Shenandoah University Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics & Personalized Medicine student Sidrah Alam ’22 was recently named SingleCare’s Best Up-and-Coming Pharmacist. In this SU Q&A, Alam, who studies at Shenandoah’s pharmacy program at the Inova Center for Personalized Health in Fairfax, shares how she feels about the award and other accolades that have come her way this year.
How did it feel to receive the SingleCare Best Up-And-Coming Pharmacist Award? What did it mean to receive this award?
I was shocked and honored to receive this award. This award exemplifies that every day I give my best. I am being recognized for the impact I have as a future pharmacist. It’s nice to know that when you’re giving back to people, it’s not unnoticed. Most importantly, this award further drives my motivation to continue to strive to be the best.
Your mom also won the SingleCare Covid Cares Pharmacy Technician Award. What was it like for you both to be recognized? Also, how has your mom’s work, and your family as a whole, influenced your pharmacy career path?
It was definitely a heartwarming experience for both my mother and I to be recognized. I have always looked up to my mother and she is one of my biggest supporters. I know that no matter what I decide to do, my mother will always be there clapping for me or extending her hand to help pick me up if I fall. My mother’s experience in pharmacy has helped me keep pharmacy in the back of my mind always. Fun fact: I never wanted to be a pharmacist until I started working in a community pharmacy during college.
My family are my biggest supporters and inspiration. I currently live at home with my parents while in pharmacy school and it has been such a blessing to come home after a stressful day and know that I am not doing this just for me. My younger siblings are also an inspiration to me and constantly have my back.
How do you balance your work as a pharmacy intern and your studies?
I won’t lie and say it’s a piece of cake. I work as an intern every weekend and somehow balance school (my Pharm.D. classes and my master’s classes), research, and organization responsibilities. I do it because I truly love it.
My passion for pharmacy has motivated me to advocate on behalf of my profession. My passion for pharmacy is what drives me to stay up late at night and still wake up every morning to do it all over again. I have pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of in pharmacy school. However, every success and every failure has helped me grow. That is what helps me balance everything I do; my continuous growth.
My secrets to balance are my old-school planners and Google Calendar to keep me organized. I color code everything and have lists for everything imaginable. Most importantly, I have to find time for myself to help me balance everything I do. Sometimes that time to myself is still something pharmacy related but when you have the passion for it, the balance is a piece of cake.
You also received one of only 19 national APhA Foundation Scholarships this year, and one of only four APhA student leadership awards conferred this year. What have all these accolades meant to you?
APhA (American Pharmacists Association) has been pivotal in my pharmacy career. I have been involved with APhA since my first year in pharmacy school. I was involved locally at my school’s chapter and then regionally and now I serve as one of five national executive members for APhA-ASP.
The accolades associated with APhA as well as other recognitions such as the SingleCare award mean the absolute world to me. The sense of pride and accomplishment I have felt after receiving these recognitions is overwhelming. I do not like being in the spotlight but especially this past year I have been. It has just shown me that if I work hard for honest reasons that it will pay off. I have been heavily involved during pharmacy school but I did it for myself, my profession and, most importantly, the people in my life and my future patients. These accolades just confirm that I am in the right field and that my hard work is being appreciated. I am very grateful for all the opportunities I have had and I owe these accolades to my support system.
What are your goals for your pharmacy career?
My goal post-graduation is to go into a residency program. I am very interested in ambulatory care and would love to have that direct patient care that is associated with ambulatory pharmacy. I am also pursuing my master’s in pharmacogenomics at Shenandoah via the dual degree program offered. I would like to incorporate my knowledge of pharmacogenomics into providing the best care for my patients. My ultimate goal is to just make a difference in the profession wherever I end up.
Why did you choose to study pharmacy at Shenandoah?
I attended undergrad at a large university, which has its perks, but for a graduate program I was looking for something more personal. I am originally from Northern Virginia but had not considered Shenandoah previously. I had honestly only applied to increase my chances of being accepted into a pharmacy program.
However, my interview at Shenandoah solidified why this program was the best fit for me. I had found a place that was personal, had many opportunities due to the perfect location, and was a program that was continuously trying to improve for its students.
I chose SU because I wanted the best investment for myself.
What are the strengths of Shenandoah’s program? What would you tell prospective students about Shenandoah’s School of Pharmacy?
Shenandoah’s School of Pharmacy prides itself on its dual degree programs as well as the experiential learning opportunities available to students. The faculty at the school are very accomplished and invest in their students. The faculty on both campuses push you to your full potential. The faculty and staff have an open door policy, which makes it very comfortable to go talk to anyone. The school is also an Apple school, which means we are provided with Mac laptops and iPads and Apple pencils to aid in our learning.
The program is technologically advanced as we have two campuses and our professors teach from each campus. Personally, having two campuses is a huge bonus. I attend the Fairfax campus, which has a very different population than the Winchester campus. It is great being able to learn from each other and participate in activities together. The school also has many organizations on campus as well as other opportunities such as scholarships and international trips available.
Overall, I would tell prospective students that if you want to invest in your future, SU is the place for you.