Since the age of 17, one way or another, pharmacy has been a part of Blake Bruce’s life.
In high school, the Wellington, Ohio native began working at a local Discount Drug Mart as a pharmacy technician. Throughout the years, he progressed through the business and eventually worked at the corporate level as a trainer, traveling across the state of Ohio.
“While I was out on the road training these stores on a new software rollout, I worked with technicians and pharmacists, and realized pharmacy was what I wanted to do. It was an epiphany of sorts. I realized it’s been in front of me since I was 17 years old and just never gave it any thought,” says Bruce.
Now, as a rising third-year Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy student, Bruce is finding ways to use his prior experience through the REDIzone® Future MedTech Entrepreneur Internship, a new program supported by a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. The internship provides medical, pharmacy, business and law students opportunities to learn from regional experts in medical innovation.
Over two months this summer, Bruce and the seven other interns will attend two weeks of in-class instruction and discussions with experts in medical innovation and commercialization. They’ll review actual competitive early-stage medical technology presentations as if they were members of a review committee and present their findings to the investment committee. Finally, they’ll work in teams to identify promising technologies from the region and pitch the technology to Northeast Ohio economic development professionals.
“Not to be corny, but I’ve already got my return on investment on the program. The guest speakers have been amazing. You don’t have opportunities like this every day to sit down and have face-to-face conversations with these brilliant minds. I have a desire for knowledge and I’ve learned so much in a short amount of time, which you don’t usually get that opportunity, especially for free,” says Bruce.
Between the REDIzone® Future MedTech Entrepreneur Internship and a number of student organizations, including NEOMED’s Student Council, American Pharmacists Association and Christian Medical Association, Bruce is finding his niche at NEOMED — but it hasn’t always been easy.
Bruce comes to NEOMED as a first-generation student — his mother, a cashier at Discount Drug Mart and his father, a factory worker. Making the transition from his initial academic goal (studying nursing) to enrolling in pharmacy school wasn’t the easiest, but Bruce says he’s always up for a challenge — especially as he looks forward to his third year of pharmacy school.
“I’m excited for next year. I know it’s not going to be easy, but that’s one thing I appreciate. NEOMED’s curriculum isn’t the easiest, but it’s definitely pushed me and made me not only a better student, but a better person.”