the Yale School of Public Health, I noticed an increase in prescription abandonment, as well as an increase in elderly people coming into busy pharmacies and putting themselves at risk to pick up their prescriptions. In an effort to help this vulnerable population maintain social distancing practices while still having access to essential medications, Pills2Me was born.
I recruited my classmate and other Yale students to help with the project. We started by recruiting volunteers to help with deliveries to these vulnerable populations and have since evolved to include everyone due to popular demand.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I work closely with all departments of the company to ensure smooth operations. This includes:
- Daily meetings with our chief technology officer to ensure the technology we’re building is addressing all patient pain points
Regular meetings with strategic stakeholders to create partnerships that will help to scale the company
Communicating with our director of clinical pharmacy services to continuously identify how we can use our platform to enable pharmacists to practice more efficiently
Overall, I do anything and everything needed to move the company forward. My daily tasks vary depending on the company’s current priorities. There’s never a dull moment at work!
Describe the most exciting or rewarding aspect of your novel practice role.
The most rewarding aspect of my job is combining my pharmacy expertise with my entrepreneurial and public health background to impact thousands of people.
It’s also very exciting that there’s enough interest for us to expand and impact millions of lives and enhance the practice of pharmacy!
Describe the most challenging aspect of your role.
The most challenging aspect of my role was early communications with software engineers. I had very little knowledge of the software development life cycle, so these communications were often difficult. But, over time, I’ve learned a lot and can now clearly communicate with the development team.
How can someone learn more about this unique practice setting and the career opportunities it presents for pharmacists?
Almost every industry has gone virtual, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, pharmacy has been one of the biggest laggards.
To pursue a career similar to mine, I’d suggest pharmacists and pharmacy students learn more about entrepreneurship and how to use technology to solve healthcare problems. They can reach out to me or someone in a similar role and conduct an informational interview to learn more!
What advice would you give to a current student pharmacist who is interested in pursuing a similar type of practice role in the future?
My advice would be to keep an open mind while working in a pharmacy setting and try to identify the pain points patients face in the pharmacy on a daily basis. That is the basis of the ideation process of startups—identifying a pain point and finding a scalable solution to the problem.
What general advice would you give to a high school or college student who is interested in pursuing a pharmacy career?
I believe a PharmD is a very versatile degree. Being a pharmacist enables you to become a medication expert and will then open doors to careers in consulting, industry, entrepreneurship, and more. It’s a great degree no matter where your interests lie!
Share a brief story about a time you had a positive impact on a patient, population, or community in your role as a pharmacist.
Delivering prescriptions to the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the highlight of my career as a pharmacist. I feel confident that the large amount of prescriptions delivered to the elderly via my company played a role in preventing COVID-19 transmission.