Many thanks to The Dean and The College of Pharmacy Alumni Association for this award. We are eternally grateful and humbled to say the least!
To the class of 2018: Congratulations! You did it! But you are far from being done…
It’s hard to believe that 30 years ago almost to the day, we were sitting were you are today. So happy to have finished all those exams, long rotations and late night reading. Wow, I am a Pharmacist! We really had no clue what was ahead of us, what paths we would take, or how our careers would end up.
Have any of you read the book by DR Seuss, Oh The Places You Will Go? If you haven’t you should, if you have you should read it again. This book was originally written for children, however has become one of the most popular graduation gifts. We found it very inspirational as a template for our speech. So we chose a few pages to share with you today.
Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!
Many of you are starting new jobs, or starting residencies, and starting new lives as newlyweds, or new parents. You have your whole life ahead of you. What will you do? Where will you go?
We came from small towns in upstate NY, from hard working middle class families with parents, who like most parents, wanted more opportunities for their kids than they had for themselves. We received our BS degrees in Pharmacy from the University of Buffalo. During our last year, we were exposed to the world of clinical pharmacy and research which we enjoyed immensely, and left us wanting to pursue a Doctorate in Pharmacy. We had the opportunity to stay at UB for our PharmD training, but after 5 yrs in the Great White North we were interested in a change of venue.
We had never heard of MUSC, but a wise professor at UB had recommended it as one of the 5 best clinical PharmD training programs. So once we were able to find Charleston on the map, we applied, jumped in our car and left Buffalo
during a blizzard and 10 degree temperatures to interview here. And with that the rest is history.
Over the past 30 years, in our capacity as pharmacy clinical specialists, we have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel all over the United States and Europe: from Hawaii to Vancouver to Nice and to Prague, attending meetings, giving presentations and networking with pharmacists all over the world.
We also have had the privilege to meet some of the most influential pioneers in medicine like: Dr Scribner, a pioneer in dialysis, Dr Norm Shumway, the father of cardiac transplantation, and other inspirational people like Gene Kranz, the lead flight director of Apollo 13. We were so impressed that these “ordinary” people could make such a big difference.
The opportunities our profession affords you are limitless, if you have the imagination, innovation, and the drive to succeed, you can make a difference too!
You have the brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own and you know what you know. You are the one who will decide where to go.
When we started out, all we really knew about was the role of a pharmacist at the neighborhood drug store. Obviously the impact that they had on us was influential in setting us on our course. During our pharmacy training, we were able to experience several other pharmacy practice settings which really opened our eyes to the vast opportunities to provide patient care. Like us, I am sure your training and experiences here have opened your eyes to other possibilities and directions you can take with your careers.
In addition, you will have individuals that you closely identify with who will provide vision, mentorship, and support which will play a large role in shaping the direction of your careers. For Lynn and myself, Dick and Dianne Brundage, who were faculty members here in the College of Pharmacy, would be those individuals. They took us under their wing, as we made our way through the PharmD program and residency, and helped nurture our passions in various aspects of clinical pharmacy. On completion of our residencies, Dick and Dianne made the decision to move back to Minnesota which opened up 2 positions here on faculty that were then offered to 2 very green individuals and we were on our way. Myself embarking on a career in cardiothoracic surgery and thoracic transplantation and for Lynn, first starting in renal medicine and then transitioning into abdominal transplantation, before moving into her current position as Ambulatory Care Clinical Coordinator.
MUSC has provided you a great foundation that will allow you to do whatever you put your mind to. The profession continues to diversify, so just because you chose one direction today does not mean you cannot choose a different path tomorrow.
You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights. You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Have you seen the new Microsoft commercial? I hope you have because I will not do it justice, but hear goes…
Today, Right Now, You have more power, at your fingertips, then entire generations that came before you. Think about that. That’s what technology really is. But in the end it’s only a tool, and a tool is only as useful as the person who wields it. So here is the question: “What will you do with it?”
How will you use this power to impact pharmacy and patient care? What do you think pharmacy should look like in 10 years, 20 years, and 30 years?
30 years ago our pharmacy dispensing system consisted of note books and a 4 colored pen. Now pharmacists are helping to build electronic medical records that can communicate across a continuum which significantly improves patient safety. Pharmacists are seeing patients in clinic, giving injections, conducting NIH funded research, publishing papers in major medical journals, giving presentations at national and international meetings and soon to embark on Telemedicine.
We were fortune to be surrounded by visionaries that were able to see into the future and direct positive change in the profession. Bill Miller, our first director, was one of those visionaries. He envisioned hospital pharmacists as integral members of the patient care team. He had one simple edict for us and that was “to go out and become indispensable to your service”. Seems really simple on the surface doesn’t it? We would spend the next 30 years trying to live up to this very “simple” directive. His vision led to the creation of several clinical specialist positions here and all over the country.
The continued growth of technology is accelerating the growth and evolution of pharmacy practice. So, I ask again: What will you do with it?
Except when you don’t, because sometimes you won’t. I’m sorry to say so, but sadly it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. You’ll come down from the lurch with an unpleasant bump and the chances are then that you’ll be in a slump. On and on you will hike and I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.
Life is not always a bed of roses, no matter what you do, or how hard you try…
You will not always get what you want, or what you think you deserve. In the words of our God Son, “That’s Not Fair”. No, life is not fair, but how you handle yourself during those difficult times can make you a better person.
Some of you may not have gotten your dream job or the residency you wanted. That’s ok! Get some experience under your belt and try again.
There will be obstacles and road blocks you will need to overcome. There will be times when people will not be ready to go in the direction you want to go. Be patient, be persistent, but also realize that some road blocks are there for a reason, and can stop you from doing something you shouldn’t, or at least make you rethink what you are doing.
Nobody plans to fail, but we all know that unfortunately mistakes are inevitable; we are only human, but sometimes the biggest mistakes spark the most valuable lessons and insight that lead to the most meaningful innovation.
Perhaps the greatest challenge some of you will face in your career is that you will experience losses. Death is an unfortunate inevitability for some of our patients and this will happen in spite of your very best efforts. I am not going to stand here and lie to you and say that it will get easier or you will get used to it, it doesn’t and you won’t. But you will find a way, as we all do, to get up the next day and go back to your practice and give it your very best again because right in front of you is the next patient who is waiting for you to help them.
You’ll get mixed up, of course as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact and remember Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft and never mix up your right foot with your left.
You will be faced with tough situations and sometimes unprofessional behavior. How will you handle this? Will you look the other way or will you stand up for what you believe in. When a provider orders an inappropriate drug or inappropriate dose, will you speak up for the patient? When there is a controversial decision to be made will you chime in? Bullying in medicine is still of concern. So, our patients depend on us to be their advocate and do what is right.
You also need to balance your career with time for you and your families. This is something Walt and I were not so good at. You can imagine being husband and wife, transplant clinical specialists, the dinner conversations were pretty intense. As young professionals, we all tended to go out together, and rehash the days events. Fortunately one of our friends was into music and art. He would insist we attend Spoleto events, and stop to smell the roses. Sadly, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer at age 40, and passed away. Talk about a reality check! Tomorrow is a promise to no one, so do the things you like to do and spend time and enjoy the ones you love. Burnout in the medical profession has increased significantly as we are constantly asked to do more with less. So don’t forget to take care of yourself! Take time off to destress. Take a break from technology and set aside a few minutes a day where you completely disconnect from your laptop, cellphone and social media. I can see some of you are going thru withdrawal already.
And will you succeed? Yes, you will indeed! 98 and ¾ percent guaranteed! You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So Class of 2018… get on your way!!
It has been our privilege to spend our careers here at the Medical University of South Carolina and teach in the College of Pharmacy. But our time is drawing to a close. After all is said and done, all the awards will fade and the publications will become obsolete, but our greatest legacy is the patients we helped and the students we taught. We leave knowing that the profession of pharmacy is in good hands and will continue to flourish and grow to heights that we, cannot even imagine. One of the major reasons for this sits in front of us today. You have been well trained, are idealistic, and have the vision and energy to take the practice of our profession to the next level. You have had wonderful values instilled in you by your family and by your experiences through your life. These values have served you well and have brought you this far. Be true to yourself, never forget where you came from, and hold on to your ideals for as long as you can. The world can be a harsh place sometimes, but if you can maintain your faith, belief in your core values, and support from the people important to you, there is nothing that you cannot accomplish. So we pass our torch on to you and Challenge You, Class of 2018, to “Go out and become indispensable to your patients and practice”.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to address you today.
Dr’s Lynn and Walt Uber, Class of “88