By Juliet Farmer
Nicholas Blanchard, PharmD, MEd, is Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Advocacy at Wegmans School of Pharmacy, St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.
Dr. Blanchard has nearly 20 years of practice and academic experience in pharmacy. Prior to coming to Fisher in early 2006, he held the positions of Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Wingate University School of Pharmacy, Associate Dean of Experiential Education at Texas Tech University School of Pharmacy, and Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice at Washington State University College of Pharmacy.
He also held positions in the pharmaceutical industry and in practice.
Dr. Blanchard received his B.S. in Pharmacy from University of North Carolina, his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Washington, and his Master’s in Education from Campbell University.
Describe a typical day at work.
My days are quite variable. I teach both a Top 200 Medications course and a course in AIDS therapy. I also coordinate the Diversity for Pharmacy Students course. On any given day, I can be found talking with students or in attendance at a variety of meetings. As the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Advocacy, I take the job and title very seriously. I spend much time meeting with students to resolve any issues.
Why did you select academics over private practice?
Of the last 20 years since I graduated, I have been in academia for all but three of those. I worked for a while in industry with the company GlaxoSmithKline. It was a wonderful experience. But my true heart was in academia – so I returned to it.
What mix of clinical/research/teaching work do you do? How much power do you have to change that mix?
As an administrator, I am no longer in clinical practice. I worked for several years as a clinical pediatric pharmacist and staffed a pharmacist-run Asthma Clinic.
What are the advantages to academic pharmacy?
Being in academia, you have an opportunity to be on the front line and to observe new and cutting edge medicine.
If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a Pharmacist? (Why or why not? What would you have done instead?)
Yes I would. I would not have changed anything.
Why did you choose your specialty?
I always wanted to be in pharmacy and in pediatrics – hence my career path.
Did you plan to enter your current specialty prior to pharmacy school?
Yes – I always aimed for it.
Now that you’re in your specialty, do you find that it met your expectations?
Are you satisfied with your income?
I am very blessed to have the income that I do. However, I do wish that education paid as well as community or hospital practice.
What do you like most and least about your specialty?
I wish that there were more hours in a day.
If you took out educational loans, is paying them back a financial strain?
I had all of my loans paid back within two years.
On average: How many hours a week do you work? How many hours do you sleep each night? How many weeks of vacation do you take?
I work a lot of hours – as do many in healthcare. I work a minimum of 60 hours per week – usually more. I sleep on average six to seven hours per night. I take four weeks of vacation per year. I try to live by the motto, “Work hard and play hard.”
Do you have a family and do you have enough time to spend with them?
I am single – but I do have a 12-year-old black English Cocker Spaniel named Jefferson. I am very fortunate to work in a setting where I can bring him to work daily. In fact, Jefferson has been adopted by my department.
In your position now, knowing what you do – what would you say to yourself 10 years ago?
To remember that perception is reality. Treat everyone as fairly as possible and you will go far.
What information/advice do you wish you had known when you were a pre-pharmacy student? (What mistakes or experiences have you encountered that you wished you had known about ahead of time so you could have avoided them?)
I wish that I would have taken the time to take a few more fun courses. It’s hard to go back now and to take a course – so I think I would have taken a couple of semesters of Italian for myself.
From your perspective, what is the biggest problem in health care today?
That’s a hard one to answer. At one time, I would have said that it was insurance. However, today I feel that it is illegal immigration and the health care system. There are too many people using the system and not enough tax dollars going into it.
From your perspective, what is the biggest problem within your own specialty?
There are too few people going into Pharmacy Education. Many are looking to practice because of the significant difference in salaries.
What types of outreach/volunteer work do you do, if any? Any international work?
I volunteer one to two days a month at AIDS Rochester delivering meals to patients who are homebound.
Favorite TV Show?
Dexter on Showtime