By Susan Wampler
In her new role as Chief Pharmacy Officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, second-generation Trojan Jean Pallares, PharmD ’84, oversees the medication needs of the nation’s second largest municipal system of care.
With nearly 4.5 million patients and a network including four hospitals and numerous ambulatory care sites and clinics, she is excited by the possibilities and responsibilities alike.
“To be part of an operation this large at a major time of transition for the profession itself is the chance of a lifetime,” says Pallares, who began her tenure in July 2018. “We aim to have our pharmacists and students practice at the frontier of what the professional licensure allows them to do.”
She also is inspired by the opportunity to better meet the needs of patients who might not otherwise receive care. “We’re serving the underserved,” she adds.
Pallares also plans to bring her department even closer together with her alma mater through additional teaching opportunities. “Pharmacists can utilize students as extenders to help with their work while they gain invaluable professional experience,” she explains.
She has viewed teaching as pivotal to the profession’s advancement ever since she directed Pharmacy and Laboratory Services at Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital, which provides clinical clerkships for approximately 50 students per year.
“The teaching aspect helps motivate pharmacists to stay at the top of their game,” Pallares observes.
At Huntington Hospital, she worked her way up to director after starting in an internship facilitated by the USC School of Pharmacy. Like the school, she says, “Huntington Hospital has always been atthe forefront of encouraging pharmacists to be creative.”
Pallares now enjoys bringing such creativity to pharmacy services for the entire county. Yet, as both a pharmacist and a Trojan, she follows a family tradition. Her late father, Oscar Pallares, PharmD ’55, owned a number of independent pharmacies, served on the school’s Board of Councilors for many years and was a major donor. Pallares’ mother, Mary, studied at what is now the USC School of Dramatic Arts and continues serving in the Trojan League.
“My parents met at USC and it was always an important part of their lives,” Pallares says. “Trojans stay connected with each other.”
That connection also includes her husband and brother, while her son continues the heritage as a graduate of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “It’s just part of the family,” she says.