Inspired by Pharmacy's Impact

Jennifer Barrio, Managing Editor
Published Online: Friday, January 13, 2012

Renee Advincula is motivated by the impact she has on patients' lives and health.


The first Pharmacy Times/ Walmart RESPy winner of 2012, Renee Advincula, dazzled our prestigious panel of judges with her emphasis on patient care and her dedication to advancing the profession of pharmacy. A 2013 PharmD candidate at Mid– western University Chicago College of Pharmacy, Advincula is involved in a wide variety of extracurricular activities that serve patients as well as the Chicago community. She has worked with Kappa Psi to raise money for prostate cancer awareness, volunteered with the Chicago Women’s AIDS Project and the Illinois Caucus on Adolescent Health, and organized a health fair for 120 students at Young Women’s Leadership Charter School in Chicago. 

Advincula has also worked extensively in the health-system setting, having volunteered both at the Rush University Medical Center for 3 years and in the pediatrics department of the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center. After graduation, she plans to complete a PGY-1 program in a hospital and a PGY-2 residency focusing on infectious disease.

Advincula’s efforts with the Collaborative Health Advocate Team (CHAT) and her creation of the Medication Adherence Program—2 projects run through Midwestern’s chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhAASP)—stand out as her most inspired and inspiring work. Pharmacy Times asked Advincula about her experience with these programs, and her answers reflect a passion for the field and a concern for patients that is truly deserving of recognition.

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

A I was given the opportunity to teach at a Spanish-speaking diabetes class through CHAT, which provides monthly diabetes education to newly diagnosed diabetics in underserved populations in the Chicagoland area.

During our first meeting, I met a woman who was waiting patiently with her 2 young children. She spoke minimal English, so I approached her and began to speak in Spanish. She was newly diagnosed with diabetes and a first timer at the clinic. During this first meeting, she realized her life was about to change. I explained that while change can promote fear, it also provides the opportunity to transform a person’s perspective so they no longer feel victimized by their circumstance.

As the months passed, I noted an alteration in her outlook. She was determined to lose weight, modify the eating habits of her family, and maintain a positive direction. Together, we properly maximized the use of her glucose test strips through testing on certain days and times during the week. Her glucose readings went from a baseline of over 200 mg/dL in the mornings to under 100 mg/dL in only 3 months after embracing lifestyle modifications. After 4 months, she lost 15 lb and decreased her dose of metformin.

The extremely timid woman who I first met was now a completely different person. She sat me down and revolutionized my perspective of the impact pharmacists have in our community. She said, “Your group has made me feel comfortable coming to our sessions because I do not feel judged. I come every single month with my children and commute 50 minutes on the bus just to be uplifted. When I come to these sessions, I feel free. I feel free from the burden that my diabetes caused me in the beginning and know that I can change and live a long life for family and kids. I have you all to thank for that.”

I had an epiphany about why I am entering into this profession. It is not because I want to wear the amazing white coat, have a PharmD after my name, or earn a decent salary in the future. It is because of patients like this woman who change themselves for the better.

Q What is your most rewarding extracurricular activity?

A The Medication Adherence Program is a relatively new program geared towards serving the underserved population of the Chicagoland area. The goal is to bridge the relationship between consumers and pharmacists so that we can help minimize medicinal errors while improving patient satisfaction. Student pharmacists give a 2-part medication adherence presentation, followed by a 1-on-1 student pharmacist/patient counseling session.

The process of creating and implementing the Medication Adherence Program helped teach me the value of time management and how to work collaboratively with student pharmacists, mentors, and other health care professionals. To see my idea evolve into a project in which student pharmacists are able to hone and utilize skills taught in the classroom and apply them to direct patient care is invaluable. When both students and come out of the session better than they entered, I know that I have done my job. 


About RESPy

The RESPy (Respect, Excellence, and Service in Pharmacy) Award is presented to the student who has made adifference in hisor her community by demonstrating excellence in pharmaceutical care. 


About the School

Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy PharmD program provides students with enhanced experiences in the biomedical, pharmaceutical, and clinical sciences. The Chicago College of Pharmacy offers both a full-time, traditional PharmD program that is completed in 6 years. 



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