Shenandoah University Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy student Lora-Maria Koytcheva ’19, ’22 has come full circle with a fourth-year rotation at the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which is where she truly began developing her interest in pharmacy as a middle-school volunteer.
However, the clinic wasn’t her first exposure to pharmacy – that occurred at age 9. “My great aunt lives in Bulgaria and owns a pharmacy there. I traveled during school summer breaks, and would ask to visit and help her at the pharmacy each day. I was fascinated by her work and her role as a medical professional in the community. From that moment, I decided that I wanted to pursue the same career,” Koytcheva said.
Then, in sixth grade, she wrote a career essay expressing her desire to be a pharmacist. Soon after, she started volunteering at the free clinic’s pharmacy.
“I would spend nearly all of my school winter and summer breaks volunteering there, and the staff quickly became like my second family! They knew I had a strong passion for the career and supported me throughout my academics,” Koytcheva said. “I remain an active volunteer, and am nearing 800 hours of service.”
Even with so much pharmacy experience in her past, Koytcheva said that it feels almost unreal to be so close to fulfilling her almost lifelong dream of becoming a pharmacist. “It has been a long road of schooling, but it has been so worth it. I am very grateful to my great aunt for inspiring me, to the free clinic staff for supporting me and to my family for sticking by my side and motivating me to pursue my dream! I am so excited to graduate and finally be able to call myself a pharmacist!”
Her goals after graduation include pursuing a two-year residency in ambulatory care, which also connects back to her experiences so far. “I have a strong passion for clinical work and hope to one day work as an ambulatory care pharmacist,” she said.