Driving advancement in the pharmacy profession: One pharmacist’s journey from school to Olympia and DC

On his first day of pharmacy school Jeff Rochon took a chance and volunteered to be a class representative. Unknowingly this risk would benefit him greatly in in his pharmacy career and lead him to meet upper classman, faculty, and industry leaders in the area. Now as the CEO of the Washington State Pharmacy Association (WSPA) Rochon attributes much of his success from taking risks at the right time.

“Surround yourself with smart people and you get smarter,” Rochon stated. He continued to surround himself with brilliant minds as he joined state and national associations and attended national meetings. “At that point I was hooked.” He enjoyed participating in these events so much he decided to run for the president-elect position and help form Unified Professional Pharmacy Organizations of Washington (UPPOW) at the University of Washington.

After receiving his Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Rochon volunteered at a community pharmacy where he discovered his passion for educating and working with patients. During his volunteering experience Jeff felt he was getting to patients too late and wanted to help people before they were sick in the hospital. In pursuit of this goal he had the opportunity to team up with a pharmacist John Oftebro then owner of Kelley-Ross Pharmacies (who happens to be a WSU alumni) in order to create a practice residency from scratch, said Rochon.

After this residency Jeff was able to start an anticoagulation clinic at the PolyClinic in Seattle. He treated patients through a prescriptive collaborative drug therapy agreement with a cardiologist. During these years at the clinic, Jeff gained credibility for pharmacists as part of the healthcare team and being a reliable source of information for doctors.

During his clinic work Rochon was approached by the WSPA to join their staff and help pharmacists in Washington State to develop similar chronic disease management programs.

Over the years Jeff has continued to make a large impact on the role of pharmacists in the state of Washington. The goal of the career seminar series is to expose student pharmacists to current pharmacy leaders across the country who are driving innovation, advancing health care practice and improving people’s lives. Rochon has done just this and continues to drive innovation by educating external stakeholders on the role of pharmacists. He is currently working on the SB 5557 bill in Olympia, Washington and H.R. 592 and as S. 314 in Washington DC. These bills advance the role pharmacists can take to improve patient care.

“Find what makes you tick”, Jeff told the students. “If the job you want doesn’t exist, then create it.” Rochon explained that by taking risks and going after his passion, he was able to find a job that he loves going to everyday.

Rochon was the eighth speaker in this year’s “Preparing for Your Career in Pharmacy” seminar series hosted by the WSU College of Pharmacy. The WSU pharmacy seminars are funded through the Dean’s Fund for Excellence and our community partner, the Spokane Teachers Credit Union. For information on participating in the career seminar series, or to contribute to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence to help expose WSU student pharmacists to thought-leaders and industry innovators, contact the College of Pharmacy advancement office at gocougs@pharmacy.wsu.edu or 509-358-7651.

[March 16, 2015] Meg G. Comito