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Of mother and sons – a shared love of pharmacy

By Vicki Matustik
May 11, 2017

The Jermain Family

Jermain Family
Brian, Donna and Scott Jermain

Donna’s story

My story began as I entered The University of Texas at Austin. I was considering pursuing medicine and was looking for a complimentary major that would help me in medical school. My counselor suggested pharmacy. As I came to the end of my bachelor in pharmacy program, I realized what drew me to medicine was, in fact, my interest in the medicine itself. I began thinking that the Pharm.D. program may be a better fit for me.

I reached out for advice to Lynn Crismon, who at that time was head of the clinical division. Lynn shared with me the roles/jobs of a clinical pharmacist and the responsibilities clinical pharmacists have in patient care. After my conversation with Lynn, I made the decision to pursue the Pharm.D. I followed with a residency and fellowship under his direction in psychiatric pharmacy.

I was a psychiatric clinical pharmacist for nine years at Scott & White Hospital in Temple before taking a medical science liaison position with Pfizer, Inc.  I have been with Pfizer for 18 years. Looking back, I am grateful to the UT Austin counselor who suggested pharmacy and to Lynn for sharing his insight into the world of clinical pharmacy.

Today I share my profession with my two sons. I can honestly say, however, that the decision for them to pursue pharmacy was their choice, not mine.

I am often asked, “How did you get your boys to do pharmacy?”

My response is, “Ask them – I didn’t persuade them.”

Sharing the same profession, albeit it 30 years apart, keeps me in tune with challenges faced by today’s students. To the boys’ dismay, they don’t get much sympathy from me when they talk of how difficult and time consuming pharmacy school is. We spend time discussing how treatment paradigms have changed. They often remind me that “the current guidelines” are different from what I remembered being taught! It’s fun bantering back and forth. It keeps me abreast of changes.

The other two members of our family – my husband who is an engineer and my daughter who is a freshman in high school – probably know more about pharmacy than they ever dreamed/wanted to know!

— Donna Jermain, B.S. Pharmacy ’86, Pharm.D. ’89

Scott Speaks

As a kid, I always knew Mom was a pharmacist, but I never completely understood what her job really entailed. I definitely knew she wasn’t behind the pharmacy counter verifying and dispensing prescriptions.  She started her current job with Pfizer when I was in first grade, so most of my memories stem back to her traveling A LOT as a medical science liaison.

As a kid, I never felt particularly drawn to the profession of pharmacy.  I didn’t even understand what it meant to be a pharmacist. In fact, growing up I was more drawn to become an engineer like Dad. My dad is the most hands-on handyman I’ve ever met, and as a kid most of my memories revolve around helping him build this and fix that around the house.

In fact, it was not until high school that I realized my interests did indeed revolve around the field of pharmacy. My strengths in school were math and chemistry, and I loved any course that integrated those subjects. Pharmacy seemed a natural choice because it is a marriage of math and chemistry, and I knew my mom would know how to help me get where I wanted to go in this field. She helped me get my first pharmacy job with CVS Pharmacy at age 16. I have not looked back since. I expedited undergraduate school so that I could start pharmacy school as soon as possible for I finally knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

Since starting pharmacy school, talks around the dinner table tend to eventually circle around the field of pharmacy. It’s great to share this profession with my mom and brother and it’s even more fun because we all have extremely different stories.

The path I’ve chosen differs significantly from the path Mom took 30 years ago. Pharmacy school has been a unique experience for me since joining the Pharm.D./Ph.D. program. This program marries the typical Pharm.D. curriculum with outside the classroom research with the intention of graduating with dual doctoral degrees in 6-7 years. (Rather than 4 years for a Pharm.D. and then another 4-6 years for a Ph.D.)

Eventually, I see my path paralleling Mom’s by making my way into industry, but only time will tell just how similar our careers.  All I know is I have the most supportive mom who is always willing to go above and beyond to see me succeed in whatever discipline I choose…it just so happens that it is a shared love in pharmacy.

–Scott Jermain, Pharm.D. candidate for graduation 2017

And, Brian’s Turn

I never had a master plan for what I was going to do with my life.  Attending college was never a question, but my major in college and subsequent career afterwards was always up in the air.  I have always been interested and performed best in math and science, so ultimately, pharmacy ended up being a good choice for me.

Throughout my childhood – summers especially – I vividly remember Mom being on conference calls as Scott and I played around the house.  I never tried eavesdropping on her conferences because, as a six-year-old, I had no idea what half of the words coming out of her mouth were or what they meant.  In hindsight, I am convinced most of them were drug names because they did not even sound like English.

What drew me to pharmacy was not understanding the subject matter of her calls, but rather hearing her talk about her job and how much she loved it.  As someone who didn’t know what I wanted for a career, seeing how much my mom loved the profession and her work helped convince me that I might like this as well.

I am thoroughly enjoying sharing this profession with my mom and Scott.  They are great resources and an even better support system.  Being in pharmacy school gives me a greater appreciation for Mom’s accomplishments and how much she remembers (although some of the drug monitoring parameters have changed since her school days).  I am really thankful for her passion for this profession and being so influential in my decision to pursue pharmacy.  I cannot wait to continue learning and see where pharmacy takes me!

–Brian Jermain, completing his second year of pharmacy school, Pharm.D. Candidate 2019

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