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On the Spot with Health & Wellness’ Leslie Latimer

Health & Wellness is getting ready for flu season, which means that students may see more of Leslie Latimer, senior pharmacist of Health & Wellness’s pharmacy. Health & Wellness offers students multiple ways to seek health and medical advising, as well as a pharmacy for students and faculty. At the pharmacy, students and faculty are offered a place to fill existing prescriptions, or by appointment with a doctor or nurse at Health & Wellness may receive a prescription. The pharmacy also offers emergency contraception, over the counter medications, disposal of old prescriptions and much more. Since 2017, Leslie Latimer has worked for the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Health & Wellness pharmacy as the senior pharmacist. Prior to that she spent four years in 2000 to 2004 at the Health &Wellness pharmacy as a part-time pharmacist; she then went to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital where she accepted a full-time job running their outpatient pharmacy program. Latimer studied pharmacy at the University of Texas in Austin and has been working in pharmacy for about 30 years. 

Caitlin Staffanson (CS): On Friday Nov. 8, 2019 I had the privilege of talking with Leslie Latimer… Many students come to the pharmacy throughout their time at the University of New Hampshire, but few know the work, and people behind the pharmacy windows. Latimer talks about her role and those whom she supervises. 

Leslie Latimer (LL): I’m the pharmacy supervisor at the Health & Wellness pharmacy and I started this time in January of 2017, so this will be my third season here. I actually worked here from 2000 to 2004 as a part-time pharmacist and then took a position full time at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital and I ran their outpatient pharmacy program there. Which was not unlike this, it was very collaborative working with the doctors.  

CS: How did you initially get started with Health & Wellness?  

LL: In 2000, I had a friend who worked here part time and she was looking for someone to do job share, so she called me. When I was here from 2000 to 2004, my kids were little, and I wanted to be home a lot. I just worked the extra shifts, like the Wednesday evening shift and the Saturday, so I could be home with my kids… I met all the people and the work environment here is delightful, it really is wonderful. All of the people you work with are collaborative and the health and wellness of the patient is the number one priority. In health care, this is a little tangent topic, there are a lot of clinicians that are competitive and out for themselves and wanting to write that next article or publish. Here, we are all about our mission, which is the health and wellness and safety of the students on campus. That makes it really, really nice and everybody is on the same page.  

CS: How does your role as a pharmacy supervisor differ from others in the office? 

LL: On top of filling the prescriptions and working the bench as I was just saying, as a supervisor you have to do all of the licensing, all of the contracting with third parties. For example, even though we don’t take Medicare, we have to be certified with their fraud, waste and abuse training. You have to manage not only your own training, but the training of everyone else in the department and make sure they become licensed. There is a large administrative component to my position. I also have to do the schedule and make sure every shift is covered. Just like any other management position, you have to take care of the business of the facility.  

CS: Do you have seasons that are busier than others; for example, the flu season? 

LL: It is kind of interesting, every semester it starts out slowly and it ramps up and builds ahead of steam. In the fall, that is more like everybody is getting strep throat, everybody is getting mono, everybody is getting pink eye. You go from filling 85 prescriptions last week and now you’re filling 120 because everybody is sick; it’s going around on campus. Then, when everybody goes home on Thanksgiving break, they eat turkey and chicken soup, and everybody comes back healthier, right? Then there is a little bit of a lull and then a pop before the holiday. Then in January everybody comes back and it’s quiet and then boom – flu season hits. February and March are mono, flu, strep, all over again. Then everyone gets healthy again when the sun comes out and the snow thaws. April and May we do our annual inventory then because its quieter and we have an opportunity to do other projects.  

CS: What is your favorite part of your job or working for Health & Wellness? 

LL: When students ask me, “should I go into pharmacy?” I ask them, “do you care about people? Do you like taking care of people? Do you like people to be well?” and that is my biggest piece of it. I really like to work with a student with a chronic illness, like diabetes or something and getting them honed in on taking the right medication and taking care of them, so they can have a healthier life. Even the person that walks through the door, that was really uncomfortable over the weekend because they were sick. They come in on Monday morning, you help them out and then they have a follow-up. Students will pop their heads in and say, “thank you for taking care of me, I am so much better. You were really helpful.” It’s that personal connection, that I really, really love. I don’t love doing the budgets, I don’t love doing all the scheduling, but I definitely like takin care of the students.  

This piece is comprised of highlights from a podcast in which staff writer Caitlin Staffanson spoke with Health & Wellness pharmacist Leslie Latimer.

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