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Pharmacy Training, Leadership Experience Give Student Hope for Success

As president of the Pharmacy Student Government Association at UT Health Science Center, Christian Phillips aims to be a role model and an advocate for other students.

Christian Phillips got his first glimpse into pharmacy when he was a child, as his father required multiple medications. 

“My dad was very sick and was a dialysis patient, so there was always a bunch of medications around,” he says. “When I was old enough, I would even help him take his medication, schedule his medication, organize it, and whatnot.” 

Seeing his interest in these medications, Phillips’ relatives who work in the health care field recommended he learn more about pharmacy, and he has had his sights set on that career since high school. Phillips, from Olive Branch, Mississippi, went on to receive his bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, where he studied biomedical science and chemistry. 

Several factors led Phillips to the UT Health Science Center College of Pharmacy, such as the high ranking of the Doctor of Pharmacy program, its affordability, and proximity to his North Mississippi hometown. Now in his third year in the college, Phillips believes he made the right choice. 

“I’m loving it,” he says. In addition to the positive experience he has had with his fellow students and the faculty, both of whom Phillips says are more than willing to help him whenever needed, the college has helped him grow in ways he did not anticipate. “I would probably label myself throughout high school and undergrad as an introvert, but now I’m getting out of my comfort zone. Seeing how much UT Health Science Center cultivates leadership and knowledge has made me want to challenge myself.” 

Phillips took a big step outside his comfort zone by running for president of the Pharmacy Student Government Association. The inspiration initially came from the former president, Alainee Miller. “I saw the way she carried herself, I saw the way the students look at her, and the way the faculty look at her. Seeing that example being set and seeing all the good things that could come from being president, I wanted to experience that and have that growth.” 

Since being elected president, Phillips has set a goal to be a model for other students, just as Miller was for him. He wants to bring more unity among the students and to be an advocate for them when they are facing issues in the college. As a student, he has also made involvement a priority and is a member of the college’s chapters of the American Pharmacists Association–Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP), Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA), leadership society Phi Lambda Sigma, and honor society Rho Chi. 

“Seeing how much UT Health Science Center cultivates leadership and knowledge has made me want to challenge myself.”

Christian Phillips

Along with his leadership and involvement experiences, Phillips’ internship is helping to prepare him for success. He has worked for two years as a pharmacy intern at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, doing much of the work of a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician, but under supervision. “It’s opened my eyes to the clinical side of pharmacy,” he says. “Every pharmacist and pharmacy tech there is very knowledgeable. They have fostered a great learning environment and have taught me a lot of information that I’ve been able to utilize in school.” 

With under two years of pharmacy school left, Phillips is not yet sure what path he will take after graduating in 2025. He is leaning toward seeking residency when the time comes. His work at Le Bonheur has him considering specializing in pediatrics, but he is hoping his upcoming rotations will lead him to the right specialty. “I don’t know exactly what I want to do, but I am very open-minded,” he says. 

Looking even further into the future, Phillips says he can see himself working in academia and in a leadership position, so he can utilize the experience he has gained through the College of Pharmacy to help train the next generation of pharmacists.

This story was initially published in the Fall 2023 College of Pharmacy Magazine.