It all began the summer before her sophomore year at The Hun School. Dami Odedele ’08 spent time with a family friend who happened to be a pharmacist. “I was definitely interested in the sciences and knew I wanted to get involved in healthcare, but I didn’t want to be a physician. Then, after speaking with our friend, I knew pharmacy was where I wanted to be,” she explains.
She returned to School that fall and petitioned then-Department Head Dr. Kay Kiefer to take Honors Chemistry. “I came back as a junior determined and convinced this was what I wanted to do with my life.” She triumphed, earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, and has been a practicing pharmacist for the last three years. She currently works with Qualitas Pharmacy Services, a division of RWJ Barbabas Health, in the home infusion department providing IV medications such as chemotherapy, parenteral nutrition, and antibiotics to patients.
Unlike others who transitioned to working from home during COVID-19, Ms. Odedele’s work requires the use of a lab. “We can’t work from home. Our nurses are still making their field visits and together we’re trying to provide as much support for our patients as we can, in order to keep them from going back to the hospital.”
She takes great satisfaction in her job, dispelling the myth that pharmacists are simply automatons dispensing prescriptions written by doctors. “There is a lot that goes into it. For instance, we have to convert the orders and make sure the dosage is correct, since there can be errors. We also check that the medicine prescribed is compatible with others the patient is taking. And, when it comes to IV medication, we have to make sure it’s appropriate to administer at home, since some require emergency support. If a patient is getting more than one medicine in the IV, we have to confirm the multiple medicines are compatible. We make sure everything is right, rather than just following orders of the prescribers.”
Ms. Odedele, who works hand-in-hand with the field nurses, believes that good healthcare is a team effort. “As pharmacists, we have an important role in supporting doctors and other healthcare providers to determine the best therapy for our patients.”
While the chemistry continues to fascinate her, the human element is what really drives her. “For me, the ability to educate and provide clarification to patients and their caregivers is the best part. Health literacy is so important and many people aren’t very health literate and don’t understand how to take medication. They need a little help and pharmacists are in a great position to provide education.”
The New Jersey resident who was a boarding student at Hun remembers her years here with fondness. “Hun really laid the foundation for me, for being who I am, and for what I do.”
Despite some setbacks, she remains steadfast in her ability to inspire others. “If you want to pursue something, don’t let anything, even a temporary failure, derail you. I had that experience and I was still able to accomplish what I wanted. I think that if you really put your mind to something and genuinely want it, no one and nothing should be able to shut you down.”