Jenna Puttkammer: A passion for community and closing gaps

 Jenna PuttkammerJenna Putkammer is in the fourth year of her PharmD program at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, Duluth, and is completing a five month rotation at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Puttkammer received her undergraduate degree in health sciences with a focus on organic chemistry at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota. When she began her undergraduate program, Puttkammer was split between her passions for the sciences and learning about other cultures, and was unsure what she wanted to do after graduating. During her first year at the University of North Dakota, however, Puttkammer began to work toward her goal of studying pharmacy back in Duluth.

“I am from Duluth, so I wanted to move back there because I love the city and the community. I think it's a great place to live. But I thought I needed to get out of town,” said Puttkammer. 

When she first arrived at the College of Pharmacy, Puttkammer felt both overwhelmed and excited that her dream was finally coming true. She was grateful that she was able to find community within the College of Pharmacy and get to know and feel comfortable around her peers. 

Rather than joining a wide variety of organizations right away, Puttkammer took her time to find an organization that felt like the right fit. She joined the Honor Council, an organization that works with students who have been accused of academic dishonesty. The Council then works with the students to determine what they did and what should be done as a result.

Additionally, Puttkammer had the opportunity to serve as the president of the College Board, where she helped first-year students become acquainted with the college, connect them with organizations and bridge existing gaps. 

“I was really nervous going into it, but I liked what I got to do. I found some gaps in the college, where there was not a lot of communication between organizations or between students and administration. By meeting with faculty on my own, I learned how much they care and how much students care about each other,” reflected Puttkammer. 

Another valuable experience for Puttkammer has been in her rotations, which she is doing at Mayo Clinic. In her rotations, she has learned about different populations that do not receive the same treatment or are even sent home before being fully treated because the hospital does not have the resources necessary to help them. She is nonetheless inspired knowing professionals are working on how to safely distribute drugs and watch for side effects, as well as making more medicine available to underserved populations, This all gives her hope for continued development. She is particularly interested in pediatrics and psychiatrics, and hopes to learn more about caring for these groups, as there is not much research available due to ethics of experimental research with minors and a lack of funding.

 “My biggest goal would be to be able to close some of those health care gaps with populations that kind of fall through the cracks, such as their pediatrics or psychiatrist,” said Puttkamer. 

Puttkamer will be graduating in May 2022, and plans to apply for a residency. From there, she hopes to learn more about where she sees herself working since pharmacist roles are growing.