Providing Care Through Education

Pharmacy Times, December 2015 Heart Health, Volume 81, Issue 12

For Rebecca Mousseau, a pharmacy student at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy, pharmacists are not only health care providers; they are also educators and leaders.

For Rebecca Mousseau, a pharmacy student at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Pharmacy, pharmacists are not only health care providers; they are also educators and leaders. Since entering pharmacy school, the 2016 PharmD candidate has devoted much of her time to her involvement in the UIC chapter of Kappa Psi, serving on the pharmaceutical fraternity’s local and regional executive boards. According to Mousseau, her experience with the student organization helped her to better understand leadership and enabled her to grow as a leader.

“I have learned that leaders are not merely elected officers, but those that choose to lead by example,” Mousseau told Pharmacy Times in an exclusive interview. “While I genuinely appreciate the opportunities that serving on the local and regional executive board of Kappa Psi has given me, I am most proud of the moments when I have stepped forth as a leader without being elected into a specific role.”

Among many other efforts, Mousseau formed a philanthropy committee within the fraternity chapter through which she helped to organize activities such as a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K and a letter-writing campaign for the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes initiative.

“With the chapter philanthropy committee, we formed an ongoing relationship with Ronald McDonald House charities by preparing and serving meals for the families staying at the house, as well as planning and implementing family activity nights,” she explained. “We also visited a local elementary school and volunteered at a homeless shelter multiple times throughout the year.”

Reflecting on her experiences and contemplating her future, Mousseau recalled the words of one of her teachers and mentors, Nicholas Popovich, PhD, who told her that regardless of where her career in pharmacy takes her, she will always be an educator.

“My best asset and my true passion lies with educating patients so they can actively manage their conditions and improve their quality of life for themselves,” Mousseau said.

Q: Why did you decide to become a pharmacist?A: I have always been passionate about helping people through education. I was a high school teacher for a short period of time and a tutor for many years, and I enjoy breaking down difficult-tounderstand concepts for individualized comprehension by students and patients. Everyone understands concepts differently, so it is important to tailor your teaching style to meet the needs of the individual. Pharmacists serve as educators for their patients and must identify the learning styles and health literacy levels of their patients to effectively counsel them about their medications.

Q: What do you think is the most important issue in pharmacy today? Why?A: The most important issue in the field of pharmacy today is providing the necessary access to medical care for all patients. I enjoy working in the community setting because we are so accessible to patients. We are expanding our roles within the community setting by providing vaccinations and point-ofcare testing. It is important to encourage pharmacists in all settings to focus on patient education. Often, reimbursement is linked to dispensing services, which are important, but we need to be given the forum to educate patients about the importance of taking their medications. To improve patient access to quality health care, it is necessary to support pharmacists by providing quality health care education as well as dispensing services.

Q: What do you think is the most important quality for a pharmacist to possess?A: A pharmacist must possess compassion for patients and a willingness to spend the time to fully understand how to best help them. We must always remember the reason we decided to enter pharmacy: to help patients. With all the daily tasks that must be completed, pharmacists can lose sight of what is most important—patients. We must find new ways to help improve our patients’ quality of life. For example, we can provide health care screenings and immunization clinics to improve patient access to these services. We can also deliver medications to patients who cannot come to the pharmacy due to mobility issues and provide adherence outreach phone calls to help patients manage their therapy.

About the School

The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy offers a traditional PharmD program, as well as several joint degree programs that allow students to also pursue an MBA, an MS-CTS, an MSHI, or a PhD. Students and postgraduate pharmacists can also apply to one of the school’s residency and fellowship programs that provide participants with clinical and research experience.

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