Cool Girls with Tag: pharmacist

Tracy Wiczer

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer with Ariana the bunnyName: Tracy Wiczer
Age: 31
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Occupation: Pharmacist

As a pharmacist specializing in hematology and oncology, Tracy Wiczer’s day-to-day endeavors involve helping to prolong people’s lives, and in her free time, she does the same…only for bunnies!

As a child, Tracy excelled in math and science, but also had a sweet spot for animals, even considering becoming a zoo-keeper for koalas when she grew up. But after her mother’s passing from ovarian cancer when she was only 10 years old, and her father surviving prostate cancer, Tracy knew she wanted to specialize in hematology/oncology as her career path.

“I wanted to be able to improve the lives of patients going through similar times that I experienced with my parents,” she says.

But it wasn’t an easy path. In order to specialize in the field, she needed to complete two additional years of post-graduate training. After completing her second year at The James Cancer Hospital at the Ohio State University, Tracy was offered a position. She’s now a board certified oncology pharmacist, and one of only four pharmacists at The James who specializes in lymphomas, chronic leukemias, multiple myeloma and benign hematology disorders. So what does that entail?

“I work closely with teams consisting of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, case managers and nurses to provide care for patients with blood cancers. My main role is ensuring chemotherapy orders are 100% correct and optimizing supportive care medications. Being part of this team is extremely rewarding and I love interacting with the patients to teach them about what to expect from their chemotherapy or fix any medication related problems they may be having,” she explains.

She also trains pharmacists and researches medications, she’s even had four of her research projects published, and presented one at the American Society of Hematology meeting in December 2016.

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer presenting research paper with partner.

Although her job would seem to be challenging from a scientific perspective, Tracy admits that the most difficult part has nothing really to do with being a pharmacist; it’s largely a financial conundrum.

“The cost of cancer care, chemotherapy in particular, is absolutely mind boggling. Part of my job is to coordinate between the physicians, the people who help with insurance authorizations, our medication assistance department, and pharmacy/hospital administration to make sure medications are affordable for my patients,” she says.

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer's Rescue Bunny WisteriaWhen she’s not brainstorming how to help patients, Tracy hops back to helping her pet cause: rabbit rescue. She spends her time assisting organizations that house and help bunnies, even utilizing the “Bunderground Railroad” rescuer transport to help rabbits find homes when there is no space available anywhere in central Ohio. “I’ve had up to 13 rabbits living in my house because there was simply nowhere for them to go at the time,” she confesses.

“I adopted my first pair of rabbits when I was in college,” she recalls. “Thumper and Muncher were my first bunnies and taught me a lot about rabbits. I discovered Ohio House Rabbit Rescue (OHRR) when I was looking to adopt a rabbit after one of mine passed away. Before this point I didn’t realize that rescuing rabbits was a thing!”

Through OHRR, Tracy learned about “Buncare” volunteering, which she began doing in November of 2014. She fed and cleaned up the litter every Tuesday, and, eventually, she was invited to be a bigger part of their organization by helping catch domestic rabbits that people released into the wild when they no longer wanted to care for them.

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer with a group of volunteers rescuing rabbits in the snow.

“Personally, if you let me “free” into the wild, I would struggle to survive,” Tracy says, “So you can imagine a similar problem for a domestic rabbit!”

Sock It to Me Cool Girl Tracy Wiczer's rescue bunny Tink.She has helped rescue over 60 stray rabbits since July 2016, and also assists in transporting them to vet appointments. For OHRR, Tracy also coordinates their “chillaxabun lounge” at the Midwest Bunfest convention, gives education presentations, helps with adoption events, and plays matchmaker by setting up “bunny bonding,” which is basically matchmaking for rabbits. By partnering with OHRR, the Columbus House Rabbit Society (CHRS), and the local humane society, she’s helped many fuzzy tailed friends find a place they can call home.

So what advice does this rabbit rescuer and patient proponent have for young women leaping into adulthood?

“I was definitely never one of the cool girls as I excelled in school, was a band nerd, and am not especially athletic. It’s 100% ok to be a dork!”

We agree that any dork that helps people and pets live better lives is truly a very Cool Girl!

Help end cancer & support The James: http://pelotonia.org/

Megan C. Valentine-Shafer

Name: Megan C. Valentine-Shafer
Age: 25
Location: Chicopee, MA
Occupation: Licensed Pharmacist, Recent Graduate and currently Job Hunting.

Chicopee, Massachusetts native Megan Valentine-Shafer has always been creative and compassionate. As a child, her mothers fostered her imagination. One of her moms in particular crafted and included her daughter in her creative pursuits.

“Some of my favorite gifts and experiences with her involve either something she made, or something that I helped her make, including things like a wonderfully hand-made dice bag from my table top games, and a quilt made out of my old band t-shirts,” Megan recalls.

As a student, Megan became intrigued by the idea of assisting others, especially in the medical field. But once she figured that out, she also realized her peeves.

“Part way through high school, I found that I really wanted to help people, and that I was interested in going into medicine of some kind. An issue arose, though, when I discovered just how squeamish I was,” she explains. “This lead to me realizing that most of the “well known” medical professions weren’t for me, because I couldn’t handle seeing the sight of viscera.”

But this feisty student didn’t let her dream get discarded. In her junior year, her chemistry teacher also worked as a pharmacist. “It was at that point I realized I had been overlooking a major part of medicine. It was like the angels sang out in an immaculate chorus, that “This is it! This is what I was meant to be! I can help people, and not feel sick to my stomach!”’

Recently Megan graduated school and became a licensed pharmacist, but in spite of the image of a white coat and a smile, Megan’s other identities get a chance to come out and play when she partakes in one of her favorite hobbies: cosplay!

“The summer before I started college, and I went to my first nerd convention, Connecticon. At this point in my life, I hadn’t realized cosplay was an actual thing people did, for fun, and I fell in love with it the moment I stepped through the doors.”

Seven years later, Megan has been cosplaying at almost every con she’s attended, dressing up as characters such as Theresa from the “Fable” video game series, Tsukimi Kurashita from “Princess Jellyfish,” Chiaki Nanami from “DanganRonpa 2,” a blue-team Engineer from “Team Fortress 2,” and the dessert witch “Charlotte” from the series “Puella Magi Madoka Magica.”

Although Megan is currently job hunting in an area that is competitive, and her resources are limited due to this as well as her student loans, she remains optimistic. She’s already writing a list of “to do” cosplay characters for when her financial situation is a bit more flush, and the best part of all is that she’s not doing it alone!

“I also fell in love with my fiance over cosplay, who supports and does this with me as well! We’ve been together for a little over 5 years now.” (Fiance not pictured below.)

Beyond her search for a job and her creative pursuits, Megan keeps her sensitivity and her perspective. To other young women, she offers this advice:

“Keep your aspirations high, and your passions strong. Even if those passions aren’t conventional, or may not be something “feminine” or “ladylike,” keep them as strong as anything, and don’t let anyone get in your way. The world today can put up barriers, make things seem impossible, make goals seem unattainable; keep at it, though. Keep plugging away, at your own pace, so that one day, your dreams will become reality. It won’t always be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.”

For her cosplay creativity and pharmacy prowess, we think Megan Valentine-Shafer is a very Cool Girl!

Courtney Van Nostrand

Name: Courtney Van Nostrand
Age: 35
Location: Long Island, New York
Occupation: Pharmacist

Courtney Van Nostrand does drugs…in a good way! This Long Island pharmacist sympathizes with the difficulties her patients are facing, in part because of her own recently-diagnosed struggle with MS.

Courtney has been a pharmacist for nearly ten years. “Being a pharmacist is hard because you’re constantly torn between having a high work load and wanting to help your patients, which takes time away from production. It’s a constant battle to be quick, accurate, and efficient, and still have time to spend time with them,” she says.

Unfortunately being behind the pharmacy counter isn’t the only familiarity Courtney has had with serious illness. In February of 2010, everything in her life changed.

“I was taking my girls to dance lessons near my home. I was at a traffic light and suddenly everything just started looking double,”

“I was taking my girls to dance lessons near my home. I was at a traffic light and suddenly everything just started looking double,” she explains. “I blew it off thinking it was a headache or the glare from the snow, but it got worse over that weekend. I went to the optometrist thinking maybe my glasses were screwy, and he sent me to the doctor.”

After a series of tests, they recommended an MRI. “They discovered the lesions on my brain,” Courtney says. “Then I went to the neurology clinic at Stony Brook, and they confirmed what the specialist thought…”

It was Multiple Sclerosis, also known as MS.

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