Julie Sease

Meet new faculty: Julie Sease

Hometown: Newberry, S.C.
Education: PharmD, University of South Carolina, 2003
Position: Senior associate dean and clinical professor, College of Pharmacy

How did you originally get interested in your field?

Pharmacists in the small rural community I grew up in were pillars of the community. They were people who everyone knew, who everyone looked up to. So I grew up with some pretty wonderful examples to watch. One of them, “Dr.” Joe Smith, an alumnus of the College of Pharmacy, ran the pharmacy in Peak. Dr. Joe was the pharmacist who, if you needed something in the middle of the night and called him, he would go open up his store. Just watching these folks as I was growing up, I knew I wanted to be like them. When it came time to start deciding about a career path, I was incredibly interested in biology. The combination of knowing I was interested in something medical, but not necessarily wanting to go to medical school, and wanting to have a relationship like I saw pharmacists having with people where they could call them or ask them questions at any time, those things were very appealing to me.

What was your dissertation and how has your research or scholarship evolved since then?

Not a dissertation exactly, but at the time I completed my primary care pharmacy residency program, hypertension guidelines nicknamed “JNC7” were new. My research was focused around how well providers were doing in following that new set of guidelines in the management of their patients that had hypertension, whether they were reaching their blood pressure goals, and whether they were using the medication therapies that were being recommended by the new guidelines. My research after that started to shift when I became a faculty member. I began looking at the role pharmacists could play in helping patients manage their chronic diseases better. In the VA system where I trained, the pharmacists are very integrated into the health care teams. That role is very well established. But as you go out from the VA, you don’t yet usually go into your doctor’s office and have a pharmacist there, working as a part of the team to make recommendations for your medication therapy. I have been lucky to have the opportunity to work with a free clinic to develop a process where I could be integrated into the health care team in that setting. I was able to help manage patients’ diabetes, hypertension and other chronic illnesses, making recommendations to improve their disease-state control and also providing them education about their disease as well as their medication therapy. I have been able to study the outcomes associated with this work and publish about that.

I feel like the university and the college have given me an awful lot. I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the PharmD program.

What made you decide to go into academia?

When the time came for me to finish up my residency, there was a position on the faculty that was open and I was here for five years as a faculty member, practicing in the VA in their outpatient clinics as my clinical practice site and while teaching in the PharmD program. As a faculty member, I had the opportunity to practice in the setting I enjoyed while also helping educate future pharmacists coming along behind me. Having clinical experience made it much easier, much more genuine, to educate students about how we manage medication therapies. Having experience as a clinician, and seeing patient after patient managing their drug therapy, things become second nature to you that make it a much more organic experience to teach students how things work in real-life.

Why did you choose the University of South Carolina?

As a student, I knew I wanted to be a pharmacist and really, at that time, you had two choices in the state for pharmacy school. It just made a lot of sense to do my prepharmacy where I could go to pharmacy school. After I finished pharmacy school and my residency, I had the opportunity to serve as a faculty member here for five years. I left for another faculty position, where I worked for ten years and, during that time, I spent quite a lot of it in an administrative role. So, my current position felt like the next natural step for me from a personal and professional development perspective. I had done most of the things that were available to me at my last job and this position gives me the opportunity to use that experience, but in a more expanded way. Also, the College of Pharmacy has so many excellent things going on. I feel so lucky to have had the chance to come back here. The opportunity to work with the team here appealed to me. The atmosphere that attracted me here as a student, that I enjoyed teaching in before, is still here. There’s a real feel of collegiality and family within the college and I’m glad to be a part of it.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I have a strong desire to be able to contribute to the future of our college and university. I feel like the university and the college have given me an awful lot. I am excited to have the opportunity to contribute to the PharmD program by helping to ensure that our curriculum is the best that it possibly can be, that our students are getting the best educational experience that they can, that our faculty have the things that they need to be able to provide that education to our students, that our students feel supported, and that our faculty feel supported. I feel like these things are all part of the best legacy I could leave this place. As an administrator in a job like mine, if you’re really doing a good job, basically nobody even knows what you do. You’re sort of invisible. The best job that you can do is to make sure that everything happens without anybody even needing to know how it happened.

What’s a talent you have or something that you’ve done that people might find surprising?

I’m not sure that I have any talent or have done anything all that surprising. As far as a fun fact, though, I would share what I am proudest of. My husband and I have two little boys, one who is 7 and one who just turned 4. There is never a single boring moment in our household.

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