USC School of Pharmacy Students Share Experience with Undergrads

by Brenda Lee

On March 24, 2011, USC Pre-Pharmacy Society invited three students- Michael Pazirande, Tadeh Vartanian, and Nishta Patel- from the USC School of Pharmacy to share their knowledge and experiences as graduate students with the members of the club.

Pazirande, a fourth year student, started out by talking about the healthcare system, breaking it down for students by comparing it to purchasing clothes.

Just as a pair of jeans are made by a manufacturer and are sold to a wholesaler, making them easier to distribute to retail, pharmaceutical drugs are handled in a similar fashion, Pazirande said.

Furthermore, Pazirande used the analogy of a child wanting to purchase a pair of jeans, but not being able to afford it, to a patient who needs pharmaceutical drugs but cannot pay for them. Therefore, the patient must go through the PBM, or pharmacy benefit manager, much as a child must go through their parent.

“[The] very cool thing is you can work at any level,” said Pazirande about the complex web of manufacturer, wholesale, retail, and PBM in the healthcare system.

“You have so many avenues to choose from.”

At the same time, the large network also has a downside, she said.

“It creates a lot of division,” Pazirande said. “I want to educate students so that they can change the profession for the better.”

Tadeh Vartanian, a first year student, presented the wide selection of pharmacy student organizations on the USC Health Sciences campus.

Vartanian mentioned groups such as AMCP (Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy), which hosts Pharmacy and Therapeutics Competitions involving real life experiences with new drugs, SIA (Student Industry Association) which hosts industry site tours, SAM (Skull and Mortar), the community service club, SNPhA (Student National Pharmaceutical Association) which targets underserved communities through mission trips, APSA (American Pharmacy Student Association), the largest organization on campus consisting of 5 smaller orgs, as well as cultural organizations and professional fraternities.

“If you’re a first year, you want to go for officer positions,” said Vartanian, emphasizing the importance of being proactive as a graduate student. “If you want to get involved, there are different opportunities.

“You just need to take initiative.”

Nishta Patel closed up with a Q&A session and provided the pre-pharm students with some wisdom and advice about their motivations for going to pharmacy school.

“In all honesty, don’t do it for the money,” Patel said. “It’s a doctorate program. Do it for the right reasons.”

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