SDN Article: Q&A: Ryo Fujiwara, NEOMED Pipeline Programs

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Dr. Ryo Fujiwara is a Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) College of Pharmacy faculty member. He additionally serves as the Interim Director of Pipeline Programs. He recently spoke with the Student Doctor Network about his role in helping students discover career pathways in Pharmacy.

Dr. Ryo Fujiwara
Dr. Ryo Fujiwara

Tell us about your position at your institution and your role (academically and with the program).​

I have two main roles at my institution. Firstly, I instruct first and second-year pharmacy students in Pharmaceutical Calculations and Pharmaceutics. Secondly, I actively engage with high school and college students across Northeast Ohio and beyond, introducing them to our Pharm.D. program and the diverse career pathways available in pharmacy.

One of our key initiatives is the NEOMED Pre-Pharmacy Club, which provides a platform for high school and college students to explore the field of pharmacy through monthly events. These free events cover a range of topics and activities, including compounding labs, discussions with ambulatory care pharmacists, pharmacy-themed bingo nights, and pharmacy scavenger hunts. Through these fun activities, we aim to get people excited about pharmacy and help them learn more about what it’s all about. Please check out the NEOMED Pre-Pharmacy Club website to learn more.

Another key initiative is the NEOMED Pathways to Pharmacy Camp, designed for current high school juniors and seniors interested in a career in pharmacy. Pathways to Pharmacy students participate in a wide range of activities, including workshops and compounding laboratory activities, while learning about various pharmacy career paths. Additionally, participants will build communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills that will be beneficial in future academic and professional pursuits.

What advice do you have for potential Pathway applicants?​

There are a couple of important things to consider. First, it’s essential to carefully consider whether being a pharmacist is the right path for you. The Pharm.D. program is tough—you’ll have lots of exams and need to master numerous complex concepts. It’s just that to be a pharmacist requires a lot of skills and knowledge. However, it will pay off once you graduate. Being a pharmacist is fulfilling—you get to help a lot of people and have a big impact on their lives. Plus, there are many different jobs you can do as a pharmacist, so you can find what suits you best.

Secondly, I strongly recommend that applicants take advantage of the available resources. Our faculty members are committed to educating and supporting students throughout their academic journey. If you’re struggling with your work, don’t be afraid to ask them for help by emailing or visiting them during their office hours. Additionally, NEOMED offers a Learning Center that provides learning skills consultations, tutoring services, workshops, and more. There’s also an Office of Student Success that helps with personal and professional development and career goals. Using these resources is really important for success.

Our student-to-faculty ratio is 10:1. NEOMED has been successful in education with a 91.6% first-time NAPLEX pass rate (10-year average) and more than a 90% graduation rate (five-year average).

What can junior high/senior high school students do to position their applications best for consideration?​

Getting some time shadowing pharmacists is a great way to understand what the job involves. There are different kinds of pharmacists, like those in stores, hospitals, or working with animals. So, it’s a good idea to shadow a few to see if it’s something you’d like to do.

Pharmacists often work with teams that include patients, their families, and other healthcare workers. So, having good communication and leadership skills is a bonus. You can build these skills in different places, like doing group projects at school or having a job in a store or restaurant. Even if you haven’t had many chances to develop communication and leadership skills, it’s okay. We have programs at NEOMED to help with this. What matters most is understanding how important communication and leadership are and being eager to learn.

Can students get scholarships once they are enrolled in your program? What are the conditions of being considered for these scholarships?​

Absolutely! Numerous scholarship opportunities are available for pharmacy students, both internally within our program and externally from other organizations. In the past, NEOMED students have been awarded various national and regional scholarships, such as the Giant Eagle Leadership Scholarship, Walmart Health Equity Scholarship, and Ohio Society of Health-System Pharmacy (OSHP) Scholarship. To be eligible for these scholarships, all you need to do is apply. Interestingly, many eligible students choose not to apply, so there’s often more opportunities than applicants. Our faculty members are supportive and can provide recommendation letters if needed. Additionally, we offer assistance in writing a strong essay to enhance your application.

Are students given insights into the different careers beyond traditional retail/box pharmacy, such as hospital pharmacy, drug/biopharma/biotech, public health/legal/policy, or academic research?​

Definitely. At NEOMED, we provide students with insights into a wide range of career opportunities beyond retail pharmacy. Many of our students aspire to pursue residency programs to specialize further in their field. For instance, in the Class of 2023, 34 out of 36 P4 students who applied for residency programs were matched in phase 1. With a match rate of 94.4%, this was the highest in Ohio and the eighth highest nationwide (compared to the national average of 82%).

Please give a shout-out or acknowledge anyone else who has helped with the admissions process.​

NEOMED Pharmacy Ambassadors
Dr. Ryo Fujiwara with the NEOMED Student Ambassadors

I believe that the smooth operation of our admissions process is truly a team effort, and I am grateful to all the faculty and staff members who contribute to our pipeline programs and admissions procedures. However, I must extend special appreciation to the NEOMED students. We have a group of pharmacy students called NEOMED Student Ambassadors who help with our pipeline programs. They organize events like the NEOMED Pre-Pharmacy Club and engage with prospective students during visits to colleges and high schools in Northeast Ohio. Their involvement is particularly impactful because they offer insights from a student’s perspective, sharing their experiences at NEOMED and providing valuable information about student life.

The post Q&A: Ryo Fujiwara, NEOMED Pipeline Programs appeared first on Student Doctor Network.

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