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Why I Chose Pharmacy: Patrick Kyei-Baffour’s Story of Perseverance

Patrick Kyei-Baffour is a fourth-year Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) Student at Manchester University. Coming to the US from Ghana, Patrick decided to become a pharmacist after seeing his village’s version of a pharmacist helping his community. Pharmacy allows him to bring people joy by making them feel better and to continually challenge himself in his studies.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in pharmacy?

Two things:

  1. When I was in Ghana, my mother-in-law visited us because she was sick and needed medical attention. We took her to the KNUST hospital for medication and were sent home that night. The next morning, her face was extremely swollen and she could not get up. We rushed her back to the hospital to see the doctor with the medications she had received. The doctor looked at her folder and exclaimed, “No, l did not prescribe this medication.” This got me thinking about medications and how damaging they can be without the proper knowledge. I decided to learn more about drugs if I got the opportunity.
  2. In my village back in Ghana, a man called Mr. Owusu had a chemical shop and sold medicine. He was much loved and appreciated by all the villagers because he could help you with any illness you had. He would give some people treatment on credit if they did not have money, and most importantly, he would wake up and walk about a mile to his shop if you knocked on his door after operating hours to help you. I simply wanted to be that good man who was seen as a little God in my village because he made people feel better again. I later learned that Mr. Owusu did not even have a high school education, yet he served his people well.

What about your path to pharmacy school is unique?

I came to the US from Ghana to seek a better life and help my family. I had a wife, two children, and parents to take care of back in Ghana. I decided to go to pharmacy school while working full time and completing my prerequisites. When l was admitted and preparing to attend, my sweet mother passed away a few weeks before school. I abandoned the school and left for Ghana for her burial. Two years later, I applied here again for early decision. My father passed away, and his funeral was set for the day of my interview. I called the school, and they rescheduled me for the 1st batch of regular interviews. I was admitted the second time, and a few months before class began, my wife and older daughter’s visas were denied. However, my youngest 8-year-old daughter’s visa was approved. It was a difficult time because if her visa expired, I would have to restart the entire process and pay the fees once more.

I called one of my aunties in New Jersey and explained my predicament. She happily agreed to take care of my youngest until my wife arrived. My 8-year-old daughter traveled from Accra, Ghana, to New York’s JFK airport alone with the help of an air hostess. My daughter had never met my aunt but had to live with her to enable me to start classes.

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

I was working overnight at Walgreens at the time. The overnight pharmacist was not busy, so he would always chat with me while working. One day he said, “Patrick, you sound intelligent. Why do you not go to school and stop this job?” I responded that it was a matter of time because I had just arrived in the country and lived with a family friend. He became my friend and always encouraged me. When I applied for PharmCAS, he was the one who endorsed all my documents.

What is your favorite part of pharmacy school?

My favorite part of pharmacy school is IPT (Integrated Pharmacotherapy) courses.

What do you find most challenging about pharmacy school?

The most challenging part was when my family joined me. Managing time with family and school was very difficult. Their presence forced me to work full-time from my P2 second semester until last July.

What advice would you give to students interested in attending pharmacy school?

Pharmacy is a lifelong learning experience that helps you keep your mind sharp. It is an opportunity to serve humanity and bring joy to patients and their families. It is a respectable profession that has worldwide job security.

Want to read more student pharmacist stories?

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

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