For RESPy Winner, Pharmacy Fulfills the Heart and Mind

Pharmacy TimesMarch 2010 Central Nervous System
Volume 76
Issue 3

Kristen Zeitler finds the field of pharmacy to be a rewarding balance of academic challenge and helping others.

Kristen Zeitler chose pharmacy as a career because it represents a perfect marriage of a personal intellectual challenge and a way to help others. An outstanding student, active volunteer, and tireless advocate for the field, Zeitler is the Walmart/Pharmacy Times RESPy winner for March.

A student at the University of Buffalo (UB) School of Pharmacy, Zeitler confirmed that the academic side of pharmacy appealed to her while working at a hospital pharmacy during her school breaks. “I began to discover the interest I had for drugs, how they work in the human body, and how they are life-saving for patients,” she says.

Zeitler, who graduates in May 2011 with her PharmD, says that she never wanted an academic career, since working in a laboratory and having limited interaction with people did not sound particularly appealing. When she saw the positive impact pharmacists have on their patients, Zeitler knew pharmacy was the right choice.

Zeitler puts her time and energy into sharing information about pharmacy with her local community. The proper disposal of medication is an important concern in many places, and Zeitler was a leader in the Erie County Drug Disposal Program, which collected prescription drugs from patients in Getzville, New York. The collection event received approximately 6800 doses of CII, CIII, and CIV prescription medications, and ensured that they were properly handled.

To help promote safe handling of drugs that remain within the household, Zeitler has volunteered her time with the UB Poison Prevention Program. In the Poison Prevention Program, UB pharmacy students give short presentations to elementary school students to help prevent accidental household poisoning.

As chair of Operation Immunization for UB’s chapter of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Students of Pharmacy (APhA-ASP), Zeitler promoted the increasing role that pharmacists are playing in administering immunizations. In that capacity, Zeitler has organized and volunteered for several senior community health clinics, an activity she cites as especially rewarding. “At these events, I have run into some of the same people repeatedly, and it makes a difference to me when they tell me they remember talking to me previously and that I had a positive impact on them. That’s when I know I’ve done my job and helped someone.”

Zeitler has also coordinated several events that connected UB School of Pharmacy students with state politicians. For Pharmacy Advocacy Day, Zeitler organized an on-campus event during which 5 members of the New York State Assembly met with UB PharmD students to discuss the current and future states of pharmacy practice in New York.

As a leader of the Student Pharmacist Association of Western New York, Zeitler also organized UB’s participation in Pharmacy Legislative Day. Zeitler helped her fellow students learn about the process of advocacy prior to the event, and set up meetings for the students to speak with members of the state legislature in Albany.

Zeitler coordinated a video on health care reform that UB’s chapter of APhA-ASP sent to Senators Charles Schumer (D, NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY) and Congressman Chris Lee (R, NY). “It is crucial that pharmacists be looked upon as a central component in our health care system. Medication therapy management programs and adequate reimbursement for drug acquisition and pharmacy-based services are key provisions that need to be addressed and acted upon at the national level,” Zeitler says.

Zeitler plans to pursue a postgraduate year 1 residency in a hospital or institutional setting, where she will likely continue to enjoy balancing the intellectual and compassionate aspects of pharmacy. Zeitler notes, “In medicine and health care, things are constantly changing. You must be a life-long learner as a pharmacist, both for yourself and the benefit of your patients. â– 

About the School

The University of Buffalo (UB) School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences was founded in 1886, and is the only pharmacy school in the State University of New York system. Encompassing the departments of pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical sciences, the school offers professional, undergraduate, and graduate programs.

The Walmart/Pharmacy Times Respy Award

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.

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