Washington State University is preparing pharmacists who practice at the top of their education to meet the expanding health care needs of patients today and tomorrow. WSU pharmacists and researchers tackle the nation’s health care problems and collaborate on solutions to make our world a happier, healthier place.

WSU student Erin McCarthy is passionate about health care policy. She is actively involved in advocacy and professional leadership while completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at WSU.

She first got interested in health care advocacy during her first year of pharmacy school. As a result of connections through the WSU College of Pharmacy, McCarthy landed a summer internship with Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Part of her duties in the internship were assisting the head of Congresswoman’s health care subcommittee to collect and compile information on the key health care concerns and goals discussed during the Congresswoman’s constituent meetings.

“I represented the Congresswoman at a variety of hearings on health care issues that are directly affecting Eastern Washington,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy helped to spearhead, and served as the health care policy advisor for, the Millennial Republican Task Force for the Congresswoman’s office. The task force developed and implemented creative ideas to bridge generational gaps and better communicate health care policy to millennials. The team’s initiatives included events to educate college-aged students on the basics of insurance programs and seminars on informed decision-making skills.

“I found out the importance of networking,” said McCarthy. “I was able to network and build personal relationships with all these offices [Congressman Denny Heck, Congressman Dan Newhouse and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers], giving them a reliable source and trustworthy contact for the profession of pharmacy.”

McCarthy has been active in advocacy across both the state and the nation. In February she accompanied pharmacy colleagues from WSU and the Washington State Pharmacy Association to meet with state legislators in Olympia, and has been on several trips to Washington, D.C. for both leadership and advocacy meetings through the American Pharmacists Association, of which she is a member of the WSU student chapter (APhA-ASP).

“My D.C. internship opened the doors in showing me that I really wanted to pursue my passion for policy and started me looking for ways to make more of a difference, especially in APhA-ASP.”

McCarthy was able to participate in these leadership and advocacy opportunities because of the education, professional support, and mentoring she receives from the WSU College of Pharmacy.

“There is much more to being a pharmacist than passing your NAPLEX, law exam, and filling out a license application. To be a pharmacist is to be a leader. WSU College of Pharmacy really strives to cultivate quality leaders and professionals,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy was born in Vacaville, California. Her parents moved from California to Texas to Pennsylvania before arriving in Washougal, Washington. McCarthy completed her bachelor’s degree in physiology at the University of Washington, and she is currently in her third year of the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program. As a pharmacist, McCarthy plans to work in hospital setting and is interested in focusing on operating room pharmacy.

I addition to being active in APhA-ASP, McCarthy is also in the WSU College of Pharmacy Student Ambassador Program, the Kappa Psi Beta Pi pharmaceutical fraternity, the WSU Professional Pharmacy Student Organization, and the American Society of Heath System Pharmacists.

“I definitely have a huge passion for policy and advocating for our patients and the profession. I see myself always being active in the political field,” said McCarthy.

When asked what she’s looking forward to this year: “I look forward to making a difference in the profession of pharmacy and meeting so many inspiring and exciting people,” says McCarthy.

[March 9, 2016] By: Lori J. Maricle