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Pursuing a Career in Pharmacy: Empowering LGBTQIA+ Students through Advocacy and Diversity

Join us as we explore the inspiring journey of Cayden Miller, a passionate pharmacy graduate from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville School of Pharmacy. Cayden’s experience as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community has shaped his path in pharmacy, driving him to become an advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the profession. Here we will delve into Cayden’s story, highlighting his personal experiences and offering guidance for LGBTQIA+ students considering a career in pharmacy. Discover how embracing one’s identity can enhance patient care and create a positive impact within the pharmacy field. To explore more about pursuing a career in pharmacy, you can visit the website PharmacyForMe.org.

Embracing a Challenging Career

Firstly, Cayden’s decision to pursue a career in pharmacy stemmed from his desire for personal growth and lifelong learning. “I initially chose a career that I knew would challenge me and within which I could continue to grow and learn as part of the profession,” Cayden explains. “My reasons have shifted more towards a focus on the opportunities in Academia as well as DEI initiatives within the field, but life-long learning will always remain a priority. The universal rationale of being able to be actively involved in patient care certainly applies to my own experience as well!”

Active Involvement as LGBTQIA+ Pharmacy Student

Also, Cayden’s active involvement within the school of pharmacy demonstrates his commitment to making a difference. He has held leadership roles in the student chapter of the American Pharmacists Association. He also actively participated in the LGBTQIA+ Student Affinity Group. Additionally, Cayden’s engagement extends to serving as a student representative on committees and advisory boards, mentoring peers, and contributing to the ASSET Ambassador Program.

Identity and Academic Development

Cayden reflects on how his identity as a gay, cisgender student pharmacist has influenced his academic career. “As a gay, cisgender student pharmacist beginning my academic journey, I was incredibly lucky to find myself in an environment with limited barriers around my identity,” Cayden shares. “It wasn’t until 2021 when the coinciding events of beginning my Education/Academia specialization as well as joining the initial cohort for SIUE’s LGBTQIA+ Student Affinity group that I began developing as an advocate within this space. This had everything to do with shaping my academic career, in that it has blossomed into a passion for DEI initiatives, has informed the research I have begun, and has been an avenue for networking with individuals pursuing similar work.”

Cayden encourages students to explore integrating their own identities into their learning. He also suggests students advocate for underrepresented voices within the pharmacy field. “You may find that there are needed voices missing from the conversation—the root of advocacy is to work to elevate those voices where possible and to be informed and speak on their behalf where it is not possible,” he advises.

The Power of Mentorship

Throughout his academic journey, Cayden has benefited from the invaluable guidance of mentors. Faculty members like Dr. Jason Stacy, Dr. Kelly Gable, Dr. Kate Newman, and Dr. Stephanie Hunziker have played pivotal roles in shaping Cayden’s personal and professional growth. “I can not underscore enough the value that mentorship can provide throughout your academic career,” Cayden emphasizes.

Advice for Prospective Pharmacy Students

Cayden offers valuable advice to aspiring pharmacy students. “In addition to seeking out mentorship, seize opportunities. Where possible, find an area you are passionate about and lead within it,” he advises. Cayden also emphasizes the importance of character, empathy, and networking in the field of pharmacy. “Oftentimes, character and empathy will bring far greater reward than intelligence; do not underestimate their value,” he adds.

Empowering LGBTQIA+ Students in Pharmacy

Cayden provides insightful guidance specifically tailored to LGBTQIA+ students interested in pursuing a career in pharmacy. “Your identity is your own, and do not feel pressured to incorporate it into your professional identity if you aren’t ready for that right now,” Cayden affirms. He encourages LGBTQIA+ students to uplift the voices of the unheard, pioneer new paths, and embrace the humanistic nature of pharmacy. “You may have a perspective that simply isn’t being seen. The deeper you look into medicine, the less black and white many aspects appear. The value of the individual who embraces change and breaks down barriers is unquestionable,” he explains. Cayden emphasizes that LGBTQIA+ students have unique perspectives to offer, contributing to a more inclusive and compassionate pharmacy profession.

Cayden Miller’s journey in pharmacy school serves as an empowering example for LGBTQIA+ students considering a career in pharmacy. Through his commitment to patient care, advocacy for DEI initiatives, and personal growth, Cayden has become a role model within the profession. Additionally, by embracing his identity and actively engaging in his academic community, Cayden showcases the transformative power of authenticity and the positive impact it can have on patient care.

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