Write an essay where you tell us about what drives you in your pursuit of your graduate degree.

Since the age of ten, I have worked in a compound pharmacy. Unlike other pharmacies, mine was my family’s kitchen and my ingredients of choice were ginger, honey, lemon, and turmeric. Coming from a South Indian background, the use of Ayurveda as a cure for common illnesses seemed like the safer option without worrying about “side effects”.

Working with Ayurveda brought out my initial interest in pharmacy and pursuing that interest, as an undergraduate, helped me to see many connections between natural treatments and modern medicine. At UCI, I was exposed to the basics of pharmaceutics through classes like Molecular Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy. These classes showed me how to maneuver through each patient scenario and apply my knowledge of drug mechanisms to their treatment options, making healthcare seem like a medical puzzle. This revealed how the art of pharmacy depends on a pharmacist’s knowledge to correctly identify the drug, and their understanding of how the drug affects each patient based on their diverse medical background.

While learning and applying drug mechanisms was inspiring, health education was a big push for me to explore this field. I saw the reluctance of some patients, to use prescription medications as compared to trying natural treatments. Working as a pharmacy technician and applying knowledge from my classes helped me to see how I could bridge the communication gap so that people felt more comfortable with their treatment options. For people of eastern ethnicities, like my family, centuries-old remedies seem like the better option because of their tried and true effects. For them, modern medicine with its side effects can seem overwhelming and make them question the need for allopathic treatments. As a future healthcare provider, I don’t just want to solve the puzzle but also educate the patient about the importance of their treatment plan so that they feel comfortable and capable of leading themselves to better health.

Mareena from California
University of Southern California