Board of Directors Profile: Jennifer Ellison, Regional Director Central and President of West Central Society

by Janice Onnezi, Marketing Affairs Committee Member
June 15, 2010

Where did you go to pharmacy school? And why?

I attended Drake University in Des Moines, IA. I looked at the University of Iowa and Purdue as well, but I decided on Drake because I felt more at home there. I think the reason for this is that it is quite a bit smaller than the other two, and I came from a small high school.

Trace your professional history since graduation: where have you trained/worked?

I did a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the VA Hospital in Memphis, TN. After that, I came back to Illinois to start work as a clinical/staff pharmacist at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. In this role, I worked in several clinical areas, including adult ICU and cardiology. I am still at St. Francis, but in 2008, I transitioned into the position of drug information pharmacist.

Describe your current area of practice and practice setting.

As drug information pharmacist, I work on formulary reviews and DUEs. In addition, I help educate pharmacists and other hospital staff by writing monthly newsletters and answering detailed drug information questions.

What initially motivated you to get involved, and what benefits do you see in being active in a professional association such as ICHP?

I have been a member of ICHP since I first started at OSF in 1999. Initially, I just attended local meetings here and there as well as an occasional Spring Meeting. I became more involved on a local level when Margaret Heger asked me to take over the WCSHP presidency a couple years ago. Then at my first Annual Meeting, Jen Phillips approached me and asked me to be on the New Practitioners Network Executive Committee. Since then, I have really enjoyed serving on other committees; I wish that I had become more involved sooner!

I think being active in professional organizations is important because it gives you a chance to have a say in changes that affect your profession. I often tell this to new grads who are considering joining ICHP.

Is there an individual you admire or look up to, or a mentor that has influenced your career?

One of my preceptors during residency, Dr. Richard Brown, set a very good example for me early in my career. Not only was he a brilliant clinician, but he was also a very well rounded person. He was the type of person who would come in early and work hard all day so that he could leave on time to go home and enjoy his wife and children. He got along well with everyone – staff pharmacists, technicians and clinical pharmacists. Dr. Brown taught me that being a good person is even more important than being a good pharmacist.

My mom has been another notable mentor for me throughout my life. Like me, she worked while raising children, and she did this at a time when most other moms in our town stayed home. I always felt that she set a good example for me because she worked. She did a great job of maintaining a good balance between her life at work and her life at home. During a short time in her career, she worked in human resources as a recruiter at our local hospital. It was during this time that she convinced me to look into pharmacy as a future career option.

Do you have any special accomplishments for which you are particularly proud?

I have to say that I am most proud of being a mother. (I have a five year old son named William.) Of all the hats that I wear, this one is the most challenging and the most rewarding.

What project initiatives are being implemented as a result from your efforts?

Currently, I am in the process of helping to establish a PGY1 residency program at St. Francis. This has been a several year long endeavor for me; the economy, a new electronic medical record, and the expansion of our hospital are all factors that have slowed this effort. However, we hope to get this up and running soon.

What is your favorite place to vacation?

I love to go to Pawley’s Island, SC with my family (including my parents and my brothers and their families). It’s great to go with extended family because you have extra hands to help with the children. The ocean is ideal because there is always something for everyone to do there, no matter how young or old they are.

What is the most interesting/unique fact about yourself that few people know?

I guess one unique fact about me is that my graduating class in high school was only 65 people. People used to make fun of our school because it was out in the country located right next to a cow pasture.

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