Meet Jeremy Dow, a first-year PharmD student with an evolving passion to serve. In this spotlight, Jeremy shares how his experience of working in community pharmacies and then as an educator for Teach for America was critical in shaping his decision to pursue pharmacy school.
What attracted you to the field of pharmacy?
In undergrad, I was able to work in a community pharmacy in rural Virginia, and immediately after graduating I moved home to work at another community pharmacy in urban Washington D.C. The stark contrast in patient demographics juxtaposed with similar disease states, medication misuse, and overall lack of health literacy sparked my interest pursuing a career as a pharmacist. Additionally, a pharmacist I worked with in the D.C. area exemplified the passionate and compassionate healthcare professional I wanted to be. She always met patients where they were at, whether extremely ill, agitated, or ready to strike up a friendly conversation. Her example further encouraged me to serve the community by becoming a pharmacist. But, at that time, my passion to serve was my sole motivator, which led me to try my hand at teaching. I come from a family of teachers, so I thought that form of service may come to me naturally.
During my two-year commitment as a Teach for America: Baltimore Corps member, I had to confront numerous societal and systemic realities that evolved my passion for service in three ways. One, diversity of understanding and perspectives is essential to societal growth. Two, knowledge is linked with having opportunity. And finally, educators must engage with and learn from their community.
It was that experience that finally led me to pursue a career in pharmacy.
Why did you choose USC School of Pharmacy?
I chose to attend USC because of an intentional dedication to serve the Los Angeles community and refusal to accept the status quo within the profession. I would be given the opportunity to push myself, learn from faculty, upperclassmen, and my peers to provide effective patient care to various communities within the city. As an East Coast resident, I knew moving here would enable me to engage with diverse communities to better understand the connection between healthcare and culture as well as build cultural competence.
What do you like most about the school?
I enjoy the school’s dedication to improving healthcare through events including health fairs across the city, patient panel discussions on campus, and faculty at the top of their field who encourage students to bold and inventive with their career aspirations. What I did not expect was to almost immediately make the connection between my time as an educator and future career as a pharmacist. Now in my second semester here, I can attest to how USC pushes students to engage with and learning from local communities, whether it be patients or even other healthcare professionals.
What are your career aspirations?
I am interested in ambulatory care pharmacy because I want to leverage the connection between a pharmacist and an education, who helps deliver a broader understanding of medications and disease states as well as engages with and learns from a specific community.
What is one of the best experiences you’ve had at USC so far?
My best experience at USC so far was volunteering at a health fair in South Los Angeles. It was an amazing opportunity to screen participants for risks of chronic illnesses, educate the community on options to improve their health and have discussions with participants to learn the underlying causes of their health status. This conversation not only helps my classmates and me understand patient perspectives but also strengthens the relationship between USC and the neighboring communities.