"I found that science and service to others were well balanced in pharmacy..."
Growing up in Travelers Rest, alumnus Devin Drummond (2018 Pharm.D.) never imagined his career would take him to the northernmost end of the globe. He's found his passion, however, in serving the rural communities of the Bering Strait region. Devin works as a clinical pharmacist with Norton Sound Health Corporation, a tribally owned and operated, not-for profit health care organization.
Tell us about what you do:
I am currently serving as a clinical pharmacist at Norton Sound Health Corporation in Nome, Alaska. Just south of the Arctic Circle, our critical access hospital serves the 16 villages within the Bering Strait region. As a pharmacist at NSHC, I wear many hats — I provide pharmacy care to our emergency department, inpatient acute care, primary care, infusion therapy services, outpatient dispensing, warfarin clinic, long-term care facility, immunization clinics, and village health services. I enjoy the variety of work that rural health care allows me to practice.
How did you originally get interested in your field?
I can remember back in Boy Scouts learning plant identification from our scoutmaster, Bruce Fox. He was the head horticulturalist at Furman University. On every hike, he would provide plentiful education on local plants in the upstate, including their history and potential uses. I can recall digging up yellow root along creek beds and learning it could help reduce stomach pain if made into a tea or help reduce mouth ulcers if you chewed on the roots. Mr. Fox was brilliant man but he couldn’t tell me “how” and “why” these plants caused their medicinal effects. Up until then, my understanding of medicine was very minimal. You have a headache, you take a pill, and your headache goes away. Where were Ms. Frizzle or Bill Nye to swoop in and explain it all?
As I progressed through high school, my curiosity continued to grow as I learned the basics of human anatomy and chemistry. I began researching different fields of medicine and decided to pursue pharmacy. After graduation, I began working for Bi-Lo Groceries and eventually landed a position as a technician. It was there that I really fell in love with field of pharmacy. I was able to witness pharmacists as a vital member of the community assisting patients with their health needs. I found that science and service to others were well balanced in pharmacy.
Why did you choose the University of South Carolina?
I wanted to learn from one of the most established programs in our state and be part of its rich history of alumni.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Any time I receive positive feedback from patients, I consider that a win. I love being able to assist them with their pharmaceutical needs. Whether that’s taking the time to educate them on their new medication therapy, working diligently to get their prior authorization approved, or finding the appropriate over-the-counter product. I find satisfaction in reducing barriers to care for my patients and seeing the positive impact it has on their health.
Who has been a mentor to you?
There have been countless people who have mentored me, but I wouldn’t be the pharmacist I am today without Browning Wade and Laura Styles ('86). They were the very first pharmacists I worked for as a technician and I eventually became their intern at Bi-Lo. I am grateful for their words of encouragement and guidance along every step of my pharmacy career.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
I’ve always enjoyed baking and making desserts to share with others. Ironically, after pharmacy school I discovered a passion for physical fitness and nutrition. Luckily I’ve found a way to balance these two hobbies.
What are you currently reading, watching, or listening to?
The Great British Bake Off, House of the Dragon, and anything from the Marvel Universe.
What would your superpower be?
Teleportation or cleaning dirty dishes with the snap of my finger.
What is your advice for current students / future pharmacy professionals?
Be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Without doing this, I would have never landed myself in rural Alaska. I’ve been able to learn a lot of myself, build confidence, and experience things that I would have never thought I could before. Don’t assume that there is only one path to your career goal.
What is your favorite memory from pharmacy school?
It’s difficult to pinpoint any one particular memory as a favorite, but receiving my first white coat and my hooding ceremony are two that stick out to me. I cherished being able to make my family proud as a first-generation college student and share with them my accomplishments thus far. I value everything in between these events and the meaningful connections I was able to build with colleagues, professors and preceptors.
What song always puts you in a good mood?
“Sing a Song” or anything else by Earth, Wind, & Fire.