Rebecca Bruning is a UGA Amazing Student

Rebecca Bruning, a fourth-year Doctor of Pharmacy student from Watkinsville, Ga., is committed to patient care. She’s also passionate about changing how people view pharmacists—as more than people who count pills. Rebecca recently was spotlighted as a UGA Amazing Student. The following is her spotlight that appeared on the UGA’s website.

Current employment:
Pharmacy intern at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta

Expected graduation:
May 2021

Degree objective:
Doctor of Pharmacy, PharmD

Other degrees:
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Anderson University, 2017

Fun fact about me:
I played four years of NCAA Division II Women’s Tennis at Anderson University and was a three-time Academic All-American.

I chose to attend UGA because:
Of the overwhelming sense of support and passion for student development. Since I was pursuing a doctoral program, I knew that the environment and resources were important to me. UGA has extensive research involvement and a multitude of professional organizations available. With the pharmacy program’s 2+2 format, I knew I could have the opportunity to experience an academic medical center for my third-year Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences and fourth-year Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences. Since moving to Augusta in June of 2019, I have formed close mentors with clinical faculty members and preceptors that practice at the Augusta University Medical Center and the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center. These mentors have exposed me to exceptional interprofessional research opportunities with data collection, IRB protocol creation, and submission to national poster presentations.

How did you pick pharmacy?
I have always been drawn to math and science classes, specifically chemistry and biochemistry. Medical sciences intrigued me because I wanted to help people and I was always such a curious learner. I knew I would want a career where learning didn’t stop with a degree. I debated amongst other medical professions. Ultimately, I decided to pursue pharmacy as I began to learn about the increasing role of pharmacists in the hospital setting and their role on interprofessional teams. Pharmacists do so much more than count pills, and I am constantly amazed by the expanding role of pharmacists.

Top university highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
Since starting pharmacy school at UGA in August 2017, I have experienced more personal and professional growth than I ever could have imagined. This growth would not have been possible without the many professors and faculty members that encouraged and advised me over these past 3.5 years.

The most impactful aspect of my pharmacy career thus far has been my involvement with professional pharmacy organizations. I have served in local university chapters and state associations. I am currently serving in a national position for the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists, where as a first-year pharmacy student, I was selected as one of two first-year liaisons. There, I was elected president-elect and a subsequent term as president. The valuable skills of time management, interpersonal communication and teamwork that I harnessed within these roles continue to influence my daily life.

Through this association, I discovered my passion for the direct patient care process and the power we have as pharmacists being some of the most accessible health care providers. I also learned the valuable skill of advocacy: advocacy for current and future patients, advocacy for my future career as a pharmacist, and advocacy for myself as a future practitioner. I began to practice these advocacy skills as I attended the annual Day at the Dome event, where student pharmacists spoke to state legislators about the importance of our presence in health care.

Selected honors and awards:

  • Vice Chair of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council
  • Lead Dawg Award
  • 2020 recipient of the I.Z. Harris Award
  • Keynote speaker for the College’s Annual Signature Stewardship Event, A Dose of Gratitude
  • Josh and Rachel Marshall Endowed Student Scholarship – June 2020
  • Outstanding Pharmacy Student Highlight – January 2020
  • GPhA – Carlton Henderson Memorial Scholarship – June 2019
  • Presidential Scholar Award – fall 2017, spring 2018, spring 2020, summer 2020, fall 2020
  • Dean’s List – fall 2018, spring 2019, fall 2019
  • Pharmacy Support Scholarship – May 2017

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be:
Pharmtoberfest, which is a college-wide health fair held annually in October in recognition of American Pharmacists Month. This fair serves the students, faculty and staff at UGA. During my first year, I served as a liaison for first-year student pharmacist involvement. In my second year, I served on the Pharmtoberfest Committee as the logistics chair. In this role, I was responsible for determining the layout, communicating with all of the collaborating organizations, and ordering event supplies including chairs, tables, tent, etc. During my final year of involvement, I served as the head of the Pharmtoberfest Committee and oversaw each of the chairs, including logistics, finance, marketing, entertainment and decorating.

I will always remember Pharmtoberfest because the feeling of satisfaction knowing that my team’s efforts made an impact on so many different people was truly irreplaceable. We continued to improve on our efforts as we impacted more of the university community each year. During Pharmtoberfest 2019, we collaborated with 35 different organizations to educate 450 individuals, administer 200 influenza vaccinations, perform 90 blood pressure and blood glucose screenings, 32 HIV screenings, and 13 hepatitis C screenings. There was also a voter registration drive, bone marrow donor registration and mental health counseling sessions. This event brought together many of the university’s resources in an effort to give back to the community and showcase the breadth of pharmacists’ impacts.

What volunteer work have you done while at UGA? Why? And what have you learned?
I helped with the coordination of and participated in the Multicultural Health Fair, which serves primarily Spanish-speaking patients at the Pendergrass Flea Market. The fair offers blood pressure, blood glucose, HIV and hepatitis C screenings. There are also a multitude of educational opportunities in topics like over-the-counter medication safety and immunizations. I also helped with the Pinewoods Health Fairs, which offers screenings to members of the Pinewoods Mobile Home Community. I also volunteered with my pharmacy fraternity through UGA Campus Kitchen to create and donate meals to lower-income families in the community. Through these experiences, I confirmed my love of the direct patient care process and the satisfaction I feel from giving back to my community.

My favorite professor is:
Dr. Andrea Newsome. She’s an amazing mentor given her passion for patient care, research and work in expanding the perception of pharmacy. She maintains her practice site at the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at the Augusta University Medical Center and teaches various lectures within pharmacotherapy and ACLS courses. As a mentor, she is very honest, realistic, and encouraging.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with:
Dr. Anthony Fauci. He’s obviously an infectious disease icon, and I would love to pick his brain and relish the impact he’s made on scientific advancement.

When I have free time, I enjoy:
Cooking, eating and being active. I have a real passion for food and food photography. I love trying new recipes or restaurants and being able to share that with friends and family. One of my favorite things about Athens is all of the local restaurants. Some of my favorite places to grab a bite are Seabear Oyster Bar, Cali N Tito’s and The Table Bistro.

COVID-19 has limited some of my normal exercise habits, but I’ve recently enjoyed cardio kickboxing and running on trails by the river in Augusta. Any opportunity to be outside enjoying the sunshine and nature is extremely refreshing and stress relieving for me.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to:
Open a restaurant that serves delicious and nutritious meals to indigent populations. Many lower-income individuals are simply worried about access to food and often don’t have the energy or means to think about the quality or nutrition level of food they’re consuming. Improved nutrition can help with a multitude of health issues. This preventative care could address later complications for this patient population.

After graduation, I plan to:
I’m thrilled to have been matched as a PGY1 resident at the University of Kentucky Healthcare in Lexington, Kentucky. My goal would be to specialize in infectious disease or critical care. Ultimately, I’d like to serve as a clinical faculty member and participate in didactic teaching, precepting, and research mentorship.