Southeast Alumnus Researching, Teaching in Taiwan

CoryPassion propels Southeast Missouri State University alumnus and Fenton, Missouri, native Cory Simonavice.

A newly licensed pharmacist preparing to relocate to Taichung City, Taiwan, for a year, Cory will help to prepare future pharmacists at China Medical University (CMU) through research and education.

Cory plans to assist in several clinical pharmacy research projects in the areas of study design, data collection and manuscript drafting. He will teach several clinical pharmacy master’s degree students as well as an undergraduate international pharmacy course.

Additionally, he will work at the CMU hospital where he will be a member of a geriatric integrated care team, and he will help develop new areas for clinical pharmacy practice, such as oncology.

While pursuing his doctoral degree in pharmacy, he was vice-president and the student liaison to the political action committee of the student chapter of the American Pharmacist Association. He traveled for conferences and updated all of his fellow pharmacy students on political issues, and worked with Eric Kearny, the Ohio State Senate minority leader, to help draft new legislation expanding immunizations in Ohio. He was a member of the International Pharmacy Student Federation (IPSF), which is the global pharmacy student network. Through IPSF, he had the opportunity to travel abroad twice – once for a pharmacy shadowing experience for one month in Taiwan, and then a year later, as one of 15 pharmacy students representing the United States at the Pharmacy Student World Congress in Porto, Portugal.

Cory became interested in China Medical University following his one-month shadowing experience in Taiwan. During that time, he spent two weeks at China Medical University.

“I was deeply impressed by the level of care provided to patients both at this hospital and by the National Health Insurance program in general,” Cory says. “I also recognized that the profession of pharmacy in Taiwan was not quite at the same level as in the United States. But I could tell that CMU pharmacists had a passion for the profession and were on the leading edge in this country. I was interested in helping them become a more clinical profession, just as the profession did in the United States 10 or 15 years ago.”

For the past 10 to 15 years, pharmacists in the United States have received training focused on patient care, patient counseling, disease knowledge and correct drug prescribing he says. The profession has moved away from pharmacists counting pills behind a counter with little patient interaction to patient-focused and disease-management focused care, he says.

While in Taiwan, Cory plans to learn Chinese and expand his professional career.

“I’m looking forward to learning Chinese. I hope to be conversationally fluent by the end of my year here. I am also very grateful for the opportunity to be published in scientific journals and to practice in a clinical hospital setting that may only be available to someone with more experience in the United States,” he says.

As a freshman in college at Southeast, Cory said he was torn between his love for music and medicine. At first, he wanted to teach music. Eventually, his love for science trumped his desire to teach as a long-term career goal. However, he continued to pursue a bachelor’s degree in music from Southeast, while taking pre-pharmacy courses. This led him to graduate with a doctoral degree in pharmacy from the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy at the University of Cincinnati last May.

“I am a more diverse person because of it. I have always had many hobbies, interests and passions. Majoring in these diverse topics allowed me to learn to adapt to new environments and situations,” Cory says.

Last month, he passed his licensing exam to practice pharmacy in Ohio.

Cory gained much from his time at Southeast, including direction for his future. He selected Southeast because of the River Campus, which had just been completed, and because several of his high school friends were attending or planning to attend Southeast. He also received a scholarship to attend Southeast, where he says he gained independence and confidence.

“My time at Southeast was when I grew into an independent man,” says Cory, a 2011 Southeast graduate. “I was very involved in student organizations, in the marching band, orchestra and concert band but also in non-music areas. I am very proud to say I am a brother of Lambda Chi Alpha, Delta Phi chapter at Southeast. I was there when Lambda Chi Alpha was winning awards left and right, and being a member of that brotherhood deeply changed me into a better man and a better human being. Finding this independence gave me the strength to finish my music degree while also doing pre-pharmacy coursework and put me on the path I am on now.”

He says he hopes to use his clinical skills to provide excellent, clinically-based pharmaceutical care. He wants to work in home-based therapy or home infusion therapy, as well as community pharmacy. He plans to remain active in the advocacy of the profession as a member of professional organizations, such as the American Pharmacist Association.

To Southeast students, he offers some advice.

“Be diverse,” he says. “Follow your interests. Did you know there is a Redhawks Rugby Club at Southeast? I didn’t know the slightest thing about rugby but I joined. Following my passions lead me to winning the Concerto Competition and performing recitals in front of loved ones at Southeast as a music major. Following my passions and interests lead me to a new city to study pharmacy. Following my passions led me to become involved in international pharmacy organizations. Now I am working as a pharmacist in Taiwan. Don’t be dissuaded by the statement, ‘It’s never been done before.’ It’s never been done before because there has never been someone like you. You are unique. Follow your passions wherever they lead you. That is how you become both successful and happy because we all work best when we love our work.”