Alumni Spotlight: Donna Keissami

When Donna Keissami, PharmD ’08, published Maddie Visits the Pharmacist, she fulfilled a lifelong dream of writing a children’s book. She also created a brightly illustrated way for kids to hear about a sick child, learn the importance of taking their prescribed medications and get a peek behind the counter at a pharmacist at work.

Donna Keissami, PharmD '08, wrote "Maddie Visits the Pharmacist" while preparing for the birth of her son Dean, now 3.

Donna Keissami, PharmD ’08, wrote Maddie Visits the Pharmacist while preparing for the birth of her son Dean, now 3 years old.

What prompted you to write Maddie Visits the Pharmacist?

My love for reading began as a young girl. I also used to babysit quite a bit, and the little girl in my book, Maddie, is named after my favorite little girl to babysit. I just knew I would one day write my own children’s story. As I got older, I realized that I spent most of my time on education, and writing a children’s book enabled me to let my creative juices flow.

Why write about pharmacy?

When I started to formulate the story, I couldn’t find any children’s books about pharmacists. The choice to make the pharmacist a main character seemed obvious to me. I was also inspired by the thought of one day being able to read my book to my children. Indeed, one of my favorite aspects of my book is reading it to my 3-year-old son, Dean.

Tell us about publishing the book.

The process of writing and self-publishing was fun, yet a learning process — I had never done anything like this before! I hired a professional editor and illustrator. I chose every article of clothing and detail in the illustrations.

How can this book help children understand prescribed medications?

I truly believe that this book should be in every household with children. Unfortunately, children inevitably get sick, and oftentimes medication is necessary for them to feel better. Children are generally not the easiest patients to accept medication. It’s helpful for them to read about another child being sick and ultimately feeling well so that they can be better prepared to cope with their illness. Whenever I have to give my son medication, I remind him about Maddie in the book. It has made what used to be a painful ordeal much easier. He willingly opens his mouth and accepts his medicine!

What do you hope children will learn about pharmacists?

My hope is that children will understand that pharmacists are friendly and that we do much more than just count pills! I’m delighted when pictures are sent to me of children reading the book or even babies looking at the pictures. Parents tell me that their children request the book, and that it has served them well when trying to administer medication. My pharmacist friends enjoy it as an easy way for them to share with their children what we do as pharmacists.

Tell us about your life since graduating from the USC School of Pharmacy.

I graduated in May 2008. I had married my husband earlier that month, and we moved to Irvine, where we currently reside. I took some time off work a few years ago to start my family. I have also spent a lot of time focusing on my book, completing it and getting it out there!

What are your lasting memories of your time at the School?

Those were some of the best days of my life. I moved to Los Angeles from Houston for the sole purpose of pharmacy school, so I was completely new to the city. Not only did I amass a great deal of knowledge and earn my PharmD, but I also made lifelong best friends. I enjoyed helping at health fairs, making an impact in the community.

Which faculty members served as your mentors?

Dr. Cynthia Lieu was one of my favorite professors. I respect her not only as a professor and pharmacist, but also as a woman and a mother. I also really respect Dr. Michael Wincor, who knew practically everything about sleep! I did a rotation with him, and he was one of the most understanding and kindhearted professors.