RESPy Winner Combines the Roles of Pharmacist and Teacher

NOVEMBER 22, 2010
Jennifer Barrio, Managing Editor
Anusha Raju is inspired by the independent pharmacists in her life to provide excellent patient care.

RESPy Winner Combines the Roles of Pharmacist and Teacher

Anusha Raju, a 2011 PharmD candidate at Northeastern University Bouvé College of Health Sciences School of Pharmacy, has been inspired by her interactions with independent pharmacists.

Raju’s father is an independent pharmacy owner, and she grew up watching him personally care for a patient population who did not speak English. Although direct communication was difficult, she remembers that “he knew almost every patient by name and their needs, and they were loyal customers in return.” This early experience was reinforced by Raju’s recent work in an independent pharmacy through her school’s co-op program, where patient care was also the primary focus.

Winners of the Pharmacy Times/ Walmart RESPy award must demonstrate voluntary public service activities, a high level of professional/public healthrelated activity outside the classroom, and a high level of effort to advance the profession of pharmacy in the public arena. Raju participates in many activities that exemplify these criteria, but none demonstrate all 3 as well as her Global Service Corps trip to Tanzania.

Raju spent 4 months in Tanzania learning how pharmacy and medicine are practiced in a third-world country. She educated the local population, including schoolchildren, on HIV prevention and nutrition and taught medical employees about telemedicine. The experience showed Raju how pharmacists can have an impact on public health, and reinforced her desire to make a difference in her own community.

Raju might be forward-thinking when it comes to patient care, but she admits that she is not very tech-saavy. Pharmacy Times asked the November RESPy winner about her roots in pharmacy and what she thinks the future holds for her.

Q Was there a moment in pharmacy school when you knew pharmacy was right for you?

A I have been working at a small independent pharmacy that does a lot of generic dispensing and mail orders for compounded prescriptions. In this setting, the owner has been my true inspiration. He would spend hours talking to patients, whether it was about their medication or the Red Sox. That’s when I realized that I could be a care provider and also have a patient-centered relationship. Observing his practice made me realize that pharmacy was right for me.

Q What has been your most rewarding extracurricular activity?

A Out of all of my extracurricular activities, the most rewarding was volunteering at the Boston Museum of Science, because that was where I first discovered my love for teaching. I was able to teach visitors about how different organs worked, encourage discussions about evolution, and research new exhibits.

Q What are your long-term professional goals?

A I plan on doing a residency that will ultimately put me in a position to be a faculty member in a pharmacy school. I would like to be a full-time faculty member with a clinic site in the ambulatory care setting, to teach and inspire future pharmacists.

Q What do you think about technology in the pharmacy?

A I am an old-fashioned student and educator. The extent of technology I use is Microsoft PowerPoint, and occasionally Adobe Photoshop if I’m preparing a pamphlet for a student group. I think technology can go far in pharmacy, such as its use in medication reconciliation, catching medication errors, and patient reminders. However, technology should not be a replacement for human interaction.

Q What do you think is the most important issue in the field of pharmacy today?

A I feel the biggest barrier pharmacists face today is the limited direct patient care, whether it’s because patients are not interested in speaking to pharmacists or because the setting simply doesn’t allow it. Patient-centered care is becoming more and more of a norm, but it isn’t where it needs to be. The day everyone in the United States personally knows their pharmacist is the day pharmacy will become what it can be. PT

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