Patient-Centered Philosophy Drives RESPy Winner

Jennifer Barrio, Managing Editor
Published Online: Wednesday, June 15, 2011
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Kyle Burcher swapped a career in business finance for the opportunity to make a difference as a pharmacist.


Kyle Burcher, June’s Walmart/Pharmacy Times RESPy winner, was pursuing a degree in business finance until a job as a pharmacy technician changed his life.

Burcher was impressed with how the pharmacists he worked with made a difference in the lives of the elderly patients in their care. “Seeing [them] counsel patients made me realize the impact that a pharmacist can have on tens of thousands of patients throughout his career. Working there opened my eyes to the potential for pharmacists to change lives and led me to change my career,” Burcher says.

Burcher is close to completing his studies at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, from which he will graduate with a PharmD in 2012. Throughout his program, Burcher has stayed true to the principle that brought him to pharmacy in the first place—patient care.

An active member of the University of Georgia chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), Burcher took part in a massive Multicultural Health Fair at the state’s largest flea market. Anticipating the needs of the local Hispanic population, Burcher arranged to have 4 translators from the Spanish Club accompany the 51 pharmacy students. Together, the volunteers provided important health information on more than a dozen topics and offered free screenings for a variety of chronic health conditions. By the end of the fair, more than 350 patients had benefited from the students’ expertise.

When he is not studying or helping patients, Burcher can be found working to improve the field of pharmacy. Before attending the Georgia Pharmacy Association’s Pharmacy Legislative Day last year, Burcher organized a letter writing campaign among his classmates to advocate for pharmacy-friendly legislation. He also participated in the National Association of Chain Drug Stores RxImpact Day in Washington, DC, this year. He and other pharmacy students met with members of Congress to discuss the benefits of the Medication Therapy Management Benefits Act of 2011 for pharmacists and patients.

Although Burcher may have come to the field of pharmacy later than most, his dedication to his patients and the profession is unwavering. Burcher recently talked with Pharmacy Times about his views on immunizations, pharmacy advocacy, and the impact one pharmacist had on his own family.

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

A Each October, in celebration of American Pharmacists Month, the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy and APhA-ASP host a campus-wide health fair known as Dawgtoberfest. During this year’s event, we offered a variety of informational booths and screenings. Student pharmacists immunized 96 faculty, staff, and students in preparation for flu season and screened so many members of the community for diabetes that we ran out of testing supplies. The community response was overwhelming and confirmed that pharmacy was the right career for me.

Q What do you think about the pharmacist’s role in providing immunizations?

A With pharmacists at the forefront of patient care, we have seamlessly transitioned into the role of immunization providers. In this new role, we have the opportunity to help and protect our communities. It also serves as an opportunity to educate our patients about the other valuable services pharmacists are able to provide.

Q Why is it important for pharmacists to be involved in legislation pertaining to pharmacy?

A Advocacy is a critical element to the advancement of our profession. Serving on the Georgia Pharmacy Association Board of Directors and assisting with the student planning for our annual state legislative day granted me many insights into the political process. We, as students, must be advocates for the profession and teach the members of the Senate and House of Representatives about the integral role that pharmacists play in the health care team. One of the biggest ideas we can communicate to our legislators is the benefit that pharmacists can provide by directly improving patient care.

Q Is there a specific person who taught you something that will help you be a better pharmacist?

A My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when I was 6 years old. My grandmother took care of him. I’ll never forget how thankful my grandmother was for the druggist at her pharmacy. The pharmacist answered questions regarding my grandfather’s medications and made sure that my grandmother had the dexterity to open them. As I grew older, I realized that not only my grandmother but every patient at the pharmacy received similar care and treatment, and that I could help people just as my grandmother’s pharmacist had helped her. PT


About RESPy

The RESPy (Respect, Excellence, and Service in Pharmacy) Award is presented to the student who has made a difference in his or her community by demonstrating excellence in pharmaceutical care. For more information, please visit the Students page on www.PharmacyTimes.com.


About the School

The University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, based in Athens, Georgia, was founded in 1903. The school offers a 6-year PharmD program that combines classroom, laboratory, and experiential training. Graduate studies at the college are offered in the areas of pharmacotherapeutic research, clinical work, and administration. 



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