To most people, it may come as a surprise that today, January 12, is National Pharmacist Day. To commemorate the occasion, we sat down with UIW’s very own Dr. David Maize R.Ph., Ph. D., Dean of the Feik School of Pharmacy (FSOP) and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Learn more about him and the University of the Incarnate Word’s Feik School of Pharmacy below!
UIW: Did you know that there was such a thing as Pharmacist Day?
Dr. Maize: I was quite surprised that there was a Pharmacist Day. Someone from our main campus called and said “Friday is Pharmacist Day,” and it caught me by surprise. I actually went to all the classrooms and I said, “Do you know what Friday is?”, and everyone replied, “It’s Friday, we have tests!” I said, “Well, it’s National Pharmacist Day, and I’m sorry we’re not celebrating it, but next year I’ll have it on my calendar and we will celebrate National Pharmacist Day!” However, there is a National Pharmacist Month, which we do know about, in October. We always have activities during that time, where we go out into the community to showcase the the things that pharmacists can do.
UIW: Great! Well we’ll have to come back in October then! To start things off, help us learn a little bit about you. Why did you first decide to go to pharmacy school?
Dr. Maize: Well, interesting story…I loved chemistry. I wanted to be a high school chemistry teacher. My family has a history of teachers; my father was a teacher, my sister’s a teacher, my aunts and uncles are teachers. However, when I said I wanted to be a high school chemistry teacher, my parents said no. They said they didn’t think it was a good career for me. So I looked around at what I could do. I didn’t know if I wanted to be stuck in a laboratory, because I like to talk to people, and it just happened to be at the time that chemistry and talking to people were perfectly combined in the field of pharmacy. So that’s why I chose to go into pharmacy!
UIW: Since then, how have the profession and industry changed? What’s different about the climate of the industry when you entered it versus what the students who are graduating from here will be entering?
Dr. Maize: When I went into pharmacy, and that was a very long time ago, we did use computers. Pharmacy first started out using typewriters, and then we moved to computers, but at that time, health insurance wasn’t a really big deal, and people paid out of pocket for their prescriptions. Now, 95% of all prescriptions are paid by insurances, so we use computers to contact the insurance company to make sure that things are paid. Back when I started, it was very much counting the pills, putting them into a bottle, and handing them to the patient. We don’t count and pour anymore, technicians do that. Our job as pharmacists is more about counseling the patient and making sure that of course, the prescriptions are paid for and the patients get them in a timely manner. That is progressing to the period, very rapidly, that you may not even see a pharmacist behind the counter anymore; the pharmacist may be in your doctor’s clinic managing your medications. Or they’ll be the one that is testing your blood sugar, or they’ll be giving your vaccinations. Pharmacists now give more vaccinations than any of the other health professions that we have. So, we’re changing – we started with product, with the pill, and we’re moving to the service where the pharmacist is going to be a very integral part of the health care team.
UIW: How are students here being prepared for that shift to being more front facing and service oriented with the patient?
Dr. Maize: It’s in the coursework. Back when I was in pharmacy school, we used to have two classes on dispensing medications. We now have six weeks on dispensing medications. The rest of the time is spent teaching communications skills, the skills needed to provide services. We have an immunization class, we have a class that is called MTM, which is Medication Therapy Management, where we look at patient’s profiles and make sure they are taking the right medications, at the right dose, that there’s no duplication, and that they’re safe, and if any of those are not met we will contact the doctor to have therapy changed. Ten years from now, the pharmacist will probably be able to change that therapy without the doctor’s approval. So that’s how pharmacy is growing.
UIW: What can first year students coming into this program, expect?
Dr. Maize: Well, first year students have to realize that pharmacy is a two to six year program. That means you complete a minimum of two years of undergraduate school and then you apply to pharmacy school, and you go to pharmacy school for four years. There is a big transition from undergraduate school, thinking that on your third year, you’re a junior in college, but you’re actually now in a doctorate program, and at the end, you’re going to be called “Doctor.” The rigor and the pace moves dramatically quickly, so a student has to be prepared to shift gears away from the undergraduate way they studied, to “I am now in graduate school and I have to study like a graduate student.”
UIW: What would you recommend are some things that they can start doing now to prepare for that?
Dr. Maize: They really need to look at their study skills and see that they are appropriate for graduate level. One of the biggest things is time management. They have to start to learn how to time manage. And you can ask any one of our pharmacy students here in the school, they have a calendar with every single thing written on that calendar, and they almost have their complete day planned. We believe in a school-home life balance, so you have school work but we also want you to build into your daily schedule time for your family, time to exercise, time to meditate, time to go to religious services, whatever you want to do, because you can’t just study pharmacy, you have to be a whole person. But the studying is important and it is sometimes seven days a week.
UIW: What would you say sets the FSOP apart from ther schools?
Dr. Maize: There are two things that set this school apart from the other Texas schools, and some of the schools in the nation. The number one thing that sets us apart, is that we are faith-based and mission-driven. There is no other faith-based pharmacy school in Texas. Now, we are Catholic, but that doesn’t mean you have to be Catholic to come to the Feik School of Pharmacy. The Sisters have instilled in us that the important thing is as long as you grow in your own faith, no matter what it is—Christian, Muslim, Judaism—as long as you grow in your own faith, that is their goal. So, we’re very proud of that. And we have a mission that has five tenets – education, truth, faith, service and innovation. All of our students know that and we practice that in the preparation of the pharmacists, but we also take that out to our lives, and try to live those five tenets. So, we have a very strong, mission-driven graduate, that will go out and be a great pharmacist and a great citizen.
UIW: Well, thank you very much for your time, Dr. Maize. Before we wrap things up, though, we did read a fun fact about you – that you love the performing arts. How did that come to be? When did you first get the performing arts bug?
Dr. Maize: Well, the performance arts bug came from my mother. I lived in an incredibly small town in Pennsylvania and we were about two hours outside of Pittsburgh with very little chance of seeing performing art. We had this little playhouse and she would take us to plays there. Sometimes we would go into the city and see the great performances of the orchestras and operas and things they had in the city, so I’ve always loved that. And then I went to school in Pittsburgh, so I took advantage of the performing arts. My favorite of the performing arts is opera, so when I came down here, during the first few weeks, I was driving and I saw a banner that there was an opera being presented and I said “AH! This is fantastic!” I went to the opera, and immediately asked how I could assist in the opera. Within a year, I was a board member of the San Antonio Opera. So that was really a highlight of something that I did. I also then went and joined the Art Fund which was an organization that tried to raise money for all of the performing arts, so I have a big interest in the arts. I am a scientist, and science thrills me, but so do the arts. I think you should have a balance of both, in science and in art.
We couldn’t agree more, Dr. Maize!
The Feik School of Pharmacy will be accepting applications now through February 1, 2018. For more information on UIW’s Feik School of Pharmacy, visit uiw.edu/pharmacy.