The power pharmacists have in helping patients live healthier lives inspires School of Pharmacy senior Amy Ly-Ha to become an ambulatory care pharmacist.
“I wish to bridge gaps created from health disparities, especially for the medically underserved,” she said. “As a daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, I have seen poor health literacy in action. For example, I witnessed older family members struggling to comprehend health information because of limited English skills. Because of this, I can appreciate how patient education from pharmacists can help reduce health disparities.”
Pharmacy, she said, “is more than just counting pills.”
“Pharmacists are the medication specialists. Pharmacists undertake many duties to ensure safe and effective drug therapy. These include assisting with medication affordability/access, providing patient-friendly education, and encouraging adherence. By collaborating with other members of the health care team, pharmacists offer another perspective to patient care, allowing for the optimization of health outcomes. Like the ever-changing medical field, the role of the pharmacist continues to evolve, and I am excited to partake in this growth.”
Born in San Jose, California, Ly-Ha made her way toward Mississippi when her family moved to Houston, Texas, during her teen years. There, she graduated from St. Agnes Academy in 2015.
The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy was on Ly-Ha’s radar. “I often traveled to Biloxi to visit some of my family during the holidays,” she said. “I always looked up to my older cousins, many of whom attended the University of Mississippi. I enjoyed hearing stories about their time there. Some of them even attended the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and exposed me to the world of pharmacy then.”
Ly-Ha’s interest in health care was piqued early in life.
“Substance use disorder has afflicted someone close and dear to my heart,” she said. “While navigating the challenges brought forth by his condition, I gained insight into the importance of empathy and support from medical professionals. The impact of this personal experience has motivated me to help those struggling with the physical and emotional repercussions of their medical conditions.”
With health care ambitions and an awareness of the University of Mississippi, Ly-Ha discovered Ole Miss’ Early Entry Program when it was time to apply to colleges.
“Confident in my career aspirations, I became excited that this program provided opportunities to prepare me for pharmacy school and meet individuals who would become life-long friends,” she said. “After growing up in larger cities, I wanted to branch out and experience a change in scenery. Visiting Ole Miss on a college tour in spring, I fell in love with the beautiful campus and was charmed by the sense of community among students and alumni.”
Ly-Ha is this year’s recipient of the School of Pharmacy Outstanding Student Award, an acknowledgment of her patient care skills, said Dr. Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean for clinical affairs in the School of Pharmacy.
“Amy is an extraordinary student who has excelled academically throughout pharmacy school,” Ross said. “She is passionate about helping patients optimize medication use and improve their overall health, and she has a vision for pharmacy practice. We are excited that Amy will continue her training as a community pharmacy resident with the School of Pharmacy and look forward to her future contributions and leadership in our profession.”
In the School of Pharmacy, Ly-Ha found a learning environment that’s “supportive yet challenging.”
“The faculty and staff dedicate so much time and effort to helping their students to achieve success both professionally and personally,” she said. “The University of Mississippi also offers a wide range of clinical experiences, and the campus environment at UMMC facilitates many opportunities for interprofessional education since the schools of various health disciplines are all located on one campus.”
Pharmacy students spend two years on the UMMC campus, but those years can be packed with memories, Ly-Ha said. “I have truly appreciated the ability to volunteer with the Jackson Free Clinic,” she said. “I valued the opportunities for interprofessional clinical practice as a future pharmacist. I also enjoyed attending the Crawfish Boil hosted by the UMMC ASB in March. It was fun meeting students from other schools.”
After graduation, Ly-Ha will pursue post-graduate training at the School of Pharmacy at UMMC.
“Through this community-based residency program, I will get the opportunity to expand my experiences in various aspects of pharmacy, including ambulatory care, academia, and retail,” she said. “I hope to develop myself further into a well-rounded clinician. Also, this program will allow me to continue helping at the Jackson Free Clinic.”
At UMMC, Ly-Ha hopes to hone the skills of pharmacy students. “I have discovered a love for teaching while tutoring younger students in pharmacy school,” she said. “As a result, I want to serve as a preceptor for student pharmacists and would be excited to serve as a positive influence as my preceptors have been for me.”
By: Annie Oeth