Seizing Opportunities to Become a Better Pharmacist

Aimee Simone, Assistant Editor
Published Online: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
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Andrew Gonzales has also learned valuable lessons outside the classroom.
During his time spent studying pharmacy, Andrew Gonzales believes that he has also learned valuable lessons outside of the classroom.

“The most important thing that I’ve learned through the years is to get involved. It is so much more enjoyable to be doing something if you own a piece of it, and it really motivates you to do more to advance the profession,” he said.

Gonzales—a 2014 PharmD candidate at Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences—has learned the importance of taking advantage of extracurricular activities through his experiences with the Butler University Community Outreach Pharmacy (BUCOP), a multidisciplinary, student-run free clinic serving patients on the east side of Indianapolis. He first became involved with BUCOP to fill his required volunteer hours, but after his day volunteering at the clinic, he knew he wanted to dedicate more time to the organization.

“It was a place where I could really establish my counseling skills and therapeutic knowledge, help improve the lives of others, and eventually develop leadership skills,” he said.

After spending more time in the clinic than any other previous student during the summer before his P2 year, Gonzales was selected as the chair of the clinic. In this role, he helped to facilitate the opening of a second clinic, located on the west side of Indianapolis.

In addition to his work with BUCOP, Gonzales was selected to serve as a student liaison for the Indiana Academy of Community Pharmacists in 2011. He is also actively involved with the pharmacy fraternity Phi Delta Chi, helping to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and to organize social events to bring students closer together.

Q: Why did you decide to become a pharmacist?

A: I don't really have an exciting story as to why I decided to become a pharmacist. I won’t be a legacy pharmacist, and I don’t have any close family friends who are pharmacists. However, I knew I wanted to make a difference in people’s health, and then the right pieces just seemed to fall into place right before college. I’ve liked it thus far, and I’m excited about what’s in store when I’m practicing next year.

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

A: Proper medication usage, in my opinion, is the most important issue in pharmacy today. This can be looked at from 2 angles—medication adherence and prescription drug abuse. Both are huge issues that are commonly overlooked but really do affect our society as a whole.

I’m working with a few other students on a PharmD project to get an organization firmly planted at Butler University that addresses the prescription drug abuse issue. This organization, called Generation Rx, will provide programming for the Butler community and surrounding areas, giving facts and warning of the dangers of taking medication that is intended for a different user or is used for a purpose other than how it was prescribed. To help understand this problem, consider this fact from Generation Rx of The Ohio State College of Pharmacy: emergency department visits relating to prescription drug abuse now exceed those relating to illicit “street” drugs. This is a problem that is growing at an alarming rate, as many people wrongly believe that abusing prescription medications is a safe alternative to illicit street drugs.

Q: Can you discuss your experience with establishing a second clinic with BUCOP?

A: About halfway into my term serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for BUCOP , we were approached by Indiana University Health (IU Health), a top 1% nationally ranked hospital system. Representatives from IU Health recognized the success of BUCOP’s clinic model and asked us to assist them in planning, launching, and running a similar clinic. The board was honored to have this requested of us, and we began right away by attending meetings and, just a few months later, launching the clinic, called the Indiana University Health Neighborhood Care Center (IUHNCC).

I was the point person for pharmacy in the planning process, and I oversaw the expansion of the BUCOP Board to accommodate this increase in responsibility of all the BUCOP student leaders. It was a very rewarding experience, and I plan to continue volunteering at both our original BUCOP clinic and the new IUHNCC location in the years to come.

About the School
Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (COPHS), located in Indianapolis, Indiana, was founded in 1904 and renamed the Indianapolis College of Pharmacy (ICP) in 1914. In 1945, ICP and Butler University merged. Today, Butler’s COPHS offers the Doctor of Pharmacy, Master of Physician Assistant Studies, and Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Studies degrees.


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