"Pharmacists Are the Center of Healthcare"

Rotations at Touro Led Kenneth Pawa to Clinical Pharmacy to Save Lives

June 19, 2023
Kenneth Pawa is hooded during the Touro College of Pharmacy\'s commencement exercises.
Kenneth Pawa is hooded during the Touro College of Pharmacy's commencement exercises.

Queens native Kenneth Pawa always knew he belonged in the medical field but he wasn’t sure exactly where. After graduating from St. John’s University with his B.S. in Biology, he began exploring his next step. Pharmacy drew him in.

“Pharmacists are the center of healthcare and the most accessible providers for patients. You can walk into any Walgreen’s and they will give you recommendations without charging,” he said, explaining that the help he received while caring for his parents, who were on multiple medications, exemplified this accessibility.

“I could reach out to them and they would be willing to help even if they had 500 scripts waiting, and they were so friendly about it. I want to be like that accessible healthcare provider,” he said.

Pharmacy Offered “Multitude Options”

While Pawa was decided on pharmacy as a profession, it was another matter to determine what direction to go in the field, which offers a multitude of options for budding pharmacists.

TCOP’s curriculum, featuring almost two years of rotations through various specialties, helped him identify the direction he wanted to go in, as did an internship at a nursing home - Parker Jewish Institute on Long Island - which pushed him in the direction of one-on-one clinical care.

“There are so many different career paths,” he noted. “You could work in industry, you could compound. You could work in community, a hospital, as a pharmaceutical lawyer. There are multiple routes – it’s really versatile. You can choose where you want to be.”

Pawa thrived at TCOP and is well on his way to becoming that accessible provider that inspired him. At graduation, he received a multitude of awards for academic achievement, contributions to community pharmacy and public health, and leadership and dedication to the profession. He served as student body president and class president during all of his four years at TCOP.

His next step is a postgraduate residency at NYU Langone Hospital – Long Island – with plans to go on to complete a second year of residency. He plans to specialize in one of several areas that piqued his interest while on rotations at school. They include critical care, oncology, ambulatory care, and infectious diseases - to name a few.

Though his specialty has yet to be identified, Pawa is clear he wants to be in a hospital setting where he believes he can have a direct impact on saving lives. He learned this first-hand while on rotations as part of his TCOP experience, when he would go on rounds and talk to patients at bedside.

“A lot of [patients] are nonresponsive in the ICU, so you’d go see – are they getting the right medication? And if they’re able to talk, you would just see if everything is OK,” he recalled. “There are a lot of things that can be overlooked. We’d make recommendations and monitor the patients frequently. From those experiences I was able to make a lot of recommendations and see good outcomes.  That’s how I really learned that’s where I belong. I am really excited to begin my next chapter as a clinical pharmacist!”