The great people and the flagship agenda are a few of the many reasons students come to LSU, but for Madeline Briley, she says LSU means so much more. From its rich history, to the beautiful oaks, to the friends she has made and to her experiences in Tiger Stadium, Briley ensures us that she has Tiger pride.
Growing up in Ville Platte, La., Briley said that she knew exactly what she wanted to be when she grew up.
“When growing up, I knew I wanted to major in fashion and become a fashion designer,” she said.
However, her degree plan changed thanks to attending a “Pharmacy Friday” event, and her father’s viewpoints about pharmacy, fashion and money.
“I attended ‘Pharmacy Friday’ and listened to the pharmacy graduates explain why they choose pharmacy and what they enjoyed about the discipline,” she said. “I could relate to them. My dad and I were talking about college, and I told him that I wanted to be a fashion designer. He said ‘You can buy all the fashion you want in pharmacy school.’ That’s not really why I chose pharmacy, but he made me think about something differently. And with my experience assisting at a little retail pharmacy in town, I’ve always liked it, but didn’t realize it could be a career path for me.”
After attending “Pharmacy Friday,” Briley said this solidified what she wanted to do. She knew there was no other place for her to attend school in pursuit of this degree than LSU.
“I choose to go to LSU for more than the sporting events,” she said. “The campus is gorgeous. It’s a feeling you can’t describe. LSU is amazing. It’s an awesome college with a beautiful campus. After visiting LSU, it created this ‘I can’t wait to go here’ feeling.”
With plans to graduate soon, Briley is majoring in kinesiology with a human movement concentration and a minor in biology sciences. Her future preparations include pharmaceutical school at the University of Louisiana at Monroe’s College of Pharmacy.
“Kinesiology is science and human movement,” she said. “It’s about the human body and the way we move. The program was geared more toward what I wanted to pursue in pharmacy, and all the prerequisites aligned perfectly. I’ve learned so much in the kinesiology program.”
“It’s commonly believed that one can only go into allied health programs with a bachelor’s in biology or kinesiology,” said Anthony Oster, counselor for LSU University College’s Center for Advising & Counseling. “But, in reality, one can major in just about anything he or she desires and still apply for allied health programs.”
Requirements for allied health programs vary, with programs averaging 60-70 hours of prerequisite coursework, including biology, chemistry, physics, anatomy and psychology.
“Pharmacy programs like to see students with undergraduate degrees, and GPAs average from 3.4 to 4.0 for competitive admission,” Oster said. “It requires that students be very academically minded and studious. You have to work hard to get into allied health programs.”
In addition to strong academics, allied health graduate schools emphasize direct patient contacts and hands-on experiences.
“Some students will volunteer or shadow professionals, yet that doesn’t have the same advancements as one-on-one patient care,” Oster said. “LSU understands this focus. Our academic programs offer fantastic internship opportunities for students to acquire direct patient care while still in school.”
The healthcare field is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative industries in the country. Every day, the demand for trained and qualified healthcare professionals increases, which also means the allied health programs are increasing selectivity among candidates.
LSU University College has more than 150 incoming freshman each year interested in pre-pharmacy, and more than 1,200 students enrolled in academic disciplines tracking for allied health and pre-nursing career goals.
“Madeline is one of the few students who come through LSU and stay the entire four years,” Oster said. “It’s hard to leave after just the first two years, yet when students commit to the four years, they receive a richer experience that is not like any other.”
After speaking with Oster, Briley found this to be true. She said that she has learned and gained much through her varied experiences at LSU and in the greater Baton Rouge community.
“I’ve made some of the best friends of my life,” Briley said. “I joined Kappa Delta Sorority and saw the seniors graduating. I too wanted these experiences and the honor to graduate from LSU as an alumna. Now, I will always have a legacy here.”
Briley said she wishes people knew that, while pharmacy can be a very difficult field in which to major, it can prove to be greatly rewarding.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “If you have a goal, it’s going to be challenging. But, it’s going to be worth it in the end. You have to see the bigger picture in life.”
Allied health programs value student engagement and involvement. LSU has several active student organizations on campus for pre-professional programs, including the Pharmacy Society and Pre-Nursing Health Organization.
“The Pharmacy Society hosts pharmacy schools not just from in-state, but we host schools from all over the country to recruit LSU students,” Briley said. “My leadership and ownership at an officer level in the society provides me a step forward in the field and in graduate school.”
Briley served as president of the Pharmacy Society and, through the organization, learned about a paid internship as a pharmacy technician at the LSU Student Health Center. There, her responsibilities consist of filling prescriptions for faculty, staff and students, and advising them on concerns about their health and prescriptions.
The Student Health Center’s pharmacy fills approximately 170 prescriptions per day, and offers a wide range of over-the-counter medications, all at an affordable price. The pharmacy fills prescriptions from the Student Health Center’s practitioners, as well as outside physicians and practitioners. Likewise, if a patient received a prescription from their hometown physician, the Student Health Center’s pharmacy can fill that prescription as well. LSU Student Health Center’s pharmacy differs from big-box chain pharmacies, as it doesn’t exist to make a profit.
“We are here to service our LSU community and our student body,” said Carolyn P. Lancon, supervisor of the LSU Student Health Center.
“As pharmacy technicians, LSU students remain focused on their academics,” Lancon said. “Students are able to work on-campus, around their class schedules, in a learning environment, receiving extensive hands-on training and experience working with patients.”
When asked what she loves most about her job, Briely giggled and said it’s the students, her peers, that allow her to enjoy what she does.
“Madeline does an amazing job,” Lancon said. “I have trained numerous students that have gone into the medical field. Madeline takes responsibility, and does the necessary research on all of her patient’s health care needs. She will continue to be very successful in pharmaceutical school and in her career.”
“I truly enjoy helping faculty, staff and students from making sure their prescriptions are correct to advising them on what types of medications and ointments they should use for particular health issues, as well as consulting patients about the effects of these particular medicines,” Briley said.
“Pharmacy is a wonderful profession,” Lancon added. “Pharmacists counsel patients and have clinical interactions with doctors, as far as medication therapy and providing over the counter advice. Pharmacists provide a great service to physicians, especially if patients are unable to get appointments. We deliver health information with confidence and consider all of the patient’s health conditions. Pharmacists are definitely an integrated part of the health care family.”
Briley believes that the most important thing she will take away from attending LSU is the experience and getting the opportunity to learn and know that she is on the right path for the future.
“I have learned a lot here at LSU, not only about the prescriptions and people skills, but also I have first hand experience that reassures me every day that I have the knowledge and expertise to pursue my future career goals,” Briley said. “This was definitely the best career path, and LSU was instrumental in providing me the foundation to realize it.”
Success in the allied health programs requires students to plan in advance, which can be difficult for many students. But the most successful students in the healthcare fields have a five-year academic plan and career goals, as well as aspirations of which pharmacy school, graduate school, or allied health program students seek admittance into. University College is LSU’s starting place for students getting their future careers off to a great start.
“I encourage LSU students interested in allied health programs to visit with me early in their academic career, ideally in their freshman year, so that we can start planning for graduate school and the application processes,” Oster said. “Through advising, students will be directed to resources and internships. Again, obtaining experiences with one-on-one patient care is one of the most valuable opportunities a student can have.”
For many students entering allied health programs, the genuine desire to help people is cornerstone. Many students express the calling to “save a life,” ease someone’s pain while they’re sick, or assist persons through a tough medical issue. While the healthcare industry provides successful living allowances, it’s the love for the field that students like Briley choose pharmacy.
“It will be bittersweet to graduate and leave, but I’m ready to pursue my passion and my career,” Briley said.