Auburn Pharmacist Spotlight: Leborah Smith

Leborah Smith, HSOP Class of 2016

June 2, 2016

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala.Periodically, the Harrison School of Pharmacy will highlight one of its students, faculty members, staff members or alums. This month, we will feature Leborah Smith.

Leborah Smith, a member of the Harrison School of Pharmacy Class of 2016, begins the next chapter of her life this summer as she begins a residency at the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Medical Center in Akron, Ohio. She is one of a record 45 former Harrison School of Pharmacy students who were accepted to residencies for the 2016-17 year. For her passion in hospital pharmacy, Smith was recognized with the Excellence in Hospital Practice Award at HSOP’s annual Hargreaves Awards.


After seven years at Auburn, what was it like to cross the stage and become Dr. Smith?
“It was a bittersweet closing of the most beautiful chapter of my life. My first thought is just how grateful I am to all of those around me who have guided me along the way including family, friends, faculty members, and mentors. I truly would not have reached this point without the help of those around me. As a pharmacist, I want this title to show to others my expertise in the field of pharmacy. I chose this degree to help my family, friends, community, and patients receive the best care possible, and I hope that with this title I will be trusted by those around me. It is important to realize that respect and trust is earned and not simply given, and I am thankful for Auburn University and the Harrison School of Pharmacy for giving me the necessary tools to hopefully one day become a trusted pharmacist.”

Why did you choose Auburn and the Harrison School of Pharmacy?
“This is a question I have been asked probably more than the average Auburn University student. From the time I could talk, I said, “Roll Tide,” and wore Crimson and White at every event possible. In high school, I was divided between two careers, Accounting from the University of Alabama and Pharmacy from Auburn University. Upon further soul searching, I knew I wanted to care for members in my community the way my mother has as a nurse. After advice from Sarah-Anne Swann (a hometown friend who was in pharmacy school at the time), I felt the best chance I had to be accepted into a highly competitive pharmacy school would be to attend Auburn University for undergraduate studies. At that point, I decided to change my entire life goals to attend Auburn University to study biomedical sciences as an undergraduate student. From the first moment I stepped onto Auburn University’s campus, everyone I came into contact with has made it feel like home. I began that first year as an Alabama fan who had few friends with no clue what it was like to be on my own, but I ended that year as a HUGE Auburn fan with friendships that will last a lifetime and, believe it or not, maturing into adulthood. When it was time to apply for pharmacy schools, it was a no-brainer that I wanted to spend the next four years of my life here in this community. Since Auburn University is the only public school in the state of Alabama to offer the Doctor of Pharmacy degree, my options were limited financially. However, my choice as to why Harrison School of Pharmacy over other schools quickly changed from a financial decision to a gut decision. After attending meetings in undergrad in the Pre-Pharmacy Club and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-health organization on campus, I began to learn even more about HSOP and the unique experiences the school has to offer. These experiences range from a plethora of community health fairs, immediate patient interaction upon entering pharmacy school, close relationships with faculty through mentoring programs, and team-based learning.  All of these qualities combined were why Auburn initially, why I chose to stay at Auburn, and why I would choose Auburn University over and over again.”

You are beginning a residency at the Cleveland Clinic Akron General Medical Center in Akron, Ohio, pursuing a career in hospital pharmacy, but that is not what you started out wanting to do. What was the turning point when you decided to go this route?
“When I entered pharmacy school, I wanted to be a retail pharmacist because at that point I was unsure of the role a pharmacist could have in a hospital setting. I had worked in an independent pharmacy in Enterprise, Alabama, so the majority of my pharmacy experience was in retail pharmacy prior to my fourth year of pharmacy school. I shadowed a few clinical pharmacists and spent two weeks in a hospital during my first three years of pharmacy school. During those two weeks, I was able to shadow an emergency department pharmacist at the Mobile Infirmary. That was where my interest began to be piqued because I briefly experienced the impact that a pharmacist was able to make in that environment, but I was still pretty confident I would be working in retail. During my third year of pharmacy school, I was approached by two faculty members, Dr. Raj Amin and Dr. Lea Eiland, who believed I should pursue a residency. I then planned my clinical rotations for my fourth year of pharmacy school to ensure I was able to shadow different types of hospital pharmacists to see if this is the direction I wanted to take. During my clinical rotations at Midtown Medical Center in Columbus, Georgia, I was able to fully comprehend the role and responsibility a pharmacist can have in a hospital setting which drew me to this type of environment. I was able work alongside case managers, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, physicians, patients, and caregivers. This team-based care model is truly one of the biggest attractions for me to hospital pharmacy. These positive experiences I had at Mobile Infirmary and Columbus Regional all had an impact on influencing my decision to become a hospital pharmacist.”

Your mom is a nurse; what kind of impact has she had on your career choice and what does it mean to you to be able to follow in her footsteps in the hospital?
“My mother has been the biggest factor in my career choice. Growing up I was amazed at my mother’s knowledge of medications including drug names, doses, and dosing intervals without ever having to read a medicine label. I also spent an enormous amount of time in the hospital whether it was from frequently being sick or time after school waiting in the breakroom for mom to take me home. Some people get anxious in hospitals, but due to the amount of time I spent growing up there, the hospital has always been a like second home. When my mother worked in the ICU, she was supposed to get off work at 6 p.m., but this was almost never the case. It would be 7, 8, or even 9 p.m. on a bad day before my mom left the hospital. I never quite understood why it was so hard for her to leave the hospital as a child. Now, I realize the importance of staying in the hospital until my patients are cared for completely. Any time we would walk around in town, we would always be stopped by either a patient or caregiver who told my mom ‘thank you’ for the excellent job she did taking care of her patients. She is the reason I chose the field of pharmacy, and she instilled in me a love for patients, a strong work ethic, and an interest for the field itself. The ability to follow in her footsteps and hopefully make the same impact she has on those around her is one of the most rewarding aspects of becoming a hospital pharmacist.”

You have accepted a residency in Akron, Ohio, what will you be doing as part of the residency and why did you choose to go there?
“As a part of this residency, I will be training to become a clinical pharmacist. My training will be similar to our fourth year of clinical rotations, but it will be a training based specifically in a hospital and ambulatory clinic setting. I will be able to further my pharmacy knowledge in areas such as critical care, emergency medicine, psychiatric medicine, pain management, and others. I will spend time in the family medicine clinic helping patients to control problems like their diabetes or high blood pressure. Also, I will obtain a teaching certificate which will require me to complete teaching activities through the Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Pharmacy. The reason I chose this hospital is because it had all the different practice areas I was interested in, and I wanted to move to a different part of the country to learn how they practiced the field of pharmacy. I accidentally stumbled upon the program at a residency showcase, and I spent over an hour speaking with their current residents and residency coordinator, Jim Reissig. When I traveled to Akron, I fell in love with the hospital, their staff, and the learning opportunities the hospital had to offer me. I was given advice from my mentor Dr. Kelly Hester that when you interview at the place you belong, you will just know, and after my visit to Akron General, I knew it was the place for me!”


Leborah Smith at the Walker Building
Leborah Smith at the Walker Building
Sith receives Hospital Practice Award
Leborah Smith receives the Excellence in Hospital Practice Award from Dean R. Lee Evans at the annual Hargreaves Awards

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About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: June 2, 2016