Panther Profiles are Q&A interviews that highlight Panthers of all stripes -- students, faculty, staff, alum, board members and anyone else in the campus community.
Soo Kang is graduating with a doctorate in pharmacy from ACPHS, while also completing her healthcare management MBA at Clarkson University, through an affiliation agreement between the schools. She has been a student leader, holding roles in Student Government Association, Phi Lambda Sigma and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. She has also volunteered at a primary care clinic in an underserved Albany neighborhood. After graduation, she will be a pharmacy resident at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, NY.
She talked about the reasons she came to ACPHS, how the school exceeded her expectations – and about one particular work experience that helped hone her career goals.
Tell us how you decided on ACPHS. Your parents were hesitant to visit.
I live on Long Island. There are so many pharmacy schools there. My parents did not see the value in my living away from home. But we saw the campus, we stepped into the library, we saw all the students studying, people playing in the gym, we peeked into a lecture hall. We talked to professors and academic advisors. And my parents just flipped a switch after seeing the difference here – the valued support. People were like, ‘How can we help you so that your daughter is able to grow?’ My parents were so gung ho afterward.
One of the biggest things that I really was looking for was support. What really sold me on ACPHS was the student ambassador I met. Just talking about her student life, her academic life and how she was able to merge them in an easy, feasible, fun way was a big thing for me.
Did you find there was as much support here as you expected?
Freshman year was pretty rough, I had to adjust, even though I really wanted to be independent. But when I said I needed help, I got the help. I was able to get a peer tutor. And then professors and advisors and counselors have helped me throughout my years. This year, I experienced my amazing preceptors on rotations, and they've allowed me to grow clinically, understand my professional goals. And there have been research opportunities that I was able to have with my professors as well.
Earlier, you mentioned an important experience with a patient who was bilingual. Tell us about that.
My first job in pharmacy was as a pharmacy intern at a retail pharmacy. I had this one interaction where the patient was super frustrated at the pickup line. There was a huge language barrier. The patient spoke Korean and was unable to communicate well. I'm Korean and able to speak the language fluently. She was either taking a blood pressure medication or she was supposed to pick up a blood pressure medication.
She was actually not taking it; she was not adherent. She had no idea what medication she was even picking up at that counter. And that's why she was frustrated. She was actually taking an herbal tea for her blood pressure instead of the medication that her doctor provided her.
Why do you think she was doing that?
She comes from a traditional background – that is what she knows to drink for her blood pressure. She was very distraught that she had to take a medication that’s foreign to her. And she was comfortable with the tea that she's been taking. My parents also have taken these types of teas or drinks to lower your sugar levels or lower blood pressure.
From that interaction, I was able to really see that the patient needed to feel trust, to understand what the medication was, how adherence was a big thing for that medication to work for her blood pressure goal. She had a lot of superstitions about Western medicine. And I was able to talk to her about how these medications really need to be taken.
How did that experience impact your planning for your future?
That patient connection made an impact on me. It was one of the reasons I applied for most of my residencies in New York. It came down to the patient population that I really wanted to serve, which is very diverse ethnic communities with different types of health disparities. I was fortunate enough to match with a residency at South Shore University Hospital, which is in Bay Shore, New York.
You are also getting your MBA. Where do you eventually see yourself?
I would like to be an inpatient clinical pharmacy manager to really improve the workflow of an institution and within the pharmacy department. I would also like to continue to educate students as my professors and preceptors were able to do for me.
Is there any advice or encouragement you would give your first-year self if you could?
If I looked at my freshman year self, she'd say, “You did great. I can't believe you're here. I'm excited for you. Stay positive and continue trekking on.”
I had such a positive experience here. I grew a second family here with my friends and the amount of support that I was able to get and how I was able to grow academically as well as personally. I was able to find myself and that was a great thing.