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College of Pharmacy

  • Cory Jenks

Q & A with: Cory Jenks

"Beyond the rigors of pharmacy school, force yourself to do uncomfortable things..."

Posted on: January 15, 2020

University of South Carolina alumnus Cory Jenks (2011 Pharm.D.) works as an Ambulatory Care Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at the VA Hospital in Tucson, Arizona. His passion for improvisational comedy led him to another unique role in the field of healthcare.


What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I really wanted to be a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. My 11th grade chemistry teacher helped me understand how unlikely that was. However, while she crushed one dream, she ended up sparking my interest in pharmacy, which led me down my current professional path.

Tell us about what you do: 

In my role, I work with a Scope of Practice / Collaborative Practice Agreement, which allows me to independently adjust and prescribe medications for a number of chronic disease states such as hypertension, tobacco cessation, and diabetes. It allows the patient to see a healthcare provider more often while giving me, as a pharmacist, the chance to work with patients to improve their long-term health. More importantly, when working with patients with chronic diseases, it allows me to apply my lifelong passion, interest, and expertise in health and fitness to try and improve patient outcomes with lifestyle changes while reducing medications. My greatest days on the job are when I get to tell a patient we are taking a medication (or several) away!

My other “job” is as a consultant doing improv comedy. Yes, that is correct! I work with healthcare teams, organizations, and businesses teaching the skills of improv comedy to improve teamwork, communication and listening (among many other skills). I have been a practicing pharmacist since 2011, and a practicing improv comedian since 2013, and I utilize my background in both to help members of healthcare teams and other businesses improve their “soft skills” in a fun, improvised way.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

I will take the sappy road and say the family I am a part of (my wife, son, and soon-to-be second son) is easily my greatest achievement. Pharmacy has provided me with many unique and rewarding experiences, but it still doesn’t quite top my wife and I raising our son.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

To do the simple things well. Whether it’s adjusting a medication regimen, performing an improv scene, or swinging a golf club, the best outcomes usually come when things are done simply and done well. Any added layers of complexity usually bring only marginal benefit at the expense of a lot of mental energy (and often frustration).

What would your superpower be?

I would be “Magic 8 Ball Man” with the power to look into the future know exactly what the “right” choice would be! You may think this would be for complicated life questions, but I really just want to save time when I experience analysis paralysis with restaurant menus.  

What is your advice for future pharmacy professionals?

Beyond the rigors of pharmacy school, force yourself to do uncomfortable things that push you outside of your comfort zone. This may be as simple as striking up conversations with strangers in a public place. It could be signing up for a fitness event you thought you couldn’t do. My personal bias is to take an improv class, as you will find out you are funnier and more confident than you ever gave yourself credit for.

My other piece of advice is to remain curious. Please remain curious, even if it's not directly pharmacy related. You never know where an idea you decide to explore could lead you.

Why did you choose the University of South Carolina? 

No other college I visited made me feel more welcome, energized, and excited for the entire college experience than the University of South Carolina. It offered the career track and support I wanted as a student making an investment in my future as well as the right “college experience” that most 18 year olds like myself were looking for. I simply stepped on campus on my visit in 2004 and knew that it felt like where my new home was going to be.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

There are a number of talented (and extremely handsome) actors that come to mind. However, any film about my life would likely involve my wife watching it, and for her sake and visual enjoyment, I’ll go with Mark Wahlberg.  

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.