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Why I Chose Pharmacy: Alice Jeong’s Journey to Finding a Meaningful Career

Alice Jeong, Pharmacy Student

Meet Alice Jeong, a third-year student at West Coast University. After undergoing a journey of self-discovery, Alice sought a meaningful career that aligned with her skills and passions. Enter: pharmacy. Follow Alice’s journey and learn more about her pathway to becoming a Pharmacist.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in pharmacy?

Ever since I could remember, I’ve sought out purpose in “success.” Though I did not know exactly what success looked like, I always thought that it would be defined by my career. With this mentality, I focused on steadily gaining professional experience in hopes of establishing a successful career. However, as the years passed by, I began to realize that work did not bring me any personal gratification. As I struggled to find fulfillment in seemingly meaningless jobs, I decided to embark on a new quest: to discover who I am and what my passions are. Once I shifted my focus, I began to see myself in a completely different light. I realized that, above all else, I have always been the most passionate about people. Even in seemingly minute ways, I would remember the smallest, most often overlooked details regarding my loved ones and surprise them by following up with genuine care and concern. I learned that while I love providing emotional support, practical help is of equal importance to me. Providing comfort for a sick friend with mere company would never suffice; I would always come prepared with soup and medicine in hand. It was through this introspective journey that I realized that my purpose isn’t found in success, nor is it even found in a career; it is found in who I am. My career was always meant to simply supplement the purpose already instilled within me. Thus, it was with this newfound conviction that I have chosen pharmacy as a career: with my purpose to serve others and my passion to do so by means of medicine.

What did your pathway to pharmacy school look like?

A couple years ago, I experienced an encounter where a mother frantically walked into the pharmacy to pick up her son’s prescriptions. Unable to speak English fluently, she nervously asked for the total cost. I later glanced to see both her hands tensely gripping onto the money. She did not have health insurance, the prescriptions were costly, and it was apparent that she could not bear the expenses. After consulting with the pharmacist, we were able to provide her with coupons and cheaper alternative medications, as well as recommend some cost-saving over-the-counter options. Struggling to hold back her tears, she embraced me with a hug where words would not be enough to express the gratitude. 

I believe that cultivating an environment such as this, with compassion, innovation, and diversity, is essential. I choose to be a pharmacist because I strive to be the voice for these patients and help them understand and make sense of their healthcare needs. I want to be able to provide valuable information so that each and every patient is able to make informed decisions when faced with healthcare challenges. On average, patients visit their pharmacy thirty-five times each year. When comparing this number to the approximately four visits per year to providers, it is evident that pharmacists are key players in the healthcare system. As one of the most accessible and trusted healthcare providers, pharmacists are best positioned to provide intentional, detail-oriented care and counsel for their patients. With this in mind, I not only desire to have the knowledge and resources to guide patients but also possess a spectrum of kindness, empathy, and thoughtful devotion that extends far beyond the counter. By being attentive and building a strong rapport with my patients, I aspire to be a pharmacist who readily provides counsel, encourages proper medication adherence, and ultimately improves people’s well-being.

How did you choose your school of pharmacy?

I knew the moment I finished my interview that this is the school where my growth will be nurtured. West Coast University provided an exceptional opportunity to expand my knowledge, skills, and experience to meet both my current and future healthcare goals. The mission and the vision of this school aligned with my values, and I believed that I would advance my profession of pharmacy at this school. I plan to utilize all that I have learned through my personal, educational, and professional background to achieve my goals and bring innovation and value to the field.

Did you have any mentors that helped you as you explored possible career paths?

I sought out advice from my pharmacist a lot as I shared my plans to apply for pharmacy school. She encouraged me to explore my surroundings, but we both knew deep inside that my only calling was to be a pharmacist! Working in a pharmacy has shown me the importance of teamwork and has helped strengthen my interpersonal, analytical, communication, and leadership skills. One of the many skills I have put into practice over time is my attentiveness to details, such as subtle behavioral cues and body language. I’ve learned that a slight tension of eye contact can translate to a significant misunderstanding, but it can also prompt an adept pharmacist to calmly identify and resolve any confusion. I hope to continue to implement the skills I have acquired to aid my future patients.

What’s your favorite part of pharmacy school?

For most of my life, I have never pursued my interests or executed my ideas because of my crippling need to be perfect in it all. Being a part of a APhA/CPhA-ASP has been one of my favorite parts of school, but I realized that with this mentality, I could never progress or develop. My perfectionism created this persistent need to be the best without the possibility of failing. I continually doubted my skills as I felt that I needed to be better before I even began. At the end of my first year, I challenged myself and ran for APhA/CPhA-ASP’s president. And to my surprise, I was appointed to the position. This opportunity has allowed me to learn and use my knowledge and skills to unveil my talents, and it has been such a journey thus far. I have learned to see all my efforts, especially failures, as opportunities to grow and develop. I realized that self-growth and development are about doing my best and striving persistently. Personal growth is a lifelong process, but now I have a new voice that challenges my perfectionist voice, and gradually my perfectionist voice becomes quieter. And through it all, I’ve actualized that change does not happen if you remain stagnant. Self-growth and development come from active leaps of faith.

What do you find most challenging about pharmacy school?

What I found to be the most challenging and rewarding, is how it taught me to be more disciplined in all aspects of my life. During my first year of pharmacy school, I was living day to day in chaos. My mind was always in a constant rush; I told myself that as a pharmacy student, it is normal to feel constantly busy and behind with everything. Over time, I developed the habit of multi-tasking. I would listen to one lecture while taking notes from another. With the mentality of killing two birds with one stone, I convinced myself that I was saving time. But because I never devoted my full attention to either one of the tasks, I had to revisit them later and ultimately wasted more time. I never seemed to have enough time. 

With this realization, I decided to make a drastic change for myself and challenged myself to start every day at 6:00 AM. Time is free, but it is priceless. We can’t own it, but we can use it. Becoming an early riser has drastically turned my life around. The first couple of weeks had their turbulence, but in time, that initial tiredness was lifted, and I felt revitalized. Slowly and surely, the benefits started to compound. By creating a renewing morning ritual, it not only reflected in my academics but also allowed me to finish my tasks before the day was even over. I realized just how valuable each second was once I became mindful of how I choose to spend my time. Being in control of my time has allowed me to change the way I approach my day entirely. Life and time have been the best two teachers. Life taught me to make good use of time, and time taught me the value of life.

Want to read more student pharmacist stories?

I would say take a leap of faith and explore your passion and talents! More now than ever, a Doctor of Pharmacy degree provides an exceptional opportunity to fulfill your ambitions to become the exemplary healthcare provider you aspire to be. With years of knowledge, skills, and experience, I hope you can one day empower patients with practical medication management, driven by sincere and heartfelt care.

Want to read more student pharmacist stories?

Alice’s story about her pathway to pharmacy is fantastic! If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy these student pharmacist stories:

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