Professional Advice / Opinions:

Meet the Founders of the LEADS Initiative – Justin Budz

Featuring: Justin Budz, PharmD Candidate c/o 2023
By: Isabelle Lim, PharmD Candidate c/o 2024

Justin is a sixth-year pharmacy student and the current Editor-in-Chief of the Rho Chi Post. Justin views pharmacy as a healthy medium between science and healthcare. Studying pharmacy provided him with the opportunity to learn more about the biological processes behind medications working in the body and how everything comes together to help better a patient’s conditions. Pharmacy also offered him the opportunity to practice in healthcare where he was motivated by his ability to work with providers to see his interventions impact the lives of patients. As Justin progressed through pharmacy school, he was inspired to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry as he admired the idea of using the information and skillsets he had learned in school to bring benefit to a global population of patients. He looks forward to seeing his impact on bringing drug products into the market to provide benefit to a wide range of patients. Following his graduation from St. John’s, Justin will begin a two-year Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pharmaceutical Marketing with RevHealth.

What is the purpose of the LEADS Initiative?

The LEADS Initiative is a way to join together older pharmacy students with those in their preprofessional years. The Rho Chi Honor Society mainly involves upperclassmen, as you are first eligible for induction in your fourth year of school. When I was on the Executive Board of Rho Chi, I found that a lot of younger students didn’t know about Rho Chi and what our organization was all about. We created the LEADS Initiative as a means to not only help students learn more about Rho Chi but more importantly aid in their professional development by offering different activities provided throughout the year.

What inspired you to pursue the creation of the LEADS Initiative?

It stemmed back to when I was on the Executive Board of Rho Chi. We noticed a lack of involvement from younger students at our events and we wanted to change that, especially because Rho Chi provides numerous events to aid in professional development. For example, our Coffeehouse Chats allow students to network with alumni from St. John’s who are now in various career paths in pharmacy. There’s a large potential of growth possible through Rho Chi and we wanted to open that avenue to a larger array of students earlier on in their education. The LEADS Initiative is here to help students grow as leaders and professionals by finding different ways to grow their networks, develop writing and critical thinking skillsets, and give back to the community through service opportunities.

What is your favorite part of the LEADS Initiative?

I have some bias being the Editor-in-Chief of the Rho Chi Post, but my favorite part is the writing aspect. I think being able to write and analyze literature showcases skillsets that are not only important for each student in their own professional growth, but also for applying to post-graduation opportunities. Being able to put together a comprehensive piece of writing translates into being able to educate and communicate with a wide population of patients and healthcare providers. Strengthening those writing skillsets can benefit you as a pharmacist by helping you learn how to retrieve data from multiple complex sources and condense that information to communicate it efficiently. Being involved in our newsletter is a unique opportunity to gain a national publication and is a great aspect to include on resumes to help stand out as candidates when applying for post-graduate opportunities.

Is there anything you would like to see the LEADS Initiative expand on in the future?

I think one of the handicaps of the LEADS Initiative is that the program may offer an overwhelming number of opportunities for students. These include the Rho Chi Coffeehouse Chats, service opportunities, speaker events, and a publication opportunity with the Rho Chi Post. Although these are all great experiences, it can be an additional struggle for some students trying to balance their work life, student life, and personal life. Although taking part in the LEADS Initiative has been very manageable for our students this year, I would like to see our program find a way to better balance these experiences so that more students can gain benefit from the LEADS Initiative.

What advice would you give future mentors and mentees?

Definitely be open to all the opportunities that the LEADS Initiative provides. During my time with the Rho Chi Honor Society, I participated in a lot of events where I initially didn’t think I would learn too much. A prominent memory of mine with Rho Chi was attending a Residency and Fellowship Workshop partnered with APhA, IPhO, and SSHP. The event featured alumni from St. John’s who were currently residents and fellows. Through this experience, I got to learn more about what residencies and fellowships were and what their respective application processes looked like. Most importantly, I got to learn about how I should structure my learning experiences and professional growth in my last 2 years of school to help me stand out as a future candidate. I’ll forever be grateful for the conversations I had that day as those tips and insights helped me prepare for applications and eventually acquire a post-doctoral fellowship in pharmaceutical marketing with RevHealth. As a student, you should go into every event with an open mind because you never know what conversation may inspire and motivate you towards a specific career path within pharmacy practice.

On behalf of the Rho Chi Post, we would like to thank Justin for his effort in bringing the LEADS Initiative to life and helping our mentors/mentees earn a national publication!

Published by Rho Chi Post
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