Passion for service leads to career choice
From a tender age, Samaria Kumar knew she wanted to spend her life serving others, but she was unsure which career would fulfill that desire while facilitating what she calls her ambivert personality.
"Different environs bring out different sides of me. Based on where I am, the mood I'm in or who I'm talking to, I can be an introvert or an extrovert. I'm a bit of both, so it was difficult finding a career that would suit me," Kumar explained.
Her answers to the career question came when she was about to graduate from Clarendon College, and her father encouraged her to apply to the University of Technology's (UTECH) pharmacy programme. Kumar admitted that she scoffed at the suggestion initially because of her limited knowledge about the career.
"I remember smirking and asking him what the career was about, because all I knew was that pharmacists gave out pills," Kumar recalled.
After much research on the field, she realised it suited her well, so she yielded to her father's request and was accepted into the five-year programme.
"It was a big challenge and extremely tedious. I was fascinated by all the information I had to process in order to become a pharmacist. Even after completing your university degree, you're not done yet. You have to sit an exam by the Pharmacy Council of Jamaica," Kumar shared.
Now, the 27-year-old is a licensed pharmacist employed to the Southern Regional Health Authority. She is based at the Chapelton Community Hospital in Clarendon, but her services extend to adjoining communities.
Contrary to what Kumar says is a common misconception, pharmacists are not just pill dispensers.
"On a daily basis, I ensure that patients get the right drug, at the right dose, right frequency and right duration. I also have to ensure that the patients are thoroughly educated on all the necessary information about the drugs they are prescribed," Kumar explained.
Despite the rigours of her job, the joy and satisfaction of seeing positive results in her patients makes it all worth it.
"I remember a couple had come in for a particular drug, and before giving it to them, I counselled them on its use and all the side effects it can have. They thanked me so much and congratulated me on doing a good job because they said they had been to many other places and no one ever told them about the side effects of the drug," Kumar shared.
As is the case with the wider medical field in Jamaica, Kumar is often hampered by a lack of resources to effectively carry out her duties, but like a true Jamaican, she admits, "you haffi tun you hand mek fashion" to get the job done.
Kumar says she hopes to further her career in a few years by pursuing the Doctor of Pharmacy degree. For aspiring pharmacists, she advises they should prepare for a challenge.
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do," she said.