Meet Thanhmai Le, third-year PharmD student and vice president of the Rho Chi Society, a national pharmacy academic honor society. Here, Thanhmai shares how her aunt, an alumnus of USC Mann, inspired her to pursue a career in healthcare, how she manages a healthy work-school-life balance, and the hands-on experiences she’s gained through her internships and recent Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) rotation.
How did you become interested in science and a career in healthcare?
My dad is a mechanical engineer and my mom is a respiratory therapist. Additionally, my aunt, Van Mai, graduated from USC Mann with her PharmD in 2004, and I was inspired by her academic journey and how her career has flourished as a pharmacist.
Tell us more about your involvement with Rho Chi Society.
Rho Chi Society is a national pharmacy academic honor society that offers academic support to students in each PharmD class. All PharmD candidates selected for membership must have completed at least 50% of the didactic coursework of the curriculum and be among the top 20% of their class.
Looking back on my P1 year, I remember being incredibly overwhelmed with having to balance school, work and extracurriculars. The Rho Chi review sessions helped me understand the material for each of my courses and how to efficiently organize my notes. Now, as the VP of Rho Chi, I organize all the exam review sessions, exam review packet development and distribution, and tutoring sign-ups. The review sessions are open to all students and additional information can be found on both EngageSC and their respective class Facebook pages. Students can always reach out to me at email@example.com if they have any questions regarding these programs.
How do you balance your responsibilities with school, extracurricular activities, and internships? Planning ahead has helped me juggle all the responsibilities that I have as a P3 student. I use a planner and Google Calendar to stay up to date on my schoolwork and other work-related tasks. Throughout my time at USC, I’ve learned about the importance of planning small pockets of time in my schedule for breaks so I can mentally recharge before jumping into the next task. Having a good support system with my classmates and housemates has also helped me overcome some challenging days.
What has been your favorite part about the PharmD program so far?
Being able to participate in extracurricular activities! Aside from Rho Chi, I have been a part of the American Pharmacy Student Alliance (APSA) since my P1 year.
Last year, I was involved in a Patient Care Project with APSA and served as the Smoking Cessation Director, where I worked with a team of pharmacy students to coordinate educational talks with local high school students who are part of the Medical Counseling, Organizing, and Recruiting (Med-COR) program at USC. We educated them about the dangers of smoking and vaping, how to avoid it, and resources to help them quit.
What are your future educational/career goals and how do you think your course of study will help you reach them?
After pharmacy school, I would like to pursue a residency in either ambulatory or acute care pharmacy. During my Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) rotation at LAC Mid-Valley Comprehensive Health Center Pharmacy last fall, I gained hands-on experience in ambulatory care pharmacy. I worked directly with patients who struggled with medication adherence and making the necessary lifestyle modifications to keep their diabetes under control. This rotation allowed me to get a glimpse of a pharmacist’s role in managing chronic disease states.
This past summer, I interned at CommonSpirit Health – California Hospital Medical Center. I learned how pharmacy collaboratively works with other departments within the facility to prevent medication administration errors within our neonatal unit. Additionally, with the hospital opening a new emergency department soon, I’ve gotten to work with my director on revising and developing new protocols.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with prospective students about your experience at USC? Pharmacy is an ever-evolving field and USC prepares its students for successful careers. I would advise prospective students to keep an open mind and challenge themselves to take on new opportunities that come their way!