“I moved to the United States from Nigeria when I was seven years old, and when I was about to go to high school, my parents decided I needed to go back to Nigeria. So I did. I went to a boarding school in Nigeria for three years, and I noticed that so many diseases can be prevented by access to healthcare.” Opeyemi Ibrahim dove right into explaining her interest in becoming a pharmacist. Ibrahim, although a long-time Colorado resident and CU Denver graduate, can pinpoint her desire to be a pharmacist to three formidable years in Nigeria.
“In Nigeria, it seems like anyone can prescribe something, anyone can open a ‘pharmacy’ and many people don’t have access to a good, medically-trained pharmacist,” she said.
“There are so many diseases, like heart disease or high blood pressure or diabetes, that have long-term consequences if not treated with the proper medication. But, if someone had access to that medication, they can be okay.”
Ibrahim returned to Colorado after her high school graduation with dreams to be a pharmacist. This May, she graduates with a PharmD from CU Pharmacy, a dream encouraged by watching many friends and relatives graduate from the CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
“I remember watching them at the Anschutz graduation ceremony and I was in awe of all of it,” she said. “When it came time for me to apply to pharmacy school, I didn’t need to leave Colorado. This school is where I knew I wanted to go.”
Already with an interest in preventative care, Ibrahim found a love of managed care and ambulatory care pharmacy while at CU. Managed care pharmacy is the practice of developing and applying evidence-based medication use strategies that enhance member and population health outcomes while optimizing health care resources; ambulatory care practice is the provision of integrated, accessible healthcare services by pharmacists who are accountable for addressing medication needs, developing sustained partnerships with patients, and practicing in the context of family and community.
Helping Ibrahim along the way was CU’s world-class medical campus, with access to clubs, communities, and thought leaders who encouraged her to collaborate with her peers and medical students across campus.
“I most enjoyed the access that CU’s campus offered,” she said.
“I had so many options to get involved and learn more about a specialty field. I became involved in the school’s Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, I was involved in the National Community Pharmacy Association, I was able to get involved and get experience.”
“Dr. [Katy] Trinkley was also so helpful in taking time to talk to me about her work, and helping me explore interests,” Ibrahim said. “I never felt held back at CU, I could always learn more.”
Trinkley, PharmD, PhD, is an associate professor whose research focuses on leveraging data and implementation science to create innovative health information technologies to optimize safe and effective medication use, something Ibrahim felt would be important in her goal to practice managed care pharmacy.
After graduation, Ibrahim will begin a post-graduate year 1 (PGY1) residency in managed care at Envolve Pharmacy Solutions in Tampa, Florida. Accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists in partnership with the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, this residency is designed to prepare residents for a pharmacy career within a dynamic managed care environment.
Eventually, Ibrahim would like to go back to Nigeria and open her own pharmacy.
“In many African countries, anyone can say ‘take this, or use this’ and no one would question it,” she said. “I have a passion to help with developing pharmacies that can be accessible and beneficial to people, and now I have a doctoral degree to do it.”