Meet fourth-year PharmD student Emery Chen, who recently completed an international Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience rotation in Taiwan. He shares his career aspirations and describes how the international experience developed his skills as a future pharmacist.
Why did you choose USC School of Pharmacy?
Prior to coming to USC School of Pharmacy, I earned a master’s degree in public health, and worked as a Pharmacy Project Manager at Kaiser Permanente. There, I had the opportunity to work with a team of pharmacists to implement innovative programs, and saw how the management of pharmacy is a major component of delivery in today’s healthcare system. Collaborating with pharmacists inspired me to become one. The majority of the pharmacists I worked with were graduates of USC, so I knew that a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from USC could provide me with the knowledge to help me become a leader in both patient care and the management of efficient pharmaceutical delivery. Also, being born and raised in North Carolina, choosing USC meant I could enjoy the sunny weather in Los Angeles year-round.
How have the resources and faculty available at USC helped you with your studies, learning, and growth?
The USC School of Pharmacy faculty and the resources have been instrumental in the development of each and every student in the program. All the professors for each course have been very helpful in making sure that I understand the material as I prepare for my future. They have devoted a lot of time and effort to make sure that each individual thrives. The Norris Library website also makes it very easy for pharmacy students to look up information online.
What is one of the best experiences you’ve had at USC so far?
My best experience at USC has been my current fourth year where students go on their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations. This is the year where I am able to apply all the skills and knowledge that I have gained in the past three years to different fields of pharmacy. Along with my preceptor, I am constantly engaging in one-on-one conversations with patients. As a student, you get to pick your rotation sites. Whatever field of pharmacy you are interested in, you will have an option to choose a site.
You recently completed a rotation in Taiwan. Could you tell us more about your experience?
Being a Taiwanese American, I chose one of my elective APPE rotations in Taipei, Taiwan at the National Taiwan University. This was the first year that USC School of Pharmacy sent students to Taiwan for APPE rotations. During my undergraduate years, I interned in Taiwan at the Bureau of National Health Insurance and Yang Ming University from a public health perspective. I wanted to learn more about the practice of pharmacy in Taiwan and how it was similar and different from the United States. Dr. Wendy Lin set me up with a six-week rotation schedule where I was able to work with pharmacists in different specialties each week. I also got the chance to tour a traditional Chinese medicine clinic. During the weekends, I got to explore the country. Taiwan is a country full of culture, exquisite cuisine, and vibrant nightlife. It was truly an amazing experience in that not every student has the opportunity to experience the field of pharmacy in a different country. I also got to meet Dean Vassilios Papadopoulos during his site visit to National Taiwan University Hospital.
What are your plans after graduation?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Health Policy and Administration along with a Master’s degree in Public Health in Health Services Management. I’d like to utilize those two degrees along with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree to possibly work in pharmacy administration in the future. Currently, I work as an intern at Kaiser Permanente Downey 24-hour pharmacy. I would like to continue working in the outpatient setting and be able to interact with patients on a personal level. Ultimately, I want to make sure I am able to apply all the knowledge and skills that I have gained from school to ensure the health and safety of all patients.
What advice do you have for students who may be interested in following a similar path to yours?
My best advice to current and future pharmacy students is to make sure you manage your time properly. Along with studying for classes and working as an intern, you want to make sure you have time to enjoy yourself. You don’t want want to burn yourself out. One of my hobbies is CrossFit, which is a high-intensity fitness exercise program. A few times per week, I make sure I have time to enjoy the gym.
One of my favorite quotes is “Hard work doesn’t guarantee success, but improves its chances” by B.J. Gupta. At times, pharmacy school can get tough, but you always want to make sure you’re working hard towards your goal of becoming a future pharmacist.