Alex Winn’s love of science began in fifth grade when he and his best friend began passing a botany book back and forth — not a typical note pass or comic book share. “Since my fifth-grade botany class at the Portland Waldorf School, I have had a very strong interest in plants, gardening, and the healing power contained in nature,” Alex Winn recalls.
A viewing of Medicine Man and his family trip to Hawai‘i strengthened Winn’s fixation with nature and healing.
His childhood physician saw Winn’s devotion and, when he was old enough, offered Winn a scholarship to study with a pharmacist, Mark McKibben. Remaining a close mentor for Winn, Mckibben pushed him to become more educated in pharmacy and seek out a degree.
In 2010, Winn graduated from Pacific University with a degree in pharmacy. “My time at Pacific University was a very special time in my life during which I made life-long friends including classmates and faculty, many of whom are now my coworkers and colleagues,” Winn said. “It was Dr. Jennifer Jordan however, who taught me how to aim for that impossible balance of academic excellence and living life fully.” Winn also acknowledged and expressed gratitude to many other professors who have influenced his academic learning and success as well.
While he was a student at Pacific, he was involved in community service. He often went to help serve the elderly in Hillsboro, Ore. One community service task related to his occupation were the “brown bag” events he participated in. Winn said these events offered people an opportunity to bring their prescription medications and receive personalized consultation with a pharmacy student. “I have also participated in the Oregon Society of Health-Profession Pharmacists (OSHP) annual seminar nearly every year beginning as a student member,” Winn added.
Achieving great success by following his life-long interest and career path, Winn secured a job with Volunteers In Medicine – Clinic of the Cascades in Bend, Ore., upon graduating from Pacific. A year later, he found a job at St. Charles Health System hospital as a clinical pharmacist.
His work at the Volunteers in Medicine called for Winn to aid low-income and uninsured patients by filling their prescriptions. The prescriptions are funded by a variety of donors including St. Charles Health System of Bend, as well as AstraZeneca and Merck bulk institutional patient assistance programs. The staff of Volunteers in Medicine is predominantly volunteer pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who, last year, worked to fill 3,757 prescriptions valued at more than $1.5 million.
Currently residing in Bend, Winn is now the director of charitable pharmacy at the clinic and continues to work full time at St. Charles hospital. Winn is committed to helping his community by way of giving back. He also wants to ensure the safety of his patients and take an active role in working with residents in June 2014 when students begin rotation at St. Charles hospital.
Winn advised future pharmacists to be patient, humble, and diligent. “Treat your fellow students, professors and guest lecturers as if they are life-long colleagues, because they may indeed be just that,” Winn said. “Also I would encourage pharmacy students to push the envelope of our profession.”
In his future he hopes to see an improved healthcare system that is easier, more accessible, and safer for patients to navigate. He believes by working with colleagues and involving future pharmacists’ ideas, they can all make a positive change. Winn concluded, “I believe pharmacists are poised to help with each of these points, and it is my hope we affect the change we want to see in the world.”