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Pharmacy Leaders Podcast: Inspiring Leadership Interviews

Jan 26, 2018

While pharmacy student Michelle Mages is one of the kindest and most altruistic people you'll ever meet, her CV will stand toe-to-toe with any nationally. With international experience, leadership in interprofessionalism, and a genuine heart for service, I know you'll be inspired by Michelle's story and you'll get a lot out of her good advice.

Full Transcript:

welcome to the pharmacy leaders podcast
with your host Tony Guerra the pharmacy
leaders podcast is a member of the
pharmacy podcast network with interviews
and advice on building your professional
network brand and a purposeful second
income from students residents and
innovative professionals
welcome to the pharmacy leaders podcast
I'm excited to have a Minnesotan on
today seven years ago a high school
chemistry teacher introduced Michelle
nagas a Hastings Minnesota native to
pharmacy she served a diverse patient
population locally nationally and
internationally and loves working with
students in various health care
professions Michelle's pursuing an AM
care focused pharmacy residency and in
her free time she enjoys cooking
exploring the outdoors and spending time
with family Michelle welcome to the
pharmacy leaders podcast thank you Tony
hey so the first thing we always like to
hear is a little bit about your story
everyone's leadership road is a little
bit different tell us a little bit about
where you started and how you got to
where you are today all right well thank
you I'd say where I started well I
started my pre-pharmacy years at Drake I
did the two years of undergrad and then
applied for the pharmacy program during
my undergrad years I kind of tried out a
few different organizations following my
passions which include Spanish culture
and volunteering and really loved that
but when I started pharmacy school I got
involved with a few students looking to
start a new organization focusing on
inner professionalism and I think that's
really where my leadership story took
off with the initial conversations with
these students we kind of developed the
Des Moines healthcare partnership and
over the first three years of actual
pharmacy school I helped expand it and
was able to be on the executive
committee and then the president my
third year of pharmacy school so that
was kind of really more
I found my niche as some other things
just I just didn't necessarily see it
aligning with my passions as much okay
and can you tell me a little bit more
about this partnership but I know in her
professionalism as part of the
accreditation document so when I was
required in pharmacy school but how much
you do and how little can vary you could
have just done inter professionalism
within your own college now that there's
more there's more parts to Drake than
just pharmacy but what what was it that
made you guys reach out to Des Moines
University Mercy College d-mac all those
colleges yeah so pharmacy students and a
Doctor of Osteopathy or do student their
paths crossed through different
organizations the summer before my p1
year they were older students and they
found this need in this desire to
interact with each other through drew
while they were students to really learn
how to work with each other to learn
what each other professions could offer
to patient care and to kind of have
those exposures before we are in
settings where we are where we have to
to work together so that we could be
prepared for those situations so with
that inspiration and seeing that need
and then seeing accreditation standards
change to include in a professional
education we kind of took off with that
and really expanded in and developed a
lot of different programming and things
along the way okay well I just talked to
Dave dragonis who is an anesthesiologist
in Texas and he mentioned to places
where pharmacists can really help and
that's one explaining drug shortages
even maybe to the point of IV bag
shortages and then also when you were
going to make a recommendation to a
physician they really want to know early
in the process and so when an insurance
company hands down hey we want them to
change this
that's not early in the process have you
what have you developed in terms of an
understanding of what physicians do and
how they want to be talked to by
pharmacist yeah you know I found that in
every setting it's a little bit
different so you kind of just have to
learn what personal preferences and how
systems work at different hospitals and
different clinics and everything so
don't think there's necessarily one what
right way but being able to communicate
in various ways and to be concise and as
a pharmacist always having the research
or evidence backing up a recommendation
is like it's really helpful in both to
create things to be learning experiences
and to just kind of really build that
rapport and that confidence between
professionals okay um what's the
toughest challenge you've faced with
this anytime you're starting something
new there's always challenges what's the
most difficult part of what you did with
this interprofessional collaborative it
sounds like the schools are behind it
but certainly there's always something
that kind of comes up yeah yeah we've
had a lot of fun barriers to overcome
and we really going to tap into a
creative sides with it I think one thing
that was difficult was with it being an
inter inter college inter university
organization we were able to really put
on our creative hats with navigating
different policies at different colleges
and universities to be a recognized
organization so we actually found a very
fitting home with the Des Moines area
interprofessional education
collaborative which is a group of
faculty and staff from the five colleges
and universities that have healthcare
professions at them and we approached
them to ask if we could be a student
student counterpart to the work that
they do and that was that's been a
perfect home it was kind of a process to
to kind of create win-win strategies to
really be able to work together with
but that was a really fun opportunity to
kind of put our thinking hats on and
think outside of the box yeah I know
that even just with j-term and things
like that it's well so how does credit
work like who gets credit if you're
going to do academic credits for
who pays tuition does the tuition come
from which college and things like that
I know but I know that the value is is
clear well let's talk a little bit about
what you're going to be doing in the
future you are in the midst of the
residency application process for
someone that's in that process what
recommendations do you have from what
you've been doing what your classmates
at Drake have been doing yeah so I think
one thing that we my classmates and I
are all learning is to take one step at
a time it's a pretty involved process
starting with researching residency
programs attending the a SHP major
conference if you're able to to really
talk to different sites there's the
application process and then now here in
January we are all starting to hear back
from programs it all is at different
times when we might be hearing back but
the next step then is interviews and at
the at the beginning of March then we'll
all be submitting our rankings so
there's a lot of steps along the way and
it can kind of get overwhelming but by
just taking it step by step and seeing
what is necessary here now it's I think
a very it's a very straightforward
process what about getting support cuz
for five years because Drake is a six
year program so you had two years
pre-pharmacy three years didactic and
now you're all separate how do you get
support from your classmates while
you're kind of all separate I know
you're at the mothership for this ap PE
rotation but how are you getting support
from the college from your classmates
through this process yeah so right now
I'm in Des Moines so it's very easy and
I'm around classmates but I've been
definitely all over the place and you
know one thing that my friends and I do
we always just call you up on
each other up on the phone and are able
to work through things or kind of
problem-solve if we need to with each
other we also have a past Facebook page
which is really nice to kind of stay
connected and communicate big things if
we need to as a class the experiential
opposite Drake is super amazing and at
times when they've had scheduling
changes they are just on the ball and
always available to us and then also
we've had a lot of resources with family
and friends not in pharmacy to just kind
of help me be as successful as possible
through the process and you know make
sure I take time to have a lot of fun
sometimes and just kind of balance
things out okay well now that your your
hearing back your interviewing I guess
maybe we can talk about some of the
experiences that led up to getting those
interview yeses from programs can you
talk a little bit about how
international travel fits into pharmacy
I'll tell you a quick story that I had
my wife and I went to Ireland she had
some back pain we got diclofenac gel
which was prescription there but it was
10 euros the pharmacist gave it to us
and that was it there was no insurance
it was the most straightforward and
wonderful thing to be able to go to
another pharmacist and get that care can
you tell us a little bit about the
countries you've been to how pharmacy
works there and then what impact you
guys made it Drake so I would love to go
in super detail with all of this but
I'll kind of give a little overview so a
passion of mine throughout my pharmacy
career and while before pharmacy as well
as been international travel and I've
been able to pair the global and
comparative public health concentration
at Drake with my pharmacy degree which
has opened a lot of doors as far as
exploring pharmacy and health care
systems I've gone to the Dominican
Republic on a couple occasions as my
sister also lived there for a period of
time and seen both the private and
public sector as well as served on a
medical mission or medical service trip
I lived in Cusco Peru for a summer and
worked at a hospital there for a study
abroad experience and most recently I
did advanced pharmacy practice
experience or rotation in South Africa
so with my interest in working with
diverse patient populations and
understanding different cultures these
have all definitely fit into that
there's plenty of opportunities for that
within the United States as well but
I've been able to even get a broader
view and I've also learned how how
things work on a macro scale so been
able to compare and contrast healthcare
systems the quality of access and the
cost of healthcare systems and kind of
see how systems run on the large scale
which is been a really beneficial
experience for me okay so taking it back
to the United States you're interested
in ambulatory care tell me how those
international experiences informed you a
big thing that we hear over and over
again is there's a difference between
learning and skills so maybe in high
school you learn Spanish but when you
went to Cusco I mean I don't know if
they they spoke Spanish or they spoke
quechuan was it Spanish mostly Spanish
or hey with that you went over there now
you're developing skills so you're
actually speaking in Spanish you're
doing things with pharmacy in Spanish
tell me a little bit about the skill
building that comes from that that would
help you in a residency for other people
that are maybe thinking about doing
international as a way to make their
residency's better yeah so there's
definitely the language skill that comes
with some of that international travel
I've done I think in a broader sense
just communicating with different people
and learning how they view things
differently than I might view them how
different health beliefs impact their
their health practices and that's
something that I've found very useful no
matter what what who I'm working with in
the United States or abroad
if if something isn't making sense to
them I have experienced you know
opportunities to really look and look at
different parts of their life you know
whether it's their social their
financial their different beliefs to
kind of understand maybe where health
belief is coming from and then with that
that those communication skills having
practice and experiences with educating
and explaining things in different ways
to make sense to different people which
you know I can use those those skills
when I talk to my grandma about her
medication you become a doctor the day
your anyone that's for sure yes but also
if anyone in clinic settings or really
any studying okay well I guess what many
students want to know is how do you get
involved in international travel is that
a selection process
do you just go into the experiential
office and say you know I'd really like
to go to the Dominican Republic Peru and
South Africa make it so you know how
does how does that work at Drake so a
lot of it is has been my own researching
things researching opportunities there's
definitely people to help you along the
but I think just going after it if
you're interested in it I I didn't have
anyone necessarily you know put this
exact experience in front of me and say
you know you do want to go or do not
want to go it's been more I researched
when I studied abroad in Cusco Peru I
researched different organizations and
different third parties that Drake works
with to go abroad I got different
pamphlets from the international
international office to look at
different opportunities you know I told
them that I was interested in something
that I could relate to my medical
pharmacy interest as well as as I speak
Spanish I wanted to go to the Spanish
speaking country and they were able to
kind of star some programs for me and
give me a little bit of a starting place
but then really I made an Excel
spreadsheet and looked at the cost the
living situation if it was you know a
homestay or in a part mint type of
setting which I wanted a homestay so I
was kind of made my priority list
compared grams and kind of took the bull
by the horns yeah here there's a lot of
Excel spreadsheets at a SHP we were I
was up there with a couple residents as
you guys were going into the showcase
that first time and it took about ten or
eleven minutes so about two or three
thousand people gone into that showcase
so tell me a little bit about what you
did at that showcase in terms of getting
information my what I keep hearing over
and over is that a lot of times people
go in there and find out that a program
they didn't think about becomes a
program they do think about and programs
they thought where something might be
something else so can you tell me a
little bit about what it was that you
did at the Showcase when you were
meeting those people from the residences
so I had an awesome support of friends
and students that are older than me to
kind of help guide me through the cast
and to give me some advice going into it
definitely took out that Excel
spreadsheet probably a couple weeks a
month couple months ahead of time when I
had spare time and then as it was
getting closer I made time to make sure
I researched programs that I was
interested in a SHP has a residency
directory online that was very helpful
to kind of search by geographic area or
by what type of program I was interested
in and then it from there just was
researching programs on their web pages
to understand what they offered and then
also with some self-reflection of
looking at what I really prioritized in
a residency so when I was able to come
up with my priorities I could look at
what different residency programs
offered and see what kind of really
matched up and where I thought I could
thrive and where I could benefit the
program the most okay so then I had a
big long list I was able to kind of
figure out which showcases there are
because there's the three different yeah
three showcases so
attaching Excel to mapping software and
just kind of looked at all the resources
ahead of time to make sure it was as
prepared as possible
okay well the the competition for
residency's gets tougher each year
you've been intelligently efficient with
making posters out of your experiences
you mentioned john rovers i think was
one person that helped you with one of
your projects can you tell me how you I
don't want to say repurpose but how do
you take an experience turn it into a
poster turn into a presentation because
you have a significant curriculum vitae
but a lot of that it all happened in six
years is what I just can't believe and
so how are you intelligently efficient
with the experiences you have and then
the production that you create in terms
of these presentations posters because I
saw you presenting a poster at the
national level so I think first and
foremost is I've had passion behind
pretty much everything I've done
obviously there's things that we have to
do sometimes that we don't necessarily
get to choose but all of my things that
I've chosen the research organizations
leadership positions are things that
I've been really passionate about so
then it makes it fun to do things you
never have to work a day in your life if
you enjoy your work right that's exactly
what it is and then with that having
mentors who kind of helped me see
opportunities so I went to the Dominican
Republic on a medical service trip but
was able to be a student researcher with
research surrounding that with that
research a part of the result I was able
to turn into a poster to present at a
SHP major and the student poster
presentations and then with the
additional information and additional
data we collected we're working on a
manuscript with that so I've a lot of
times with one experience there's
multiple ways that you can either share
like educate other people about what
you've been able to do
or have leadership within the experience
so while I was in the Dominican Republic
I was the lead pharmacy student to help
kind of set up the pharmacy and train
other students that were not pharmacy
students that were on the trip and then
just keeping an eye out for different
opportunities to share those experiences
okay well is there anything that I
haven't asked you that you do want to
communicate or talk about whether it's
Drake family would you do outside of
pharmacy or maybe some advice that you
have for other people oh yes a lot of
good questions today I guess some I
think a major thing that has been
crucial in my experience is just finding
areas that I'm passionate about and
exploring things to figure out what I'm
not passionate about and just continuing
to pursue those things I think when we
are excited about what we do we you know
it's it's a lot more fun and you can go
a lot further with different experiences
when you have that motivation behind it
and then with that I also have a lot of
different outside hobbies that I'm
passionate about that kind of keep me
energized and fresh when I go to my
pharmacy things as well okay well just a
couple of questions here at the end
what's the best career advice you've
ever given or received best career
advice best career advice that is a good
question we can come back to it if you
like okay let's come back to that one
okay what do you do on a daily basis to
keep the hundred things you do a day on
track on a daily basis are you like a
list person are you
you know how do you keep it on track or
is Excel coming back again soon no this
isn't Excel
this is a because then if I'm a computer
and on my phone okay
it's a free I think it's called todoist
an awesome that I can have a continual
to-do list I can look at my day my week
a specific project and just kind of
always prioritizing urgent and important
on that list okay so the best career
advice we can we can go back to why did
you go to Drake you're from Minnesota
why did you skip on down i-35 and just
come down a couple extra hours down to
Des Moines yeah so I I loved the
atmosphere at Drake there's a lot of
just very personable faculty and
students that were just very Minnesota
and I was still we still have that kind
of yeah that kind of conflict but yeah I
would nice Minnesota nice Midwest nice
yeah but I just really liked the
atmosphere people were really involved
and kind of always pushing to be the
best versions of themselves and create
the best environment what inspires you I
think when it comes down to my faith
really inspires me okay I hope is you
know believe that I always want to be
the best person I can be and make every
day a little bit better and with any
interaction I have if I can make someone
else's day a little bit better like
that's just a huge success for me
awesome Michelle thanks so much for
being on the pharmacy leaders podcast
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