Pharmacy is much more than counting pills, says University of Texas at Austin graduate

May 13, 2002

AUSTIN, Texas—As a high school student growing up in Lake Jackson, Texas, Anita Garcia wanted to help others and loved chemistry. So, no one was surprised when she decided to pursue a career in pharmacy.

Anita Garcia
Photo by Marsha Miller

Anita Garcia

Through volunteering and internships, she has learned that the pharmacy profession is not just about counting pills, learning drug names and contemplating doses.

"Pharmacy is patient care, team work, ethical issues, decision-making, management and, most important, it's about educating the patient," said Garcia, who is graduating this spring from The University of Texas at Austin with a doctor of pharmacy degree (Pharm.D).

"Pharmacists have a vital role in patient care and health outcomes," she said. "As a clinical pharmacist and caregiver, my intent is to optimize patient health-related quality of life."

Garcia said she knew she wanted to go into pharmacy at a fairly young age.

"My parents encouraged my brother and I to think about our future as we went through school," she said. "They were dedicated to identifying our interests and strengths and developing them. I think that was very helpful because I knew what I wanted to do going into college."

Throughout high school, Garcia volunteered at Brazosport Memorial Hospital, and the pharmacy experience solidified her thoughts about pursuing a degree in pharmacy.

During her recent pharmacy rotations San Antonio, Garcia strengthened her clinical skills and learned the pharmacist's role as part of a medical team. She was recently accepted into a pharmacy practice residency at the University of North Carolina Hospitals.

"If I immerse myself in a residency program designed to develop and improve my clinical, leadership, research and teaching skills, I will be exposed and educated on numerous aspects of pharmacy practice to make me a well-rounded clinician," Garcia said.

After her pharmacy practice residency, she is interested in pursuing an oncology specialty residency program.

Scott Soefje, an adjunct assistant professor of clinical pharmacy at the university and clinical oncology pharmacist at the Audie Murphy Veterans Hospital in San Antonio, is more than impressed with Garcia. He was one of her professors at the hospital when she did her rotations this spring.

"Anita is one of the best students I've seen in my two years here at the hospital," he said. "She has the drive that's necessary to go above and beyond. I am so confident that she will do well that I've offered her a second residency (in oncology) a year in advance."

Garcia also has a strong interest in clinical research and teaching. She wants some day to be a primary investigator for clinical trials and to initiate her own work in areas of clinical interest, particularly in the field of oncology. As a future educator, she would like to teach pharmacy students, other health care professionals and members of the community.

Another of her "professional desires" is to coordinate a middle school program dedicated to teaching students topics in medicine.

Despite a heavy work load at school, Garcia is active in various extracurricular activities, including serving as president of the pharmacy service fraternity, Phi Delta Chi. While at the university, she worked as a pharmacy technician at an Austin clinic that provided free health services for the indigent.

She also was a member of the UT Ballet Folklorico, the University Orchestra, the Mexican American Culture Committee and a peer tutor at the Learning Skills Center. She dances with Ballet Folklorico de San Antonio.

"I participate in folklorico dance groups because I enjoy dancing and get to share my culture with others," Garcia said. "Plus, I get to meet new people, get away from the books and have some fun!"

For further information contact: Nancy Neff, Office of Public Affairs (512) 471-6504.