#UMMCGrad18: As technician, pharmacy graduate learns profession first
Published on Monday, May 21, 2018
By: Annie Oeth
When Elizabeth Hargrove decided to study pharmacy at the University of Mississippi, she entered the program more familiar with the profession than most.
The Grenada resident, armed with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Tougaloo College, began studying for a master’s degree in forensics in 2007.
“I hated it,” she said.
From there, she got a job as a pharmacy technician.
“I just planned to work until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “While working in that position, I found that I really loved it, so I decided to go to pharmacy school.”
Deciding to attend the University of Mississippi was easy, Hargrove said.
“I knew I wanted to stay in the state, so UM was the choice for me.”
Dr. Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean for clinical affairs and director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Science in the School of Pharmacy, said Hargrove will be a pharmacist who makes a difference for patients and for coworkers.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Liz and to see her success in our program,” Ross said. “She always has a smile on her face and it is evident that she cares about those around her.
"I am confident she will provide excellent patient care and her positivity will continue to brighten the days of those with whom she interacts for years to come.”
Hargrove worked as a pharmacy technician in retail and hospital settings for seven years, including the years she spent earning a bachelor of science degree in pharmaceutical sciences. She graduated with the degree from Ole Miss in 2015.
She said working as a pharmacy technician “helped me tremendously throughout my pharmacy school career. I already knew I was passionate about the field and I was already familiar with medications and how a pharmacy operates.
"I also had a working knowledge of what pharmacy is all about. I think all of those things are very important.”
Hargrove said she knew well the role of a pharmacy technician will help her as a practicing pharmacist.
“How pharmacists treat and interact with their technicians is critical to outcomes. I will always strive to have the best relationships I can with my technicians.”
She said being able to put knowledge to work in the surrounding area has been a key part of her studies in the School of Pharmacy.
“What I have enjoyed most is being able to apply what we have learned and use it to give back to the community through initiatives that UMMC offers, such as the Jackson Free Clinic, Dental Mission Week and Caring Hands Free Clinic,” she said. “It is so rewarding.”
During Hargrove’s studies, her mother, Diane, battled endometrial cancer.
“During my third year of the professional program, which is by far the hardest, my mother was diagnosed with endometria cancer,” she said. “There were definitely times that I felt down, anxious and overwhelmed while trying to manage my schoolwork, workload and chemo/radiation with my mother.
"It was a difficult time, but God is faithful. I made it, and my mother is now cancer-free.”
Ross said Hargrove faced those difficulties with grace.
“She has not only had academic achievements, she has also demonstrated strong leadership in her service in professional organizations,” Ross said. “Despite any challenge, she has approached her work with a positive attitude and encouraged others.”
Hargrove still had time to serve her classmates and school as Associated Student Body elections chair and as senior events coordinator for the community service organization Prescription for Service.
She now serves as vice president of the pharmacy leadership organization Phi Lambda Sigma and is a member of the American Pharmacists’ Association, the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, the Mississippi Pharmacists Association and the Magnolia Pharmaceutical Society.
After graduation, Hargrove plans to stay the course.
“I have been serving the community through Walmart for more than 10 years as a technician and then as an intern, so I signed on with Walmart as a pharmacist.”