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April 2022 OPA Extern Profile: Laura Heckenmueller

Name: Laura Heckenmueller                                                               Laura Heckenmueller                       


Pharmacy School: University of Toledo

Undergraduate degree/institution: Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences / University of Toledo

Rotation Month at OPA: April 2022

How did you get interested in the profession of pharmacy?
I originally decided that I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy after attending the Pharmacy Camp at the University of Toledo as an incoming high school senior. When our small group leader talked about how pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare workers and have an opportunity to make a direct impact on my patients’ lives, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in pharmacy. After completing my APPE rotations in the inpatient setting, I grew to appreciate the role that clinical pharmacists serve on the healthcare team. Serving as the medication expert and remaining detail-oriented when looking through patient charts is something that really interests me.

Why did you choose OPA as a rotation site?
In 2020, I attended the OPA Student Legislative Day on a whim when I heard that some of my friends were going, and I am so glad I did! That day, I was able to learn more about current legislative issues regarding pharmacy and to hear some fellow pharmacy students at the University of Toledo speak to our legislators about these issues. It really opened my eyes to what an impact a single conversation about patient care experiences can have on progressing pharmacy legislature. OPA gives pharmacists a voice at the state congressional level, and I am very thankful for their efforts. This experience led me to choose OPA as a rotation site to learn more about all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on in running an association and advocating for our profession.

What was your favorite event at the OPA Annual Conference?
I am so grateful for the opportunity to expand my knowledge on current state laws and new drugs at the OPA Annual Conference through CE sessions such as the Student Law Review and New Drug Update 2022. However, my favorite event at the Conference this year had to be the Pharmacy Student Olympics. This event took place at Barley’s Brewing Company across the street from the convention center and offered a warm atmosphere for networking with fellow students and recent graduates. I was able to reconnect with Emmanuel Ayanjoke, a University of Toledo Pharmacy alumnus. The Student Olympics is definitely an event you don’t want to miss, with awesome food and games to test your pharmacy knowledge and puzzle skills! 

What was the most significant or surprising experience at OPA?
The most significant experience at OPA was being able to present on medication safety to 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade students. I addressed topics such as the pharmacy career, types of medicine, poison safety, and making safe choices. This experience was so meaningful to me because I was able to express my passion for pharmacy to a young group of learners, some of whom may be future pharmacists. Educating the public on medication and poison safety can save lives, especially the younger population, and I am grateful to be part of such a trusted profession.

Why I think it’s important to maintain my OPA membership after graduation.
Besides being part of such an important organization that advocates on your behalf, there are so many resources available through OPA that I had no knowledge of prior to starting this rotation. There are resources on continuing education, collaborative practice agreements, access to the Ohio Pharmacist journal, and so much more! The New Practitioner Experience (NPX) Committee provides more opportunities such as the Emerging Pharmacy Leaders Conference and NPX Lunch + Learns. Pharmacy is such a small world, and networking at events such as OPA Annual Conferences can truly make a positive impact on your future career.

What other pharmacy associations/organizations do you belong to?
I belong to the co-ed professional pharmacy fraternity Alpha Zeta Omega, the Student National Pharmaceutical Association, and the pharmacy honor society Rho Chi.

In my free time, I enjoy taking walks through Metroparks, dancing at Zumba classes, catching up with friends over a cup of coffee, and playing board and card games with family.

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