Prioritizing interests helps BSPS student work toward a successful career in pharmacy

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October 1, 2021

Joey Ricchezza
News Story Content

College of Pharmacy Student Spotlight:
Joey Ricchezza, BSPS Class of 2022

The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy is shining a spotlight on students throughout the year. Meet Joey Ricchezza, a fourth-year student in the Bachelor of Science of Pharmaceutical Sciences (BSPS) program.

Ricchezza’s diverse academic- and student-involvement experiences are shaping a promising path toward pharmacy school and a career in psychiatric pharmacy.

Can you tell us about your background?

I am currently a senior in the BSPS program from Sewell, New Jersey, which is close to the Philadelphia area.

Why did you decide to enroll in the BSPS program?

I originally began as a biochemistry major on the pre-med track in my first semester but after speaking with advisors and learning more about the BSPS program, I decided that it would be a better fit for me.

I found the degree to be more specialized in what I enjoy learning and I felt that the small size gave me a community-based environment where everyone knows and supports each other with similar goals.

What are your goals after graduating?

I am currently in the process of applying to pharmacy school. I’m not sure exactly what kind of pharmacist I hope to be, but I am most interested in either psychiatric, hospital or ambulatory pharmacy.

I have a passion for fighting against the opioid epidemic and helping those who may be addicted to other substances such as nicotine or alcohol. Additionally, I enjoy learning about patients who are in critical or intensive care units and finding ways to help them.

I hope that through the courses I take in pharmacy school and the rotations I participate in, I will get a better sense of what specific field I want to pursue.

Why are you interested in these aspects of pharmacy?

There’s been a lot of things that have pushed me in this direction but I’m still keeping my mind open. I have always enjoyed face-to-face contact with patients, which has pushed me into the health care area of pharmacy rather than industry.

Many of the courses I took in undergrad, such as Psychology 1100, Pharmacoethics (PHR 3500) and Addicting Drugs (PHR 2400), all helped me understand both the pharmaceutical field and what I liked about it. These courses heavily emphasized topics such as substance abuse, illicit drugs, addiction and the opioid crisis, which I found to be interesting.

I also had a research position during the summer after my freshman year that dealt with patients who had schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease. I found anything related to psychiatric illness fascinating. I am excited to see where the new things that I learn in pharmacy school take me.

What other extracurriculars do you participate in?

I worked at OhioHealth Riverside Hospital as a general member for about three years. I helped to discharge patients and did some administrative work. I had a great experience and it gave me an opportunity to have contact with patients and exposure to the health care industry.

I have been involved with University Student Government (USG) since my first semester, where I served as an off-campus deputy director and a co-recruitment coordinator. Most of my job consisted of meeting with administrators who dealt with off-campus safety and outreach. I also conducted information sessions for prospective members.

For this next year, I’ll be serving as an admin and mentor in an organic chemistry mentorship program that was set up last year. I will pair students who took the course last year with students who are taking it this year. The goal is to have the mentors teach their mentees/students good studying habits and how to prepare for exams.

Lastly, I am a student employee at Jesse Owens North, which was converted from a recreational gym facility to a COVID-19 testing site. It has been a lot of fun to work here and I know that I am making a difference in tackling the pandemic every time I clock in.

Joey Ricchezza

How have these experiences enriched your time at Ohio State?

I love Ohio State because it is so big and there are so many opportunities available. Being able to choose these organizations and employment opportunities from such a wide range of options was great and helped make my experience at Ohio State unique. I was able to meet and surround myself with like-minded people and meet a lot of good friends that I will have for the rest of my life.

I also enjoy my time here because of my professors and the administrators I get to talk to every day. The relationships that I developed from being involved as a student here will last a lifetime, which speaks to the great network and alumni at the College of Pharmacy.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

I love this question because there’s a lot of things I could say here, but the No. 1 thing for me is to not be afraid to say no. What I mean by this is when you say no, you can prioritize what you are already doing and you’re able do other things that truly interest you.

It is super important to prioritize what extracurriculars you think are important in addition to your schooling and internships. Especially in the first year, when you must focus on keeping up your GPA and building connections with your peers.

Whatever organizations you join, make sure you do it with passion and be as involved as you can be. Go to all the events and try earning leadership roles. You will get so much more fulfillment from the relationships and skills you gain from being involved.