For James Langley, the future of pharmacy lies in community service. A former US Marine, the 2015 PharmD candidate of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) School of Pharmacy is passionate about using pharmacy to meet the needs of others.
“I was deployed overseas for military duty and saw first-hand the lifesaving ability of drugs,” Langley said in an interview with Pharmacy Times. “I knew then that I wanted to become a pharmacist and help others.”
Since beginning pharmacy school, Langley has distinguished himself as a leader, advocating the importance of volunteer work among his peers. As the class president, he helped to develop the Hospice Volunteer Initiative, a student-led project to recruit and train college students as certified hospice volunteers and to match them with regional, nonprofit hospice organizations. To date, the initiative has recruited more than 600 students campuswide and has provided training to nearly 300 of them.
The project has also worked with computer science students to develop a hospice volunteer scheduling mobile app, which is available for download on iTunes at no cost to volunteers and hospice organizations. Langley’s dedication to the project helped it to be named the SIUE 2013 Community Service Project of the Year. The project has also helped to advance the profession and create opportunities for pharmacy. The Hospice of Southern Illinois, the lead hospice organization of the initiative, has now developed a rotation for pharmacy students, and has included pharmacy services within its strategic planning.
“My experience with the Hospice Volunteer Initiative has been life changing,” said Langley. “To promote hospice education and help those and their families at their greatest time of need is very humbling.”
In addition to his efforts on campus, Langley has worked to serve patients in need overseas. During the summer of 2013, he served on a medical mission trip to Jamaica.
“Despite the crippling heat, poor work condition, and inherent disorganization, James displayed a can-do attitude unlike any I have ever seen,” wrote one of his nominators, J. Christopher Lynch, PharmD, BCACP, who was the director of pharmacy on the trip.
This past summer, Langley served again on this medical mission trip to Jamaica.
Q: What has been your most rewarding extracurricular activity, and why?A: The Jamaica Dental Mission is my most rewarding extracurricular activity. This is a trip to small villages in the most underprivileged parts of Jamaica. It is an interprofessional trip between the SIUE School of Pharmacy and SIUE School of Dental Medicine. During this trip, we work together to access and promote oral as well as overall general health to the local communities. Each year, life-altering interventions are made by the students with the oversight of Dr. James Lynch and Dr. Jennifer Rosselli.
The most important thing we learn on the trip is communication: how to speak to patients when you don’t speak the same language and their medical knowledge is limited. You develop a way to communicate with each person individually and to help them learn what is important to their health. I returned this year for my second trip, and it was amazing to see the patients and community remember me by name, and to see how much they have progressed and improved their quality of life based on recommendations or interventions we had provided just a year prior.
Q: What do you think is the most important issue in pharmacy today? Why?A: The most important issue in pharmacy is unity. Pharmacy is an ever-changing field and is currently on the cusp of acquiring increased responsibilities and functions. However, if pharmacists are not on the same page and united to move forward with these tasks, not only as individuals but as a network of teammates, these tasks will become even more daunting and lengthy.
Q: Has a specific patient or colleague taught you something that will help you be a better pharmacist?A: The faculty and staff at SIUE School of Pharmacy have taught me so much about being an exceptional pharmacist, and I am extremely proud to be a member of their professional program.
About the School
The Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE) School of Pharmacy offers a traditional PharmD degree, a PharmD/MBA program, and an education specialization within the PharmD program. The school collaborates with rural and urban health care institutions to meet the health care needs of central and southern Illinois and the St. Louis metropolitan area. Graduates of the school have a 100% job placement rate.
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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 www.PharmacyTimes.com.