Director of Experiential EducationJoined USJ: 2011
Jennifer Luciano can best be described as driven by two complementary forces – she thrives on intensive, compassionate direct patient care, and has a palpable enthusiasm for teaching. That the USJ pharmacy program enables her to pursue both tracks simultaneously is absolutely perfect – and the two pursuits are intertwined to the enduring benefit of her students. After advancing her career as a clinical pharmacist at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center before joining USJ, Luciano chose to devote time and attention to academia because of a strong desire “to give back to the profession by mentoring and guiding future pharmacists.” She is encouraged by increasing opportunities for pharmacists to apply their expertise to support and benefit patients – which students see and experience first-hand in their clinical rotations.
For USJ pharmacy students who spend six week rotations at a range of clinical sites, the time with psychiatric patients often stands out. “It is totally different from anything they’ve done before,” Luciano says, and the exposure to psychiatric care in a hospital and outpatient setting, “provides tremendous experience and an opportunity to apply the knowledge they’ve been accumulating.”
While pursing her own degree, Luciano had the opportunity to experience the rewards and challenges of working in behavioral health during a clinical rotation at Hartford’s highly regarded Institute of Living. It was there that she developed a passion for working in the behavioral health field, a professional devotion she now shares with her students in the classroom and in the field. The continuing stigma of mental illness, Tan says, often delays people from seeking treatment – treatment that can make a substantial difference in their lives. “As students begin to develop an understanding of these patients, especially when they are immersed with this population, their compassion and empathy grows considerably. They see patients as people. That makes all the difference.”
Sharing Expertise, Expanding Knowledge
Luciano not only works closely with patients and students, but in the community as well. She delivers talks at senior centers in an effort to expand understanding of the impact of medications on ongoing care, and organizes an event which aims to bring in areas college students to show them the diverse opportunities within pharmacy. She has been published in professional journals, and is on the brink of launching research that will involve metabolic syndrome monitoring –monitoring the side effects of medication (atypical antipsychotics) on the body, which can bring about increases in blood sugar, blood pressure, or weight. Luciano – who praises the intensity of the USJ Pharmacy curriculum model – serves as faculty advisor for the student chapter of the Connecticut Society of Health System Pharmacists and the Class of 2015, placing herself on the frontlines of the resolute effort to produce top caliber pharmacists in USJ’s steadily-growing and well-regarded fledgling program. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
B.S., University of Connecticut
Pharm.D., University of Connecticut