Health care professionals by nature are in the field of helping others, often giving their time and energy to improving the lives of their patients. Even so, there are those who truly go above and beyond to serve the need of others, putting the lives of those around them above their own to make the world a better place. Third-year pharmacy student Misty Lefler is just such one of those people.
Lefler gives her time generously, volunteering to help with COVID-19 testing and vaccinations at health fairs, flu clinics, and other community wellness events. The improved access to care granted by these events is a passion of Lefler’s, and she has published several articles on the ways pharmacists can promote equitable health care for all patients. In the past year, as president of the WSU Spokane American Pharmacists Association–Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) chapter, she has also found new ways to keep students socially connected via virtual means.
In honor of all that she does for Washington State University and the community around her, Lefler was recently awarded the WSU 2021 Graduate Student Woman of Distinction. She and five other Women of Distinction were recognized by the University during a virtual ceremony April 16. Lefler was nominate by fellow WSU pharmacy student and WSU Spokane APhA-ASP president-elect Kennedy Erickson, class of 2023.
“Misty leads by empowering and lifting others, and she embodies what it looks like to provide empathetic help and care to students and community members alike,” said Erickson. “[She] continually works to make the world a better place, and I have been honored to have her as a trusted mentor and role model within my life.”
The college recently caught up with Lefler to ask about her award and experience as a pharmacy student:
How do you feel about this accomplishment?
Receiving the 2021 Woman of Distinction Award is by far my greatest accomplishment since beginning the pharmacy program.
The level of gratitude and honor I feel is unlike anything I have ever felt. I could not have received recognition without the support and perseverance of the 2020-2021 APhA-ASP WSU Chapter leadership team and Chapter Advisor Dr. Jennifer Robinson. Everything we’ve accomplished this year is due to their dedication to meeting the needs of WSU and the community.
How do you believe the role of the pharmacy student has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic?
As student pharmacists we are accustomed to seeking out and meeting specific needs of patients and community members. It is because of our previous efforts to provide influenza vaccinations and education on disease state management that I believe we are capable of rising to the challenge of providing vaccinations and testing during the pandemic. On a much larger scale, we’ve received recognition for the positive impacts volunteering has made.
How do you feel being a part of this moment in history?
Having the training to provide care and guidance during this time is something I am extremely grateful for. Since the pandemic began pharmacists and interns have played a pivotal role in supporting our patients, our families and members within the community while minimizing the impact of COVID-19. We’ve administered vaccinations, testing and safely maintained acting as a highly accessible resource. I’m proud to be a part of efforts to get past the pandemic!
Why did you choose the WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences?
My first time visiting the Spokane campus I was amazed by the relationships students had with the faculty! It was obvious that there was a unique bond within this community, and I very much wanted to be a part of it. There is an unparalleled amount of spirit and pride within WSU and could not be more grateful for the experiences I’ve had the last three years! Go Cougs!
What is your favorite thing about WSU?
My favorite things about WSU are the outstanding professors and student pharmacists who have become my ‘pharmily’ these last few years. I have always appreciated the Coug community that comes with being a student at WSU. I feel that no matter where you go, there will be people to help you when needed!
Do you have any advice for future pharmacy students?
My advice for student pharmacists is to build as many relationships and seek out as many experiences as you can. When you start pharmacy school, you feel like it will last forever but in truth it goes more quickly than you can imagine. The friendships with your peers and professional relationships you develop will be the most valuable. Also, don’t ever believe like you don’t belong here! Imposter syndrome is in everyone, and you have earned your spot.
What’s next for you?
In the next month I will be starting my last year of pharmacy school and completing advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPE) rotations in Spokane. I’m eager to put all that I’ve learned into practice as I transition into my role as a pharmacist. Following graduation and completion of a residency I hope to work as an ambulatory care pharmacist.
In between these plans I will also be marrying Kegan Coplan, a WSU CPPS graduate as of this May.
Is there a specific field of pharmacy you are interested in?
I am very interested in ambulatory care pharmacy because of it involves utilizing clinical knowledge while building trust and working directly with patients long term. I like that this field entails being part of a patient’s journey, finding solutions specific to each person and seeing improvements while collaborating with a health care team to reach their goals.
I have also considered pursuing academia. I believe it would be very rewarding to be an educator and mentor for future pharmacists.
What is your dream job?
I plan to stay very open minded, but right now my dream job would be working at either the Indian Health Service or VA. I’m interested in both populations because of the diversity of the patients, the opportunities available to improve their overall health and working with an interdisciplinary team to increase positive outcomes.
Anything else you want to add?
I am deeply honored to receive this award! Whatever the future holds I am grateful for every experience I’ve gained at WSU. I’m thankful for the mentors and faculty who have helped me become the student pharmacist I am today. I look forward to finding opportunities to stay involved during my final year and as an alumna! Go Cougs!