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Pharmacy Professor Speaks to Middle Schoolers About Health Care Careers at Summer Program on Campus

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on August 1, 2018

Tyan ThomasSpeaking to a classroom of 6th and 7th grade students attending the Steppingstone Scholars STEM summer program at USciences in July, Tyan Thomas, PharmD, explained to the students what it is like to be a pharmacist and how they participate in the patient care team with doctors and nurses.

The Steppingstone Scholars summer program is an academic enrichment program supporting underserved middle and high school students in the Philadelphia area, helping them to stay engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math throughout the summer months.

Dr. Thomas, who grew up in Baltimore and discovered pharmacy as a career option in college after considering other health professional careers, including medicine and physical therapy, said she wants these students to think about different careers, including pharmacy, earlier on in their education.

“Kids who may be the first in their families to go to college may not have contact within their families’ circle of friends with health care professionals who look like them,” said Thomas. “I have found that I feel more confident about my ability to achieve a goal when I see that someone in a similar situation has accomplished the same goal.”

She explained the different settings a pharmacist can work in and as the students took her through the process they see at the retail counter, Dr. Thomas explained the different steps happening behind the scenes that the pharmacist is doing. She highlighted the science and math knowledge and skills she uses as a pharmacist in an effort to help the students think about how these skills may apply to their future careers in healthcare and the vast array of options available to them.

“I was interested in a health care profession, and pharmacy fulfilled many of my requirements – I was able to interact with people; use my math and science knowledge; and many options for career paths,” she said. “It was a good choice because pharmacy allows me to be part of the health care system and to impact patient care. I am able to work with physicians, nurses and social workers collaboratively to improve patient care. Because of my pharmacy training, I have been able to work with many adults of all ages, education levels, and life experiences to achieve their health care goals.”

It was this interprofessional aspect of her work that led to the opportunity to speak to the students. Dr. Thomas was connected to Steppingstone through her work with another healthcare provider connected to the program at the ambulatory clinic at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Categories: News, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Pharmacy, Faculty, Community, West Philadelphia, Philadelphia