A reminder why I chose this profession
Working with young children at a local school provided perspective for Joseph D’Antonio.
What is a profession, if not for those to whom we serve?
Through my APhA–ASP Chapter, I recently had the honor of teaching a group of second grade students about the importance of math and science. My team designed a lesson in which students performed three activities at different learning stations and rotated through each station independently. At my station, I assisted the students in following the directions to create slime (a mixture of glue, food coloring, and contact solution, with a consistency of a durable, squishy gel). I noted that the last student to try out the slime station was more socially reserved from the outset than all of his classmates. In the moment, I didn’t dwell on it much but facilitated the lesson in a way that would make him feel more confident and engaged. I wanted to make him feel at ease and supported through the activity, so I made an effort to get him to come out of his shell by giving him opportunities to interact with me however he felt comfortable.
I would ask him math questions instead of merely leading him through the steps, gauging his ability to add, subtract, and manipulate fractions before correcting or praising him. He picked his favorite color and chose to add in the optional glitter to give his slime an extra sparkle. It wasn’t until sometime afterward that the teacher told me she had specifically set it up so that I would engage with the young man. I learned later that he was a child in foster care with no male role models in his life, and since I was the only male student pharmacist to attend, the teacher wanted to take advantage of the opportunity for him to interact with me.
A lasting impression
As I reflect back on the experience, I find appreciation and perspective. What I initially saw as just an ineteraction with a reserved child was actually a tremendous opportunity to help set the standard for how this young man may come to view himself in the future. Having experience as a pharmacy technician has taught me that I will regularly interact with many people, including patients, professional representatives, and others.
It is important to remember pharmacists have an active ability to empathize with others and meet them on their terms. It is impossible to know what others are going through, whether it be a physical, mental, or emotional struggle. Each patient, or person for that matter, should be treated with kindness and respect, as there is no telling how much an interaction may resonate with them.
While I later learned how much this experience meant to that young boy, I don’t think he will ever know how much it meant to me as well. It reminded me why I chose this career in the first place. I have no doubt this experience will serve me well as a future pharmacist.
Joseph D’Antonio is a second-year PharmD candidate at the Binghamton University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.