What are you currently doing as a pharmacy professional and how did you progress to where you are today?
Richard Dziallo, PharmD '18
I am currently pharmacy manager at Stride's Wheat Ridge location. They are a Federally Qualified Health Center providing primary care and health related services in a community-based setting. Essentially, providing affordable and accessible medical, behavioral, pharmaceutical, and dental care to the low income, uninsured, and underserved populations residing in the city and county of Denver and the surrounding areas.
What is different about the person you are today compared to the person you were while in school?
The person I am today certainly had more free time before having a 1-year-old! Joking aside, I've evolved and become a much more confident pharmacist from when I first started. Experience is a great teacher, and as I became more confident stepping out of my comfort zone professionally it helped me grow both personally and professionally.
What has been a defining moment for you as a seasoned professional?
The moment that defined me as a seasoned professional would be the COVID outbreak. I've lived in the Denver metro my whole life, and it was surreal seeing no cars on Wadsworth Boulevard as I headed in to work to open the pharmacy in early 2020. As the pandemic progressed, I had to help develop brand new processes to help the community like the nasal swabbing test site in Westminster, teach technicians how to give vaccines, and logistics related to the newly (at the time) developed COVID vaccine. It really put my skills to the test as a professional.
What inspired you to attend the CU Pharmacy program and what was your experience while in the program?
I made a promise to my dad when I was in my teens that I would be the first in my family to earn a doctorate degree, and when I applied for pharmacy programs what really stood out to me about CU's program was the integration with the other professional programs. I enjoyed a lot of the program, and we regularly interacted with the medical, nursing, physical therapy, and dental students, and it made me feel like we were one health team. The most memorable experiences would be with all of my friends that I made in class. We all shared a general camaraderie working away in pharmacotherapy courses, and the friends that I made in the program are people I still regularly talk to and interact with today.
What is your proudest moment and your favorite thing about working in the pharmacy profession, and how are you making a difference in your career?
My proudest moment is when after a long shift at work, I drove to pick up some fast food, exhausted from a 13-hour shift, and one of my patients was also at the restaurant, and he said, "Hey, Rich thanks for everything you do. I've seen you walking around the hood, and you make us proud that you came from here." About a year ago he had an adverse reaction to a diabetes medication, and I helped identify that another provider he had seen prescribed essentially the same exact thing, and I made the difference and saved his life. When you make such a large impact on the people in your community where you make their day or their lives better, it's incredibly rewarding and the best part of pharmacy.
I am making a difference in my career by working on numerous projects that can expand the scope of practice within pharmacy. This includes finding ways to step up and work outside my comfort zone.
What sage advice would you pass on to current and future students that was helpful for you in preparing for the job market?
First, take the time to really learn the material that the school teaches you. You cannot know everything and perfectly recall it to apply it to every clinical situation, but school will help you figure out how to find the answer and teach you how to make good clinical judgements. This component along with intern experience during school will take you from being a good pharmacist to a great pharmacist. Second, take the time to become friends with your classmates and professors. Pharmacy is a small world where everyone knows everybody. You never know when an opportunity comes up and you happen to be the right person, at the right place, at the right time. Third, be flexible and willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Pharmacy changes all the time, there will be all kinds of special projects or tasks available that can teach you brand new skills. This helps distinguish you as a student or pharmacist, and you may be able to carve out your own role based on projects you have worked on. Finally, never give up! There are so many different roles that you can play as a pharmacist, do not be discouraged because you did not get the job or residency spot you wanted right off the bat.