Mahli Von Arx: From Patient to Pharmacist

Mahli Von Arx Headshot

Mahli Von Arx didn’t always know she wanted to be a pharmacist. In fact, she hadn’t even considered it until she went through a life-changing event that exposed her to the field of pharmacy.

During her undergraduate education, Von Arx couldn’t figure out the right fit for a career. However, soon after she graduated, her life changed dramatically and her path became much more clear to her.

“While I was working and trying to figure out what direction to head for a career, I was diagnosed with a chronic disease that dramatically altered my life and requires me to be on medication indefinitely,” Von Arx said.

“At the same time, a lot of my friends from undergrad were becoming pharmacists and I found myself suddenly interested in a career that I had never before considered. My new diagnosis made me want to learn more about medications and how they work, but even more than that, the care I received as a pharmacy patient gave me the desire to care for patients in the same way. I wanted to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to provide the same quality of care I received, and to empower and encourage patients to take responsibility for their health and their future.”

Now a third-year student, Von Arx decided to attend the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy primarily due to her desire to stay close to friends and family. She was also intrigued by the vast opportunities for interprofessional education and collaboration that the college offers.

In addition to her studies, she volunteers at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic (PNC), a student-run clinic in south Minneapolis that provides free services to patients from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The students are supervised by licensed clinicians.

Von Arx is the clinic’s PharmCare Clinician Coordinator where she manages the pharmacy-specific clinician roles. Her duties include developing and implementing new methods for the improvement of all pharmacy-related roles, training new Pharm Care and Med Refill/Follow-up Clinicians, and communicating updates to volunteers. She also serves as a member of the PNC's Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and volunteers as a Med Refill and Follow-up Clinician.

Her work at the PNC has provided her a great opportunity to acquire various skills.

“My experience at the PNC has given me the opportunity to closely interact with patients in a clinic setting, something that many pharmacy students do not have the opportunity to do until clinical rotations during our fourth and final year of the program,” Von Arx said. "I've also had the invaluable experience of working with students from many other professional programs, mainly medicine and nursing, which I feel has given me an even greater appreciation for interprofessionalism and the value it adds to patient care. One of the biggest lessons I've learned at the PNC is the importance of tailoring patient care plans to specific patients. A clinician's care plan for a patient will only see success if it aligns with the patient's own health goals and is attainable in terms of resources.”

Von Arx also serves as the co-coordinator of Generation Rx, which is a program that aims to educate youth about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse by presenting in middle schools and high schools. Generation Rx also conducts other projects to educate other members of the community.

“What I value most about my work with GenRx is the platform it gives me to reach community members of all ages to discuss prescription drug misuse and abuse, and how they can help prevent it,” she said. “I especially appreciate the opportunity to interact with and educate the youth of our communities, and hopefully make an impact on the choices they make in the future.”

Von Arx has done a lot in the beginning stages of her life in pharmacy and she has enjoyed all of her experiences.

“Being able to make a difference in the life of another person has always been meaningful to me, and my experience in the field of pharmacy has simply given me more avenues and opportunities to do just that,” she said.  

Story by Owen Mageau