My UMSOP Story: Mojdeh Heavner, PharmD ’08, BCPS, BCCCP, associate professor

Mojdeh Heavner, PharmD ’08, BCPS, BCCCP, graduated from the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and is now on faculty as an associate professor and vice chair for clinical services in the Department of Practice, Sciences, and Health Outcomes Research. She is also the program coordinator for the pharmacotherapy residency program.

What was your path to pharmacy school?

My interest in health care in general started at an early age. I required emergency surgery as a young kid that led to some complications and kind of a prolonged hospitalization. I turned out okay and everything was fine, but it opened my eyes to health care in general.

It wasn’t until undergrad, getting my degree in physiology and neurobiology, that I really explored what that meant in terms of the opportunities that were available to me within health care but also in other areas. I had a cousin that was a pharmacist and she practiced in the area of industry and oncology. She was really what opened my eyes to the field of pharmacy as an option for me, and that led to me pursuing this dream of being a pharmacist.

What was your experience like as a student at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy?

What I really enjoyed during my time here at the University of Maryland was the relationships that I developed, both with my classmates as well as the faculty, and those are relationships that I’ve carried forward throughout my career. I find that if I reach out to any of my classmates even now, that we would do anything for each other. We collaborate on projects, presentations, and other things even now. I also had a really great relationship with faculty at the time that has carried forward as well. I was able to learn so much from their example during my time here at the School and really look up to them as role models for what I wanted to be in the future, which then ultimately led to me coming back to the School to work as a faculty member.

What was your career path following pharmacy school?

After I completed my residencies [in pharmacy practice and critical care and solid organ transplant specialty at Yale-New Haven Hospital], I had the opportunity to work in the medical ICU. I absolutely loved that path and was excited to see all of the initiatives that I was able to lead and the impact that had on patient care, but I was interested in the teaching and research aspects as well. That was an element that, at least in a formal sense, was missing from my career trajectory. I was given the opportunity to come back to the School of Pharmacy and serve as an assistant professor. I was really excited to pursue that career shift and shift my interests more from hospital practice and hospital administration to academia.

What are the biggest benefits of attending and working at UMSOP?

I think I’ve had a unique perspective because I have been able to watch the School’s evolution over the last two decades when I was here as a student, then when I had the chance to observe the changes from afar as I pursued other career opportunities, and now over the last seven years since I’ve been here as a faculty member. I’m so inspired by the forward-thinking approach that the School of Pharmacy leadership has taken to developing our curriculum and pathways for students to pursue their own dreams within pharmacy.

I think the pharmacy profession is at such a great crossroads right now where we have tremendous opportunities to think about what our skillsets will be used for in the future as the landscape evolves for practice, business, and industry. I think the School has great opportunities for students to pursue interests in a variety of areas that match up well with the opportunities that might be afforded to them in their careers.

What advice would you give to a prospective or current student? 

The advice I would give is don’t limit yourself in terms of the chances that you take in your career, think big, continue to explore different opportunities, and maximize your learning. Always think about the fact that ultimately the pharmacy profession exists because of patients and that everything we do, whether that is development of new business models or technical devices that assist with health care delivery or research to promote science around health care, ultimately there’s a patient at the end of that. If students are coming into their career and deciding what they want to do with that in mind, I think they can’t go wrong. They’ll certainly make choices that will be consistent with their own values and their goals will come to fruition. I would advocate for the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy any day because I know that the opportunities that we provide our students are really top notch, and we equip our students with the skills and knowledge that they need to essentially go into anything that they might be interested in.

About the PharmD program: Based in downtown Baltimore, the PharmD at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy combines basic and applied science as well as an in-depth therapeutics course of study to provide future generations of pharmacists with the knowledge and skills needed to be essential contributors in the dynamic health care arena. Learn more and apply today

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