Commencement spotlight: Paige Tulcewicz
NEOMED’s 2023 Commencement Ceremony will be held Saturday, May 6, at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. Among the graduating class is Paige Tulcewicz of Brook Park, Ohio, who will earn her Pharm.D. degree.
A first-generation college student and the first in her family to pursue a career in the health professions, Paige Tulcewicz decided as a freshman in high school that she was going to be a Doctor of Pharmacy.
“I was a part of a four-year biomedical sciences course where we learned about various health care professionals. This is where I learned about the field of pharmacy and fell in love,” she recalled. “I have always had a strong interest in science, and enjoyed the patient care portion that the field of pharmacy offers. Pharmacists are an integral part of the health care team and play a very important role when assessing a patient’s medication therapy regimen as a part of their overall health.”
In her sophomore year of high school, Tulcewicz joined an Honors Program Fellowship at Cuyahoga Community College, where she eventually completed the necessary pre-requisites required before matriculating to NEOMED in 2019.
Why did she choose NEOMED?
“After doing my research on which school to attend, I knew I did not want to attend a 0-6 program and I knew I wanted to stay in Ohio. This made NEOMED the perfect option for me!” she enthused.
While her decision to pursue a career in pharmacy came to her at a young age, Tulcewicz grew up thinking she wanted to be a teacher.
“I would often play ‘teacher’ with my friends in elementary school!” she said, adding, “The cool part about becoming a pharmacist is that I am still able to act as a teacher to pharmacy students, other health care professionals and community members. I also have the opportunity to teach at a college of pharmacy in the future.”
As a NEOMED student, Tulcewicz was active in a long list of campus organizations, including Rho Chi, the international honor society for pharmacy, the Student-Run Free Clinic, Phi Lambda Sigma Pharmacy Leadership Society (PLS), the Geriatric Interest Group, the Akron Children’s Buddy Program through the Oncology Interest Group, Ohio College of Clinical Pharmacy, Ohio Society of Health-System Pharmacists, American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, American Pharmacist Association (APhA), and the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SSHP). She was also a student ambassador, a peer mentor and tutor, and worked on the Script Your Future campaign.
“I cannot imagine my pharmacy school experience without my involvement in student organizations,” she said. “[It] without a doubt enhanced my student experience at NEOMED.”
Her experience at the Student-Run Free Clinic, where Tulcewicz began volunteering during her first semester at NEOMED, stands out as the most memorable among her volunteer and leadership activities.
“I worked with medicine students to care for patients, providing insight on medication recommendations. Throughout my administrative roles within the clinic, I have helped create new services to better serve the patients at the clinic, including a drive-thru flu shot clinic for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “The clinic offers an exceptional learning environment while giving back to the members of our community.”
Tulcewicz took full advantage of the extracurricular and cocurricular opportunities provided at NEOMED.
“My favorite thing about NEOMED is the sheer number of opportunities that are offered to students,” she said. “There are so many ways to get involved with internships, networking events and community service. NEOMED also does a great job of holding campus wide events for students — such as Charity Ball and De-Stress Fest.
“My favorite memory at NEOMED was the Halloween party hosted by the Geriatric Interest Group during my first year of pharmacy school. The event involved inviting residents from a local nursing home to NEOMED to paint/carve pumpkins, color Halloween-themed pictures, enjoy each other’s company, and dance to Halloween music. It was such a well-organized event that resulted in so many happy nursing home residents,” she recalled.
While she is anxious to begin the next stage in her career, she will miss her time at NEOMED.
“I am so grateful for the experiences I was awarded during my time at NEOMED. I could not be more proud to call NEOMED my alma mater,” she said. “I have made so many meaningful connections throughout my four years here. While I am going to miss attending NEOMED as a student, I am thankful for the lifelong connection I have with the University and how well NEOMED has prepared me for my career as a pharmacist.”
In June 2023, the newly hooded Dr. Tulcewicz will head to Gainesville, Florida, to begin a PGY-1 residency at HCA Florida North Florida Hospital.
“I chose to pursue residency very early on in pharmacy school,” she said. “I want to provide the best care possible to my patients while working at the top of my license. I have an interest in various clinical areas of pharmacy such as geriatrics and ambulatory care. Completing a residency will ensure I have the confidence and skillset to take on a highly clinical role in the future.”
She later plans to pursue a PGY-2 residency in geriatrics or ambulatory care.
“I also have the goal of becoming a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist as well as a board-certified geriatric pharmacist. My end career goal is to be working as a clinical geriatric pharmacist while teaching at a college of pharmacy,” she said.
“I also hope to own as many mini-dachshunds and corgis as possible,” she added with a smile.
ADVICE FOR FIRST-YEAR PHARMACY STUDENTS
“My advice [for first-year students] is simply to enjoy your time,” said Tulcewicz. “I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in studying for exams and preparing for pharmacy skills assessments but take time to do things that you enjoy. Whether that be watching your favorite TV show, going out to eat with friends or getting involved in student organizations. Take time to do things you enjoy.”
She added, “Burnout is very prevalent in all health care careers, so if you find yourself experiencing burnout, remind yourself why you chose to go to pharmacy school. Remind yourself of all the patients you will impact in your career and how many lives you will change. Also, know that there are many resources at NEOMED such as counseling services that are there to help you combat burnout.”
ADVICE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS CONSIDERING A PHARMACY CAREER
“For pre-pharmacy students, my advice would be to become a pharmacy technician first, either in retail or in a hospital,” she counseled. “Doing this first will give you an insight into what the career looks like and if this is something you can see yourself doing.”
She also encourages prospective pharmacists to engage in pre-pharmacy opportunities.
“The [College of Pharmacy Office of Student Success has many resources to help pre-pharmacy students decide if pharmacy is the right field for them. There are opportunities to join a pre-pharmacy club as well as set up shadowing experiences with pharmacy students or practicing pharmacists through the Office of Student Success,” she shared.