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Student’s encounter with pharmacy specialist helped define her life’s path

How does one decide their career aspirations? With a vast array of professional paths available, it’s a daunting decision with major quality of life implications.

For some, like Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy student Paige Summers, the way forward is defined by personal influences. Her calling became apparent through lived experience, and she has pursued it without hesitation.

In spring 2015, Lisa Lubsch, PharmD, BCPPS, clinical professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and pediatric pharmacy specialist with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, was among the health-care team treating Summers who had been admitted to Cardinal Glennon for critically high blood pressure.

Fast forward to September 2020 when Lubsch received the following message.

“Dr. Lubsch,

My name is Paige Summers and I am almost certain that I was one of your patients as a child at Cardinal Glennon Hospital. I was 16-years-old, and had stroke-level blood pressure. I was admitted for a whole week to decide the best plan of action.

I am sure you will have no remembrance of this event. I remember that you told me you taught at SIUE. I just wanted you to know that I have an interview Friday with the SIUE School of Pharmacy.

At 16, I knew I loved math and science. When you came into my room and talked to me about your profession, I knew I wanted to be just like you. I want you to know that I would not be here today if it were not for you. Whether I get accepted or not, I wanted to thank you for making such an impression on me at a young age.

Sincerely,

Paige Summers”

Lubsch responded to Summers, of West Frankfort, with encouragement and the offer to assist however possible. The two corresponded again after Summers received acceptance into the SOP program, and during her first semester in fall 2021.

“I know how busy she has to be,” Summers said. “Considering that, it made me feel very special that she took time to see how I was. All the faculty here have been amazing.”

“Paige thinks I was impactful in that one moment during my routine clinical day,” Lubsch said. “Little does she know how she filled me up to keep doing what we do.”

SOP Dean Mark Luer noted Summer’s story as a prime example of faculty and staff’s dedication.

“When I’m asked what makes the SIUE School of Pharmacy different, it is easy to point to the exceptional board pass rates or the value in terms of tuition, but honestly it’s our people,” Luer said. “Our faculty and staff are not only proud of what they do, but also, they genuinely care about a student’s success.

“I am not surprised by the story of Dr. Lubsch and the impact that she had on a patient as she is a remarkable pharmacist, nor am I surprised by the impact that Paige had on her through a simple message acknowledging her actions from years prior,” Luer continued. “It’s the fundamental value of caring about others, as displayed by Dr. Lubsch, that sets us apart and, in my opinion, above the rest.”

Today’s pharmacists improve patients’ lives through the medication and education they provide. The School of Pharmacy is dedicated to developing a community of caring pharmacists through a curriculum that is nationally recognized as a model for offering students a unique combination of classroom education, research, community service and patient care. Areas of excellence include a drug design and discovery core, pediatric practice, chronic pain research and practice, and diabetes research and practice.

Photo: SIUE School of Pharmacy Paige Summers (right) credits her decision to pursue a career as a pharmacist to Lisa Lubsch, PharmD, who once treated Summers in the hospital.

 

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