May 21, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Yanicak knew she wanted to be a pharmacist when she was just 16, working in her neighbor’s community pharmacy. “I had always known that I wanted to help others and work in a clinical setting,” she says. “I also loved interacting with customers and giving them support by talking with them about their medications.” One year into her Doctor of Pharmacy program, Yanicak realized that she was discouraged by a pharmacist’s traditional role of being reactive, rather than proactive, in helping patients’ with many comorbid disease states, such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and high cholesterol.
“This is where public health came into play,” she says. “I decided to apply for the master of public health dual degree program so that I could learn how to work in administration and perhaps change hospital or community practice policies to better serve patients.”
This dual focus led Yanicak to become interested in pursuing an academic appointment as a clinical faculty member. “I want to use my dual degree to teach pharmacy students more about the public health aspects of our profession and/or to teach public health students more about a clinician’s perspective,” she says. “I would also like to do research that focuses on community interventions to improve health, using knowledge I have gained from both of these degree programs.”
A self-identified dreamer, Yanicak has big ideas to change the world and suspects this might be why she was chosen as one of only 12 students across the United States to receive the Student Leadership Award from the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. “I want to find creative and fun solutions to engage patients in improving their health and to also create a better health system in general for our communities,” she says.
This outward, proactive focus is the very nature of public health, and it’s a unique perspective that Yanicak doesn’t take for granted. “I love nothing more than to interact with patients, but sometimes I am frustrated that I am treating them for health conditions that have developed over many years without proper medical care or health education,” she says. “With public health, I have found that I am surrounded by likeminded individuals who see the need for a preventative approach and want to create interventions that promote health at a young age, stemming beyond physical wellness to home and community environments.”