Grace Baek: Advocating For The Profession

Grace Beak Headshot

Grace Baek
Class of 2019
Campus: Twin Cities

Why did you choose a career in pharmacy?

When I served as an ED volunteer in college, a pediatric patient passed away due to a preventable medication error in the home. Looking to answer the question ‘How could I have helped?’ I was struck by the incredible impact that pharmacists can and do have as accessible medication experts throughout the care continuum. I hope to make a positive impact on patients’ lives as a pharmacist for many years to come!

What do you enjoy most about pharmacy school?

I am incredibly lucky and proud to be in a professional community of students and pharmacists who actively pursue advocacy, community engagement, and collaboration. As the 2017 Carl F. Emswiller Summer Intern, I scheduled Capitol Hill visits: 205 student pharmacists, during the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) Summer Leadership Institute, advocated for Provider Status with their Senators and Representatives in 140 Hill visits.

Additionally, I am proud of my fellow student pharmacists who debated and passed 7 resolutions at the regional level (covering EHR capabilities to transgender care to work flow) during my time as APhA-ASP Region 5 Regional Delegate.

Furthermore, Minnesota Pharmacy Student Alliance (MPSA) members last year alone delivered point-of-care services to over 1,550 patients in the community. Finally, at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic, working in an interprofessional student team in my roles in the dispensing pharmacy and as a clinician is truly a special experience and a continuation of my commitment to help deliver high-quality care for underserved patient populations.

What has been your greatest challenge?

When I was first looking to gain some pharmacy experience back in California, I cold-called pharmacies and went door to door, reached out to friends of friends, and interviewed with pharmacies without any success. I was willing to work hard and learn quickly, but lacked the prior pharmacy experience and the intern license that most of the pharmacies preferred.

Though somewhat discouraged, I persevered in my door-to-door search with my CV in hand. A single pharmacist, Steve, took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to initially volunteer in his independent pharmacy. I am very thankful for Steve and every other pharmacist who has taken a chance on me thus far, and I hope to pay this forward as a future practitioner, preceptor, and alumna of the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy.

How do you advocate for the profession?

I’ve been a student member of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association almost as long I’ve been a student at the University of Minnesota. As the MPSA president on the Twin Cities campus, I have seen firsthand how MPhA invests in student development: presentations at MPSA general meetings ranging from introducing the association to discussing the legislative agenda, student scholarships and organization-level support, student participation in advocacy through Legislative Day and the Leadership Summit/House of Delegates, and networking at the Annual Learning Networking Event and at national conferences. Furthermore, I have learned that it is crucial to develop a strong collective voice to advocate for our profession and lead change.

I’ve participated in Pharmacy Legislative Day for three year in a row. Additionally, I was recently elected as the APhA–ASP Speaker of the House and will work to increase engagement in policy and advocacy initiatives via educational opportunities, open communication, and strengthened relationships (including interprofessional ones). I also aim to help maximize the network for policy development and advocacy efforts within APhA-ASP.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy reading. Recent books include Susan Cain’s Quiet, Jennifer Egan’s The Keep, Atul Gawande’s Better, Franz Kafka’s The Trial, and Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84.

I also like to stay active. Depending on the weather conditions, I enjoy running and ice skating. Additionally, I enjoy exploring Minneapolis (and the rest of the state!). There are plenty of museums, concerts, sports, restaurants, and natural wonders to explore.

This article originally appeared in Minnesota Pharmacist Journal - Winter 2018 issue’s “Member Spotlight.”