Meet Ashlee Klevens Hayes, PharmD ’13, Director of Clinical Operations for MedKeeper, a technology company that develops software applications for pharmacies. She shares advice for current and prospective pharmacy students, describes the rewards of pursuing a unique career path in industry, and explains the true meaning of the phrase “Trojan Family.”
Please describe your current work and career highlights.
I work for a technology company called MedKeeper which specializes in developing software applications for inpatient and outpatient pharmacies. I wear many different hats, however my primary role is to serve as the pharmacy operations expert on our product development team. Essentially, I make sure that our software team develops solutions that meet the clinical needs of our current and future customers. In this role, I am able to make a large impact on patient safety by ensuring our company’s application system meets the individual facility policies and procedures, as well as states board of pharmacy and national regulatory safety standards.
How did the resources and faculty members at USC help prepare you for what you are doing now?
USC provided me a well-rounded education that included all areas of pharmacy such as acute care services, ambulatory practice, and innovative career paths such as industry and technology. Many other colleges focus on teaching inpatient and outpatient pharmacy practice, which is absolutely needed and highly respected, however they may not give you the breadth of opportunities or expose you to other unique career paths, such as mine.
How would you describe the environment at the School of Pharmacy? Any specific highlights of your experience in the program?
At USC there are endless opportunities for individual growth. For example, I remember when I wanted to gain more research experience, I walked up to one of our professors after class and asked her what steps I needed to take to get a research position. The very next day I found myself digging through patient charts and gathering data that would later be published in a highly-respected pharmacy journal. Moreover, I was involved in countless opportunities to give back to our community. Through connections I made from the school, I led a diabetes management class that focused on the under-served patients in downtown Los Angeles. As a student, I was able to manage classes that taught smoking cessation and diabetes management, which was one of the highlights of my time at USC.
What factors originally drew you to USC School of Pharmacy?
Well, there is no denying that I am extremely biased in this decision because both my dad and grandfather went to the USC School of Pharmacy. I took my first footsteps in a pharmacy and I’ve essentially lived and breathed in a pharmacy ever since. However, I applied to many pharmacy schools across the country. I ultimately chose USC because I felt that the other schools couldn’t compare with USC in terms of traditions, strong faculty support, and large alumni network.
What advice do you have for students who may be interested in following a similar path to yours?
Never limit yourself. In your early career, keep growing, keep going to conferences, keep networking, and never stop learning. If you want a specific job or a specific role within a company, be willing to relocate. It’s just the nature of our industry. Keep an open mind about spending a few years away from where you grew up… I’m based in Lexington, Kentucky, and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Lastly, give back! Mentoring students not only impacts their careers, but also gives you purpose and reenergizes you.
Is there anything else about your experience at USC that you’d like to share? What does the phrase “Trojan family” mean to you?
Where do I even begin? The USC School of Pharmacy has been such a large part of my life. I consider the faculty, the administrative staff, and all the students to be a part of my large Trojan family. When I lost my dad to a tragic illness very suddenly during my second year of pharmacy school, I was able to continue in my pharmacy class because I felt so connected to the school and supported by the faculty. During the most difficult and tragic time of my life, the USC School of Pharmacy stepped up, believed in me, gave me confidence to complete school and supported me through the remainder of my pharmacy school experience.