Q&A with Alumnus Katherine Tadayoni

Katherine Tadayoni graduated from the College of Pharmacy in 2014, then went on to earn her MPH from the Northwestern University in Chicago.  She credits the work she did while at the College of Pharmacy with sparking her interest in public health.

Tell us how your work on your PharmD IV paper influenced your public health work.

The focus of my PharmD IV paper was looking at the differences in health outcomes among Hispanic women with breast cancer. The paper gave me a deeper insight on health disparities and an understanding that the term “health disparities” encompasses more than just being able to afford healthcare. The research paper also caused me to think, how can pharmacists help address these health disparities? My research for the PharmD IV answered the question that there are gaps in breast cancer treatment outcomes, particularly among Hispanic women, and that there is potential for pharmacists to address these gaps. For my MPH research I wanted to expand upon what I learned in pharmacy school and focus more on how pharmacists can improve breast cancer outcomes among women.

Tell us about your research to help reduce health disparities in underserved populations and expand roles of pharmacists working in the community.

The research I conducted was using the national publicly available data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to determine if women who are overdue for mammograms are likely to be taking chronic medications or have a chronic condition likely to be managed with chronic medications. The idea is that women who are on chronic medications are likely to be in consistent contact with pharmacists and, if so, there is possibly an already existing relationship between women overdue for mammograms and pharmacists, where potential interventions can be developed. To my knowledge, there are no other studies that have explored the relationship between pharmacists, particularly community/retail pharmacists, and women overdue for mammograms.

How did your experience at the College of Pharmacy, Duluth help you in your advanced studies?

My experience at the College of Pharmacy, Duluth helped me develop personally and professionally. The diverse curriculum exposed me to different areas of pharmacy where I was able to find out what my interests were as well as determine my strengths and weaknesses as a pharmacist. The PharmD IV paper reminded me of my love for research and exposed me to an area of pharmacy I never considered, which was public health. I am grateful to all of the pharmacy faculty and mentors that listened to my crazy ideas and dreams and pushed me to keep going.

What did you enjoy most during your time at the College of Pharmacy, Duluth?

What I enjoyed most during my time in Duluth were my rotations during my fourth year. It was exciting to put together everything we learned for the past three years into practice. I loved being able to see how our work as pharmacists actually impacts people just like my family and friends. During rotations, I learned a great deal about myself and the profession of pharmacy. Even the rotation sites that I may not have enjoyed as much, compared to other sites, I was able to learn things that drive me to be a better pharmacist.

What advice would you give to current students and recent graduates?

My biggest advice to current students and recent graduates is not to be scared to go for the things that interest you and ignite the most passion in you. Even if it is something that no one else is doing or has not been done, that is okay. One of my pharmacist mentors that I met while in Duluth once told me, “You have so much to offer the world with your crazy whims and ideas. It is okay to own them and put them out there.” At the end of the day, being a pharmacist is hard work so you should enjoy what you are doing. Also, having passion behind the work you’re doing ultimately results in better outcomes for the population you are serving. For current students, take advantage of the time in school to explore different pharmacy career paths. The wonderful thing about the profession of pharmacy is that there are so many fields we can make a difference in, from the retail setting all the way to the public health sector.

Now that you have completed your MPH, what are you doing now? What are your future career goals?

Since graduating with my MPH in June, I have been working part time at Target pharmacy. It has been a big learning experience for me since I have never worked as a pharmacy intern in a pharmacy. All of my past work experience has been in research.

What I have liked most about working at Target pharmacy so far is the relationships I am building with my patients. I enjoy the continuity of care and being able to follow up with them on their progress. In addition, I am currently in the process of getting my research project from the MPH program ready to submit for publication.

With the remainder of my time, when I am not working at Target, I have been looking for potential research opportunities in pharmaco-epidemiology and/or cancer so that I can combine my MPH and pharmacy background. I do have a potential research that would be looking at resistant forms of prostate cancer and also partnering with a urology team to test new medications for the resistant forms of prostate cancer. I am excited about this possible opportunity because it combines my passion for cancer research and my pharmacy background.

My future career goal is to become a practicing faculty member of a pharmacy school. I personally love the academic setting and I don’t think I can ever steer away from it. I hope to continue doing research in areas that I am passionate about with an emphasis on public health. I also hope to expose future pharmacists to a career in public health. With the ongoing changes in healthcare, I think there will be a lot of exciting opportunities for pharmacists in public health in the years to come.