Recent graduate Yossef Vainstein shared what pharmacy school is like from his perspective.
Do you want to know what pharmacy school is like?
Concordia University Wisconsin’s School of Pharmacy is proud to educate pharmacists and professionals to become service-oriented leaders who are dedicated to improving the health of our communities. Our faculty and staff inspire students to pursue excellence in teaching, research, service, and practice throughout their careers. But, what’s pharmacy school actually like? Recent School of Pharmacy graduate Yossef Vainstein shares what his experience was like at Concordia. Check out his responses below.
What was the best part of being a pharmacy student at Concordia?
It’s really tough to decide on what I enjoyed most from being a pharmacy student at Concordia. There was so much to love! There were countless challenges and stress coming from the rigor of the PharmD curriculum. These challenges occurred through knowledge and skills assessments, projects, experiential education, and more.
However, despite these tasks, there was an incredible amount of support from faculty and peers alike. I think this was what I cherished most. Going through these past four years wasn’t a journey I had to walk alone. Through the struggles and lessons, wins and losses, laughs and even tears, I was able to build strong, meaningful relationships with my graduating class. This included both upper- and underclassmen, and I’ll remember them forever.
What classes or experiences made the biggest impact in your growth as a pharmacy student at Concordia?
Overall, it was definitely a combination of didactic learning, hands-on practice, and experiential education that contributed and facilitated the development, growth, and application of the knowledge and skills that we see in pharmacy practice. When it comes to coursework, the Pharmacotherapy series stands out right away. It was a beast of a class. But, it taught me the core of medication therapy management, care plan development, and independence in researching guideline-directed disease management.
I was further able to practice what I was learning through the applied patient care and wet lab activities. Also, I was able to identify strengths and areas for improvement all with the guidance of professors, residents, and upperclassmen.
Beyond all this, and thanks to Concordia’s office of experiential education, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to practice at pharmacies across the state. I was able to gain experience in both community and hospital settings during several short and long rotations. With the help of professors and clinical instructors, my depth of pharmaceutical knowledge grew. Additionally, I gained greater confidence in practice. Finally, I developed my identity as a professional. Now, I’m set up to continue my journey in the pharmacy world.
What are your career goals in pharmacy?
I currently have a job lined up with the community chain pharmacy, Walgreens. I’ve been working with them since I was 16-years-old. Being able to work with this company for almost nine years has allowed me to gain great insight in its pharmacy and store operations, business model, and new endeavors while building connections as I continued through school and caring for patients in my community. I was asked to stay on with them as a pharmacist post-graduation and I gladly accepted, so that is where I will continue my pharmacy career.
However, Concordia has taught me to keep my mind open and strive for happiness and excellence, so I’m looking forward to future opportunities. As I graduated with my Masters in Business Administration – Healthcare Administration, I’m interested in the administrative/management aspect of pharmacy.
Although I don’t want to lose my hand in patient care, I would love to take on the role as a Pharmacy Manager. Eventually, I’d like to escalate my influence into an Area Healthcare Supervisor role. During my time at Concordia, I was also a Teaching Assistant for five years (two during undergrad and three in pharmacy school) and I loved the ability to help guide students along their pharmacy journeys. I see myself being a clinical instructor and eventually, if the circumstances align themselves, teach at a university to some extent. With this, I will be able to give back to my community, grow the pharmacy profession, and help nurture future generations of pharmacists.
What has been the most memorable moment of your time in pharmacy school at Concordia?
There are many great memories of pharmacy school that I could go on and on about. If I had to pick though, the most memorable moment would have to be the Hooding Ceremony. This was an incredibly emotional event. I was officially recognized as a pharmacist after all the time and hard work. It meant a lot to celebrate my commitment to growing my knowledge and skills to assume this professional role.
I was so grateful to have shared this milestone with my classmates. We all walked down the same arduous road together, which culminated to us repeating the Oath of a Pharmacist after being officially welcomed to the profession as doctors, symbolized by the hoods lain over our shoulders. I wouldn’t trade this memory for anything.
Why did you decide to become a pharmacist?
Not to seem unjustified or dismissive, but during my studies and experiences, I found that people’s motivations to become a pharmacist fell into some bucket. Whether it be due to a loved one, personal hardships, or something else, many pharmacists and students were connected in this way.
Yossef realizes his “why”
For me, my motivation and interest came from my grandmother. When I was young, I noticed that she was on countless medications and had health conditions that I couldn’t even begin to comprehend. I would find myself curious about how they helped her or if she really needed to be on every agent she was taking. As much as I wanted to help, I didn’t have the means or knowledge to. Eventually she passed during my first job, two days before my fifteenth birthday, and as I reflected, I continued to question my ability to have been able to help her more.
Going through these past four years wasn’t a journey I had to walk alone.
At the same time, my cousin was taking her journey through pharmacy school at Concordia (Genesis Girmscheid [was Estrada] ’18). I learned a lot by watching her and understanding how similar our situations were. But, I realized that although there wasn’t a way I could go back and help my grandmother, I would be able to learn more about what she was going through. I could use that knowledge and empathy to help someone else’s grandparents, parents, and children.
A year-and-a-half later, I began working for Walgreens and experienced pharmacy practice first-hand. I witnessed how pharmacists serve the underserved. Also, I saw how their constant motivation and passion for patient-centered care was unwavering. Their compassion showed me the weight of responsibility, knowledge, and meticulousness necessary for patient health. I saw a real sense of community and benevolence in the pharmacists. It strengthened my love for the field. My goal is to continue practicing it and upholding its values.
What advice do you have for future students considering to attend pharmacy school at Concordia?
I can’t attest to the experience of pharmacy school at other institutions. But, I’d like to offer my advice from what I went through at Concordia. This place, I know for certain, is full of talented professors. They’ll give their all to develop you into a better version of yourself that you didn’t know you could be. Pharmacy school is incredibly challenging; there’s no sugar coating it. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, defeated, and want to give up. But, you can’t.
You aren’t going through this alone. You have to be resilient and focus on the bigger picture. Remember what you’re doing it for, even if you have to think about getting through just that week or even that day. It’s okay to lean on others, whether it be for encouragement or guidance. You should also know that even if it may not seem like it, your professors are pushing you to help you succeed. They want you to achieve a level of excellence you can be proud of.
Likewise, they’re also a great resource for you and are more than willing to help you when you need it – their doors are always open – because many, if not all of them have walked in your shoes at some point. If that doesn’t provide you the security you’re hoping for, then please feel comfort in knowing that I did it and so did my classmates. The upperclassmen and all the graduating classes before them did it, too. We came and conquered what faced us, and we will wait for you on the other side!
Do you want to know more?
If you’re interested in learning about Concordia University Wisconsin’s School of Pharmacy, visit us here.
If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.