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Engaging Students, Creating Partnerships and Improving Public Health

Published on 08 August 2019

Amy Tiemeier is the associate professor of pharmacy practice, director of community partnerships and associate director of experiential education at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. In these roles, she is committed to engaging her students in the community and exposing them to the many possible applications of pharmacy.

Q: Why pharmacy?

A: As a high school student, I liked the field of medicine, and I wanted to help people. I also wanted a career with enough flexibility for me to be a mom and have a family.

My mom was a nurse, and my dad worked in sales and information technology, so I grew up with a solid perspective on what it was like to work in medicine and how to best serve clients. We also had a family friend who was a pharmacist, and I had spoken with him about his work. During my senior year of high school, my dad was working at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and I had the opportunity to shadow the outpatient pharmacists there. I loved everything about that experience, and from that point on, I wanted to pursue pharmacy.

Q: What type of pharmacist are you?

A: I’m an academic pharmacist. I’m a licensed and board-certified pharmacist, but I teach in experiential education. My job is to arrange experiences for pharmacy students to go out into the field and put their learning into practice.

Additionally, I have a role as director of community partnerships at the College. 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 are serving, especially in response to the opioid crisis and implementing solutions to help address it.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve partnered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging and the Missouri Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program and others. I’ve also worked with St. Louis City and County to create initiatives that 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.

Q: What makes your career path unique?

A: My path has been unique because I never intended to become an academic pharmacist. I like patient care, and I originally aspired to be a neonatal intensive care unit pharmacist. I did a residency with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System, which got me interested in geriatrics. Once I finished my residency, I took a position with St. Louis College of Pharmacy that allowed me to practice in a geriatric-based clinic.

At the College, I had opportunities to help with experiential education and realized how much I like facilitating hands-on learning for students. It’s amazing to witness students having these aha moments where they connect what they’ve been learning in the classroom with real life.

Q: Describe the most rewarding and challenging days of your career.

A: My most rewarding days are those when I can connect with my students and help them be more successful. Whether I’m providing them with support or helping them broaden their knowledge or improve their skills, I love knowing that I’ve contributed to their success in a meaningful way.

The most challenging days for me are the ones when, in my role as an advisor, I have to tell a student that pharmacy might not be the right career path for them. This is tough because many students view this conversation as rejection. While these are very difficult conversations to have, they come out of my deep desire to help them find something that will ultimately bring them career success and satisfaction.

Q: What advice would you give to a student entering pharmacy school?

A: First, I would suggest taking advantage of opportunities to shadow several different types of pharmacists. These experiences offer invaluable chances to see how many different types of pharmacy jobs are out there and the career paths they offer. I tell my students to keep searching until you find the area of pharmacy you love because, once you find it, you will be very motivated to put in the work it takes to get your pharmacy degree.

Also, I can’t stress enough the importance of asking for help when help is needed. 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.

St. Louis College of Pharmacy offers a variety of undergraduate and professional degrees that can prepare students for exciting careers in pharmacy and health professions. Visit stlcop.edu/academics to learn more.

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