A student's reflection on his College of Pharmacy experience: How firm thy friendship

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May 14, 2018

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Rutvik Joshi, PharmD, a 2018 graduate of The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, was named the college’s recipient of the Stephen W. Birdwell Student Award and the Faculty Award for Outstanding Graduating PharmD Student.

The Stephen W. Birdwell Student Award is awarded to a student who shows leadership among their peers, demonstrates congeniality and service within the college community, and contributes to esprit de corps within the college. The Faculty Award for Outstanding Graduating PharmD Student of the Year is selected by the faculty and awarded to the overall outstanding student. These are two of the most prestigious awards that the college gives to graduates – it is very unusual for them to both be given to one student.

One of Joshi’s classmates that nominated him for the Stephen W. Birdwell Student Award said in her nomination, “Rutvik is a leader within our class, both in formal positions as well as the way he interacts with and is respected by his peers. He is well liked by all because of his caring personality and sincere interest in his classmates' wellbeing. He is someone I am proud to call my classmate and my friend.”

Joshi is from Valsad, a small town located on the west side of India. He received his bachelor of pharmacy in India in 2009 and moved to California with his family shortly thereafter. Joshi came to Ohio State in 2014 to start the PharmD program and has been a model student and Buckeye ever since.

We sat down with Dr. Rutvik Joshi to find out why he chose a profession in pharmacy and specifically, why he chose Ohio State:

Why were you interested in becoming a pharmacist?
“When I was younger, one of my family members experienced a tragedy related to an adverse drug effect that could have been avoided if a pharmacist was involved in their care. I knew right then that I wanted to contribute to patients’ health care and prevent that from happening to anyone else. When I was an undergraduate student in India, I was exposed to all of the things that a pharmacist can do and interested in the expanded role PharmDs have. So, even though I already knew that becoming a pharmacist is what I wanted to do, it was really reinforced by learning more about the profession.”

Will you talk about your decision to come to Ohio State?
“My experience at interview day for the PharmD program made me instantly feel connected to the school. The interactions I had with faculty members and members of the Student Affairs Office felt natural and more like conversations to get to know me as a person, not just as a student. I really felt like I would be supported well here – I didn’t even know the college’s ranking at that point, but faculty members like Kathy Kelley, Associate Dean for Assessment and Strategic Initiatives, were incredibly welcoming and made the decision really easy. I can’t say enough about my interview day.”

Tell me about your experience as a student here.
“Well my first year was a shock – it was my first time at a large university in the United States, so I was just trying to learn how to do everything I needed to and make friends. During my second year, I ran for (and successfully was elected) as Class of 2018 vice president. I also served on the Honor Council. Later that year, I was elected president of Phi Lambda Sigma, the pharmacy leadership society, and Rho Chi, the pharmacy academic honor society. During all of these commitments, I was able to be around my friends so it made the work really fun.

Even though I was involved with so many organizations, my friend came to me during my second year and asked if I would lead the Ohio State team they were putting together to enter the 2017 Innovative Pharmacy Business Plan Competition (IPBPC) at The Ohio Pharmacists Association Annual Meeting. Ohio State had not entered in a few years, and the group (under the mentorship of Professor Donnie Sullivan), wanted to start the tradition at Ohio State again. I immediately agreed and we ended up placing second in the state!

Working in all of the organizations allowed me to work closely with my professors and get to know them. I now view many of them as mentors who I know that I could go to even after graduation for advice – and that’s exactly what I felt about Ohio State on interview day. It wasn’t just about teaching for the professors, it was about connecting – servant leadership. The faculty here are incredible.”

What do you think about the students picking you for the Stephen W. Birdwell Student Award?
"The kind of students that we have at the College of Pharmacy are different. They are incredibly supportive, very collaborative and they want to see their classmates succeed. When I have gone to pharmacy conferences around the country, it isn’t always like that at other schools, so I feel very lucky to have the classmates I do. This collaboration is modeled by our faculty – we are consistently doing teamwork and are told to help each other, so we just continued to do it.

I was at a conference once where there was a company offering an invite-only reception that many students, including me, wanted to go to and learn more. I didn’t get an invite, but my friend did. She knew how badly I wanted to go, so even though she could have taken a date or one of her friends, she took me instead because she knew it meant a lot to me. That’s the kind of students that come to Ohio State – people who think of others. There is this incredible mutual respect among the students and for the students by the faculty members.

If I had to do it all again – pick a pharmacy program anywhere in the country, I wouldn’t change a thing about my time here at Ohio State.”

Joshi is moving to Salt Lake City, Utah this summer to complete a PGY1 pharmacy practice residency at the University of Utah. Next year, Joshi hopes to complete a PGY2 either in medication use safety or a program with medication safety component in it.