Emily Schuster: Focused On Wellbeing

Emily Schuster Headshot

During her last year of pharmacy school, recent graduate Emily Schuster presented insights from her Leadership Emphasis Area (LEA) Project during a breakout session at the UMD Employee Benefits Fair.

During her presentation, “The Tetris Effect to Improve Your Wellbeing,” she addressed the chicken or egg conundrum of happiness and success, as well as of health and happiness.

Schuster was the first student to introduce and implement a wellbeing breakout session at the Benefits Fair. Her presentation was born out of her LEA and colloquium research at the College of Pharmacy.

Schuster became interested in promoting wellbeing during her second year Foundations of Leadership class. Prior to this course, she felt overwhelmed by her prospects and the different paths she could take.

Schuster became inspired to take control of her attitude when she was introduced to a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. She realized she had the freedom to choose her attitude and decided to focus her research on improving the wellbeing of herself and others.

Since that time, Schuster analyzed pharmacy students’ perceptions of optimism and resilience, which has led her to create tips for how students can boost their happiness levels.

“There’s nothing better than boosting others’ moods and talking about happiness,” she said.

She first thought of a career in pharmacy back in 9th grade, when she took a career survey to determine which paths matched her personality and values. Pharmacy happened to be one of her top results, and after researching, she decided it was a good fit for her.

“I was deeply interested in the sciences and medical field, and I knew that whatever career path I chose, I wanted to help people,” she said.

Born and raised in the small town of Side Lake, Minn., Schuster has a great passion for rural areas. After receiving her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota–Duluth, she wanted to continue her studies at a pharmacy school that allowed for more rural opportunities.

She chose to stay in Minnesota not only because of the U’s College of Pharmacy’s high ranking, but also because of the history of advanced placement rate for pharmacists in the state.

Schuster became interested in the LEA during her first few weeks of pharmacy school. In her Becoming a Pharmacist course, she had the opportunity to take a StrengthsFinder test to find out her top five themes.

“I felt empowered to learn more about myself and my colleagues,” she said.

Schuster learned that her top five themes are input, empathy, harmony, connectedness and includer.

“Four of these themes are from the relationship-building domain, which makes complete sense for me, especially as I reflect back on when I’ve felt happiest and on what motivates me,” she said.

These themes also explain Shuster’s passion for pharmacy; her favorite part is the patient-pharmacist relationship. From studying leadership theories, Schuster has learned more about herself and her classmates and has been able to apply these teachings in jobs and student organizations.

“I’m excited that my colleagues and I will have the opportunity to continue to practice these leadership models and theories in our pharmacy careers,” she said.

—Lauren Fontaine