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Tuesday, January 12 is National Pharmacist Day

January 6, 2021

The day focuses on the importance of pharmacists, and it honors how much they impact our health and well-being. NCH employs more than thirty pharmacists, working with inpatients and outpatients.

Here are nine NCH pharmacists to get to know.

John Knupp, Pharm.D., B.S.
Inpatient Pharmacy-Night Shift
Length of time at NCH: 11 years
Pharmacy School: Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy

NCH Influencer: Like me, retired NCH pharmacist Leonard Sneider pursued a second career later in life. He impacted me by striving to improve himself and the department.

Why I chose to be a pharmacist: My first career in time management equipment was being slowly phased out by more modern technology. After my children were born, I put my chemistry degree to work and went to pharmacy school to embark on a second career as a pharmacist.

Joanne Knupp, B.S. Pharmacy
Inpatient Pharmacy-Night Shift
Length of time at NCH: 30 years
Pharmacy School: University of Illinois College of Pharmacy

NCH Influencer: About 20 years ago, I was the oncology pharmacist. On that unit, I met a nurse named Amy Dolce. I sometimes found serving the oncology patients to be emotionally difficult. Cancer is a cruel disease. Amy was always there with a cheerful smile, a joyful heart and an understanding ear. Her empathy for those around her impacted the way I try to approach patient care and my relationship with those I interact with at NCH.

Why I chose to be a pharmacist: I honestly think I became a pharmacist because it’s what my mom wanted me to do. It was her wish that I always be able to support myself. As a freshman in high school, she sent me to the local hospital to volunteer as a candy striper in the pharmacy. After four years of seeing what pharmacists did, it seemed as good a profession as any other I could think to pursue.

Mollie Luckey, Pharm.D.
Inpatient Pharmacy
Length of time at NCH: Three years
Pharmacy School: Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy

NCH Influencer: Nicole, our critical care pharmacist. She has a great wealth of knowledge and I am constantly learning new things from her. She is always helping me become a better pharmacist.

Why I chose to be a pharmacist: I loved science, especially chemistry. I knew that I wanted to do something that involved those things. My older cousin and I are very similar. She graduated from pharmacy school around the same time I was deciding what I wanted to do. After talking with her, I decided that it would be a good fit for me as well. My younger sister later went on to become a pharmacist, too.

Emily Miller, B.A., Pharm.D., Clinical Pharmacist
Inpatient Pharmacy
Length of time at NCH: Six years
Pharmacy School: Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy

NCH Influencer: There are so many people at NCH who have impacted me, but if I have to choose one, it would be Ann Burns, the former NCH pharmacy clinical coordinator. I had not completed a residency after pharmacy school, but she saw my potential and motivation, and really invested in me through training to become a clinical pharmacist.

Why I chose to be a pharmacist: I decided to become a pharmacist because it’s the perfect blend of science and math, medicine is always evolving and requires lifelong learning. The role has allowed for good work/life balance, allowing me to be a fully present mother to my children.

Nikki Moersch, Pharm.D., BCPS, Clinical Pharmacist
Pharmacy Department
Length of time at NCH: Four years
Pharmacy School: Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy and PGY-1 residency at NorthShore University HealthSystem

NCH Influencer: Shan Wong, my fellow 9S Pharmacist, is an amazing person, and I feel so lucky that I get to work with such a caring and hardworking pharmacist. We make an awesome COVID pharmacy team.

Why I chose to be a pharmacist: I always knew I wanted to help people and work in healthcare like my mom, an R.N. However, I didn’t know that I wanted to be a pharmacist until I shadowed one in eighth grade. It was an amazing experience, and once I found out I could work in a hospital as a pharmacist, I knew pharmacy was the right fit for me.

Rajeswaran Ramakrishnan, Pharm.D.
Pharmacy
Length of time at NCH: Seven and a half years
Pharmacy School: University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

NCH Influencer: Ms. Dolly, the cafeteria employee who I see working hard every day. She not only impresses me with her cheerful greeting to everyone who comes to the register, she also addresses each person by their individual name. At first I thought she was just nice to me and few others, but I quickly realized that she is this warm to everyone. This had a huge impact on me of going a step “over and beyond.” She also remembers special food preferences for individual staff members and she caters to that need.

Why I chose to be a pharmacist: I had spent my young growing years in India, as an intern in my father’s medical clinic. I saw him take care of patients with care and diligence that made me choose healthcare as my future career path. The need for pharmacological intervention early in certain disease states and the positive impact it had on the quality of life intrigued me. I became a pharmacist because I love to apply my knowledge, experience and skills to the best of my ability to ensure that medications are used appropriately to improve patient outcome. The complexity involved in pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics of drugs, and the resulting complexities of drug/drug and drug/disease interactions, makes me enjoy being a pharmacist and an integral part of the healthcare team.

Rekah Shah, Staff Pharmacist
Pharmacy Department
Length of time at NCH: 36+ years at NCH
Pharmacy School: LMCP College of Pharmacy, India

NCH Influencer: Pharmacist Casey Sawalaski had the most impact on me at NCH. 

Why I chose to be a pharmacist: My mom’s uncle was a pharmacist and many years ago he inspired me to go to pharmacy school.

Megan Tielke, Pharm.D., BCPS
Pharmacy Department
Length of time at NCH: Four and a half years
Pharmacy School: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy

NCH Influencer: Kate Koentz, Pharm.D., has supported me since I started at NCH. She has a great work ethic, and I respect her willingness to embrace new challenges. 

Why I chose to be a pharmacist: My interests in math and chemistry, combined with a desire to help others, led me to the pharmacy field. I enjoyed being able to explore the variety of career options for pharmacists, and pursue a path that fit for me.

Leslie Weckerlin, RPh, Certified in MTM, Immunizations and Anticoagulation Therapy Management
Outpatient Pharmacy
Length of time at NCH: Three years
Pharmacy School: Drake University

NCH Influencer: I am very impressed with the professionalism and caring attitude of the staff at the registration desk in the Busse Center.

Why I chose to be a pharmacist: My favorite subjects in high school were biology, chemistry and math — so that opened the pathway to pharmacy. I enjoy getting to know patients on a personal level and helping with any medication or therapy questions.

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