“You are never too old to start.” That’s the advice Ann Nagle, Class of 2020, has for anyone who may be interested in pharmacy. Nagle spent 10 years working in forensic science before making the decision to pursue a career in pharmacy.
The daughter of a nurse practitioner, Nagle developed a strong interest in the health care field after seeing the effect her mother had on her patients’ lives. But, in high school she became interested in a different career path.
“I came of age in the CSI era and thought that would be a cool career path,” Nagle said. “I figured both careers - CSI and health care - helped people and it would be a way to solve puzzles and never have a boring day.”
During her undergraduate education, Nagle studied chemistry and made connections that helped her find work in the forensics field. After graduation, she spent the next 10 years working in drug chemistry and toxicology.
During her time working in forensics, Nagle would test suspected controlled substances in a lab to identify their contents. She would then report her findings and go to court to testify as needed. Throughout her tenure, she was frustrated to see pharmaceuticals be one of the top three controlled substances abused in her laboratories.
“It was frustrating to see the same people come across my lab bench day after day and I thought, who is helping these people? We aren’t helping the person much here in the lab, we are just taking the drugs away. While that helps the public, it really doesn’t help the individual much without treatment,’” Nagle said. “And treatment was far beyond my scope as a forensic scientist. It seemed to me that there should be a gatekeeper who allows pharmaceuticals into the public and who can help these people so clearly struggling with addiction. Who could that be? In my eyes, it would be a pharmacist.”
Nagle’s desire to help people struggling with addiction is what sparked her interest in pharmacy. Even though she had a stable job with a stable income, Nagle decided to take action and change careers by applying to pharmacy school.
She was drawn to the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy because of its well-known drug research and its dual degree program in Masters in Public Health and Doctor of Pharmacy.
“With my experience as a forensic scientist and seeing that the Board of Pharmacy scheduled emergency street drugs as well as traditional pharmacy regulation, I knew that public health would be an important piece of my education,” Nagle said.
After she graduates, Nagle wants to work closely with patients. She thinks ambulatory care may be a good area for her to do this.
“I think it’s important to build relationships with our patients and with our colleagues in the health care field in order to build trust and have some of those tough conversations surrounding addiction and safe use and prescribing of medications,” Nagle said. “Time is a valuable commodity that is afforded with extensive visits with an ambulatory care pharmacist, and I think it is a great place to build those relationships.”
Story by Owen Mageau