Discovering a Place in Health Care

Published on 21 May 2020

Career paths are not always clear. Life experiences can lead to the discovery of passions that set us on a new course. With the introduction of St. Louis College of Pharmacy’s Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2014 and the addition of four new bachelor’s degrees in 2019, students are benefitting from newfound flexibility to follow their professional passions wherever they may lead.

During his time at the College, George Win, B.S. ’19, worked as a pharmacy technician at Schnucks Pharmacy. While he gained experience in the profession of pharmacy, Win also discovered a passion for serving underserved communities.

“As I worked at the pharmacy, I came into contact with many underserved and marginalized patients who depended on Medicaid, free health clinics and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” Win said. “I am very proud to have worked in a pharmacy where we helped patients every day. However, I wanted to pursue a different type of training to address the challenges I saw our patients face.”

Win began to see a different path forward, and leveraging the College’s undergraduate programs, he set out to study medicine.

“The College’s curriculum prepared me because it reveals the real-world application of what we learn,” Win said. “We learned the foundations of basic sciences and their application in health care. We learned how to apply calculus to real-world scenarios like IV dosing, and it gave me a deeper understanding.”

Through hands-on experiences, Win was able to begin preparing for medical school while completing his bachelor’s degree. He volunteered at St. Louis Children’s Hospital to develop patient interaction skills, and he took part in a research project at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis investigating compounds with potential antiparasitic activity.

At the College, he worked alongside Peter Hurd, Ph.D., professor emeritus of pharmacy administration, on a teaching project focused on vetting new information about public health issues, particularly the Zika virus.

The College’s location within the Washington University Medical Campus allowed Win to develop personally and provided motivation for his career aspirations.

“Living in St. Louis was amazing,” Win said. “Where I grew up in southwest Missouri, the population is more homogenous. While in St. Louis, I gained a better understanding of what life is like for marginalized people. It motivated me to pursue a career where I can increase access to health care.”

Throughout his journey to medical school, Win leaned on the College community for support, and looked to faculty for guidance.

“My professors became my mentors,” Win said. “I would go to office hours and develop relationships with them. They wanted me to succeed both academically and personally. Getting recommendation letters for medical school was simple because I got individual attention at the College and the faculty knew me.”

As a member of the tennis team, Win relied on his teammates and coaches for support and much-needed breaks from studying.

“Coach [Caleb] Barnes and the athletic department were essential in me getting into medical school,” Win said. “They understand that you’re a student first. The whole team was there for me and made sure I had the support I needed and time to study for the MCAT. They were my support system and also made sure I had something fun to do after a full day of studying.”

As he began interviewing at medical schools, Win was able to connect with alumni who are currently attending medical schools across the country.

He met with them for advice, to prepare for interviews and to ease his nerves.

“There are a lot of people who applied and were accepted to medical school before me, and they were there to help encourage and advise me on the process,” Win said. “It showed me how much support from the College community continues even after graduation.”

At the time of publication, Win had been accepted to several medical schools. He will make his final decision in May 2020.

“The College helped me develop academically and learn the foundations of health sciences, and I was also encouraged to get involved and gain deeper experiences through opportunities like tennis, working in a pharmacy, conducting research and volunteering,” Win said. “Those were things that made my medical school application stand out, but more importantly, they’re things that positively contributed to my identity and inspired me to work toward my goals.”

This story originally appeared in the spring 2020 issue of Script

After publication, George Win opted to attend the University of Missouri School of Medicine. 

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