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Clara Gary, CPhT, ICHP Technician Representative
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in Chatham on the Southside of Chicago where I attended St. Felicitas Catholic School. I graduated from St. Willibrord Catholic in Roseland and then began to work on my bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Rosary College in Riverforest, IL. I recently returned to finish my degree at Governor’s State University in 2014 and am still working toward this goal.
Trace your work history: where have you trained / worked/ any special accomplishments?
I started out in 1988 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital under Desi Kotis and was trained in Wesley and then in Prentice by a great pharmacist, Greg Gregory, and by an awesome technician, Latrice Hardy. I worked there for two years and then went on to spend seven years at Michael Reese Hospital working in every area of the hospital and on all shifts, ending up in the OR Pharmacy. From there I left to go into long-term care at Neighbor Care Pharmacy as a Senior IV technician for seven years before coming to the University of Illinois where I have been for the last 11 ½ years. At UI Health, I started out as the Medication Assistance Program Technician, and then became the Lead Technician. Now I am the Pharmacy Discharge Prescription Service Technician.
Describe your current area of practice and practice setting.
As the Pharmacy Discharge Prescription Services Technician, I work as a Tech III for the department of UI Health Ambulatory Care Pharmacy at Wood Street Pharmacy and within the hospital, under the extraordinary direction of Sandra Durley and Kit Moy.
What initially motivated you to get involved, and what benefits do you see in being active in a professional association such as ICHP?
A pharmacy extern, Oksana Kucher, at UI Health asked me to give a presentation for the 2014 ICHP Annual Meeting after observing me at work. She thought it would be interesting for me to share what I do as part of the discharge transitions of care process with other technicians. So I JOINED ICHP! I want to thank Oksana, who is doing her residency at Princeton University Hospital, for encouraging me to get involved. I haven’t looked back since.
ICHP exposes technicians to people who work in all areas of pharmacy, you just have to come out and network, LEARN, and grow. Find an area that you are passionate about and find yourself a mentor then PARTICIPATE. Since I joined ICHP, I have gotten to work with many great people, but my time spent with the great and humble Dr. Nicholas Popovich for a presentation at the Annual Meeting was especially rewarding.
What advice would you give to a new technician eager to become more involved within ICHP?
ICHP is a gem! It is an organization that listens to technicians – where we can communicate our needs, our wants and our concerns. ICHP has programs to address these concerns and promote our professional growth. I want other technicians to know that you should not limit yourself. Since joining ICHP, I am learning to move outside of my comfort zone and try things that I feared, like public speaking and learning to blog! Go figure, I guess old dogs can learn new tricks!
Pharmacy is not only about counting pills and filling medications, of course those are the basics, but there are all kinds of OPPORTUNITIES out there. There are technicians in research, investigational drugs, nuclear medicine, accredited sterile clean rooms, operating and emergency rooms, procurement, continuous quality improvement, and medication assistance programs to name a few. The sky is the limit, so why limit yourself?
Come out and volunteer to be on a committee at ICHP, become an ICHP Champion and organize the technicians in your area for continuing education (CE) via conference call, or an online group or dinner CE session. One of the best ways is to ATTEND the Spring and Annual meetings, like I first did. Remember that the only way to improve your situation or make any meaningful changes is to GET INVOLVED!
Is there an individual you admire or look up to, or a mentor that has influenced your career?
I have been mentored by some of the BEST pharmacy technicians and pharmacists in the world! My technician mentors are Latrice Hardy, Angela Barnes, Wanda Peterson, Pushap Dhawan and Barbara Crawford! And my pharmacist mentors are Greg Gregory, Annie Hiram, Kit Moy, Ed Donnelly, Hillman Truss and Ravi Oberoi! I thank them each for their leadership and guidance throughout my 28 years; they all have a special place in my thoughts and prayers.
Do you have any special interests or hobbies outside of work?
I love to travel and read, though my life currently hasn’t allowed much of either but I will take a road trip in a heartbeat. And recently, I found that I like to write as well but I do tend to be a tad wordy.
Do you have a favorite restaurant or food?
I love food. I think of myself as lifelong foodie! Waffles or pancakes with strawberries, shrimp fettuccini alfredo or any fajitas are my particular favorites; and my sister makes the best homemade carrot cake ever! It’s delicious! I’m making myself hungry! LOL
What is your favorite place to vacation?
I love to float in the ocean anywhere, but especially in Jamaica, and one time I learned to ski in Winter Park, Colorado with the Sno Gophers Ski Club and it was a BLAST! I fell all down that mountain and loved every minute of it. Swoosh! AAAAAHHHH!
What is the most interesting/unique fact about yourself that few people know?
I am what is called a “House Head”, so I love to dance and go to see live music.
I envisioned, starred in, and then filmed a PSA at Michael Reese Hospital for a National Bone Marrow Registry Drive that I coordinated.
Also, I am the mother of 3 with a 15-year-old and 10-year-old boy/girl twins.
What 3 adjectives would people use to best describe you?
Friendly, helpful and hardworking.