By Eric Peterson
Diane Cluxton is turning to higher education for something it’s no longer as known for as it once was — the promise of employment and a good salary upon graduation.
But the 42-year-old Naperville mother of four said the promise of a better future is worth the $85,000 to $90,000 and three years of hard work she’ll be devoting to Roosevelt University’s new College of Pharmacy, which will teach its first class in Schaumburg Thursday.
Roosevelt began taking steps toward opening the new college in 2009. At that time, there were only four pharmacy programs in the entire state despite Illinois being among seven states with the highest demand for pharmacists.
The pharmacist shortage here is credited to the state’s aging population, increased use of prescription and nonprescription medications, expansion of retail drugstores and the growth of pharmacy services in general.
“I was attracted to Roosevelt because they have the three-year program and I’m older,” Cluxton said. “The day I graduate is the day my daughter will be graduating.”
For 17 years, Cluxton has been doing medical transcription — writing out medical reports from physicians’ audio recordings. She thinks, however, that new transcription software could phase out her position in five to 10 years.
Cluxton was also influenced by seeing her aging in-laws struggle with a complex schedule of medications. It made her want to be part of the increasingly proactive role pharmacists are playing across the nation.
While doctors themselves continue to be rare in rural areas, such as the 600-person Indiana town where her in-laws lived, the growing reach businesses like Walgreens, CVS and Walmart are making the expertise of pharmacists more accessible.
“They didn’t ever feel that they could talk to anybody about it,” Cluxton said of the overwhelming regimen of neurological and diabetes medications her mother-in-law took before her death at 76. “It was a story that didn’t need to happen.”
Although Cluxton is truly changing careers, she feels her background in medical transcription gives her a bit of a head start in pharmacy.
The field carries heavy responsibility, which she’s already accustomed to. Accuracy is the whole point of her transcription job.
Second, she’s acquired a familiarity over the years with many of the medical and pharmaceutical terms that she’s going to be dealing with even more now.
“It does help me to know I at least have an understanding of what the physician is thinking,” Cluxton said.
She’s especially pleased that the philosophy of Roosevelt’s new College of Pharmacy is about being both proactive and holistic. As soon as this fall and for the remainder of the three-year program, students will spend one day interning at a real pharmacy for every four days they spend in class.
Doug Knerr, provost of Roosevelt’s Schaumburg campus, said the new college is expected to have an even greater influence in the future on all other programs there.
Knerr said over the course of their three years he expects the students to intern in a variety of places, and that one day every graduate of the university will have had a meaningful urban, rural and international experience during their education.
And for Cluxton, getting into a real-world environment as quickly as possible was one of the attractions of the Roosevelt program.
“I really want to get out in front of patients,” she said.
The next three years are expected to be an all-consuming commitment, but both Cluxton and Knerr agreed that when it comes to pharmacy, the jobs will be there.
Without such a promise, Cluxton said she could hardly risk the high tuition she’s financing through student loans.
But when it’s all over, she’ll be a part of a profession she’s always admired and believes she can play a part in reshaping for the future.
Read more: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110706/news/707069886/#ixzz1RWXLxvXR