Student Spotlight: Kristine Pisikian

Meet second-year PharmD student Kristine Pisikian, who as a contributing writer at GoodRx, authors articles on the importance of legislative advocacy, value-based care, healthcare disparities, and more. Here, this first-generation Armenian American shares what attracted her to pharmacy and how she hopes to embark on a nontraditional pharmacy career path.

What attracted you to the field of pharmacy? Any particular moment(s) that made you stop and think, “This is the path I want to take?”

I had always been attracted to the field pharmacy precisely for its imperfection: interindividual differences in treatment response, medication-related issues during care transitions, problems with patient access to expensive medications, medication errors, the list goes on. These gaps in our current healthcare system ignited a passion within me to gain an understanding of all perspectives—patient, provider, pharmacy, pharmaceutical industry, and payer. By gaining insight into these perspectives, I could use my skill set as a future PharmD to have a tangible impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery in the pharmacy space and ultimately improve patient health outcomes.

Why did you choose USC Mann and what’s one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at the school so far?

One of the main reasons why I chose USC School of Pharmacy was the opportunity to be mentored and led by creative and innovative pharmacists who were shaping the system by creating new solutions to address gaps in care, especially for vulnerable populations. Another big reason was definitely the variety of student-led pharmacy organizations—each organization was led by peers who genuinely love what they represent and love making an impact in our communities. 

Joining the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) as one of four First Year Representatives has to be the highlight of my experience at USC so far. Whether it be the sense of support, being surrounded by students who share a common passion for the mission of AMCP, participating in networking events and site visits, the Medicare Part D enrollment week with USC retirees, Pharmacy & Therapeutics Competition and more, every experience with AMCP has been more memorable than the last.

What has been a positive for you being on the front lines during the pandemic? What have you learned? What has been memorable?

During this pandemic, it has been incredible witnessing how crucial it is for pharmacists to define their value and position themselves as highly skilled, educated, and accessible healthcare providers who can make a huge impact in COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts. With more and more vaccine-related misinformation circulating, it is our responsibility as pharmacists to mitigate this fear and empower our patients with helpful, reliable information.

You’re a contributing writer at GoodRx, an American healthcare company that operates a telemedicine platform. Can you share about your experience and some recent articles you’re most proud of?

Joining GoodRx as a writer happened pretty serendipitously! I was recruited from my own healthcare and pharmacy related blog that I founded during my gap year before starting pharmacy school. My love for writing and engaging with an online community translated into my current role at GoodRx where I write about topics like legislative advocacy, value-based care, healthcare disparities, and more. 

The article that was the most meaningful to me was one I wrote back in August 2020 with my USC School of Pharmacy classmate Filmon Haile. In the interview piece, we discussed the realities of structural racism in our U.S. healthcare system, the history of healthcare-related distrust within marginalized communities, and imagining a more equitable future for patients. I’ve also written articles about the student perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic, shifting current community pharmacy models to more outcome-oriented models, virtual interview tips and tricks, and more.   

What are your career aspirations? 

At my core I am seeking a more non-traditional pharmacy pathway rooted in the overall goal to work alongside mission-oriented people who care about improving patient health outcomes and access to care at the population health level. Whether that’s by continuing to work with health tech organizations, within health policy and outcomes research, or clinical pharmacy practice with vulnerable populations—I hope my career path is filled with variety. Perhaps I can create a path that might not even exist yet! Immediately after graduating from USC School of Pharmacy, though, I would like to pursue post-graduate training with a managed care pharmacy residency or industry fellowship within medical communications or health economics and outcomes research. 

What’s a fun fact about you that most people don’t know about?

A lot of my close friends and family know this about me, but I love stopping to admire and take photos of uniquely colored, patterned, tiny flowers. I could be walking in the middle of a four-way intersection, but if I see a cute little magical looking flower, I will stop completely and admire it. Here are some of my favorites: