A Purpose-driven Approach to Pharmacy

Author: Susan Farley

After completing a bachelor?s degree in chemical engineering and working as an engineer for 4 years, Lamya Wardak felt unfulfilled. She wanted to help people directly. So she did a little research and decided to pursue a career in pharmacy. She enrolled at the University of Kansas (KU) School of Pharmacy.

?From an early age, my parents said the greatest thing I could do in life was to help other people. As a pharmacist, I see so many different ways to help people,? she said.

That outlook on life and the drive to accomplish her goals are 2 of the reasons Wardak is this month?s recipient of the Pharmacy Times/Wal-Mart?sponsored RESPy Award.The RESPy Award honors pharmacy students whose volunteerism, extracurricular professional activities, and dedication to advancing pharmacy are a credit to their profession and their community.

KU?s interim chair of the Pharmacy Practice Department, Dennis Grauer, PhD, nominated Wardak for the award. He is sure of her current and future success in the profession. He notes her ?unique and well-developed skill of recognizing community needs. What is even better, she does something to help meet that need.?

In fact, while earning her PharmD, Wardak participated in various extracurricular activities. She served as a leader in student government (she was elected class president for all 3 years of pharmacy school), as well as providing pharmacy services to the community through brown-bag sessions. Effective time management helped her fit in these activities along with her studies. One achievement was raising more than $5000 for the Red Cross within days of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

Currently, Wardak has 9 rotations to complete (she is on her third one) before graduating in May 2008. Future plans for Wardak remain uncertain.

?My goal is to utilize the knowledge I gained in pharmacy school to help others,? she explained. ?Whether that?s in a clinical setting or a retail setting, I haven?t completely decided yet. I know that in either setting, I can fulfill my goals.? Wardak is waiting until she completes her clinical rotation to decide on her specialty.

For now, it seems that working with the elderly has been closest to her heart. Although she credits her pharmacotherapy class with providing the most practical knowledge, it was in her third or fourth year of pharmacy school that her professors started talking about the needs of the elderly. Besides being the fastest-growing segment of the population, the elderly take the most medications and therefore need the most help in understanding their meds and side effects.

This aspect immediately appealed to Wardak. ?I love working with the geriatric population. When you take the time to help, they really appreciate it. I have so much respect for people who are older than me,? she said.

Besides the ability to make a direct impact on people in need, Wardak lists the opportunity to move around as another benefit of the pharmacy profession. ?The fact that there is so much mobility is one of the things I like so much. Maybe I?ll do a residency back east. In the long run, I?d like to travel and volunteer and go into communities to help others, maybe devote my time to third-world countries, educating people on disease states.?

When asked for advice for pharmacy students who are just starting out, Wardak said, ?It is important to have good time-management skills and focus on your studies. And don?t forget you?ll be helping patients one day. I would also say get involved in clubs and with the community while you?re in school.?