Anne LaDisa, PharmD

Dentist or pharmacist? Read about how Anne LaDisa, PharmD, weighed her decision between dentistry and pharmacy.

Deciding to be a dentist or pharmacist

Dr. LaDisa graduated from pharmacy school in 2001. But, that wasn’t always the plan. LaDisa had always dreamed of going to dental school. She had to make a decision. Should she be a dentist or pharmacist? Read more about how she made up her mind.

Note: LaDisa’s responses are typed in italics. 

Should I be a dentist or pharmacist?

I loved science as a kid, and by the time I got to high school, I knew I wanted to do something in healthcare. Being a loyal, twice-a-year patient for my routine dentist visits, dentistry was one of the first things that came to mind. I began looking for dental schools in the Milwaukee area, researched coursework, and even shadowed my family dentist in high school. I was accepted into college as a chemistry major, with the intent to go on to dental school. My path was set.

Discovering pharmacy

That is, until the summer before college, when two things happened:

First of all, a friend from my church reached out to me because she heard I was enrolling at her alma mater. She was a pharmacist, and put in a plug for me to follow in her footsteps.

Secondly, I had a conversation with one of my older brother’s friends. He too told me how much he was enjoying pharmacy school and encouraged me to think about it.

I had never really considered pharmacy as a career path. So, I decided to do some research. I was surprised and intrigued by the variety of career paths you could take as a pharmacist. While my heart was still set on dental school, I switched to the pre-pharmacy program to keep that door open too. I would be taking the same science courses the first couple years anyways, so this gave me a bit more time to make up my mind.

Hands-on experience helped LaDisa explore both careers

After my freshman year, I spent the summer working in a pharmacy, and I liked it. I could see myself as a pharmacist. But, I wasn’t ready to give up on my dental aspirations just yet.

It was during my sophomore year that I came to the fork in the road. If I wanted to continue in pre-pharmacy, it was time to officially apply to the Doctor of Pharmacy program. If I wanted to become a dentist, I needed to switch my major and complete my bachelor’s so that I could apply to dental school. By this time I had gotten the opportunity to work more closely with pharmacists, pharmacy faculty, and other pharmacy students further along in the program. Hospital pharmacy really interested me- the opportunities to work in an acute care environment seemed more prevalent in a pharmacy career compared to dentistry. I also felt like I could have a better work-life balance in the pharmacy field. So, I decided to go all in on pharmacy.

I was surprised and intrigued by the variety of career paths you could take as a pharmacist.

Why pharmacy was the right fit

Looking back, choosing to become a pharmacist was perhaps one of the best choices I ever made. When I think about the variety of work I get to do and the day-to-day requirements of the job, pharmacy is a much better fit for me. Working in the hospital has allowed me to collaborate with other healthcare professionals to take care of patients, which has been incredibly fulfilling.

After 10 years working in hospital pharmacy, my career path has also brought me into academia, which I love. I still get to practice in the hospital as part of my faculty appointment, and I also have the opportunity to mentor the next generation of pharmacists and make meaningful connections with the wonderful pharmacy students at Concordia.

Do you want to know more?

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