Elissa Lechtenstein is a fourth-year student pharmacist in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

Elissa LechtensteinElissa LetchensteinBefore enrolling in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Elissa received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Syracuse University. She currently serves as president-elect of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) and as a student ambassador for the School of Pharmacy. She is involved with the Phi Lambda Sigma Pharmacy Leadership Society, Phi Delta Chi, and the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), and was previously the vice president of the Class of 2017.

What inspired your interest in the pharmacy profession?

As someone who has a strong interest in challenging, yet rewarding experiences, pharmacy seemed like the perfect fit for me. Syracuse University did not offer a pre-pharmacy track, so I worked in a retail pharmacy before applying to pharmacy school in order to learn more about the profession. Having the opportunity to witness firsthand the impact that pharmacists can have on patients’ lives was very inspiring. The longer I worked at the pharmacy, the more passionate I became about the profession and the wide range of opportunities that it offered.

What interested you most about the Doctor of Pharmacy program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy?

The University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is a well-established institution, so it was not a difficult decision to apply here. With more than 20 student organizations as well as the opportunity to complete a dual degree, the program has so much to offer students. In addition, the School is located near some of the country’s top medical centers and on the same campus as a number of other health professional graduate programs, which helps facilitate interprofessional collaboration. The University’s emphasis on interprofessional education and numerous opportunities for interdisciplinary study are key traits that put us on the cutting-edge of health sciences education.

How would you describe your experience since being admitted to the program?

My experience in the program has been incredible. Thanks to the wide range of opportunities that are offered to students, I have been able to develop my leadership abilities and grow my professional network. In November 2013, I attended APhA-ASP’s Midyear Regional Meeting in Washington, DC, which opened my eyes to the work that student pharmacists across the country are doing to improve the health and wellness of our society. Additionally, in Spring 2014, I competed in the NCPA Business Plan Competition, which was a very rewarding and unique experience that provided me with the opportunity to expand my learning beyond the classroom. The opportunities for student involvement at the School of Pharmacy are truly infinite.

What are your thoughts about the coursework offered through the program?

As you might expect, the coursework can be challenging at times. However, each class provides an opportunity for students to give feedback about their experience at the end of the semester. The School uses this feedback to continuously improve the curriculum. The School also offers a number of interesting interdisciplinary electives. I took geriatrics and palliative care electives that allowed me to learn not only from both practicing and student pharmacists, but from students in the Schools of Nursing and Social Work as well.

What is your advice to prospective students who might be considering whether or not to apply to this program?

The School of Pharmacy has so much to offer, much of which I have not even touched on. There is a way to get involved and make a difference no matter what your particular interests might be. I would advise anyone who is on the fence to attend an open house or speak to current students. The education and the experiences that the School provides, helps prepare student pharmacists with the knowledge and skills necessary to become a successful practicing pharmacist.