PHARMACY

Walgreens’ Markes-Wilson: Extraordinary care for all

BY Richard Monks

Shauna Markes-Wilson

When she left her native Jamaica and entered St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., two decades ago, 16-year-old Shauna Markes-Wilson aspired to be a pediatrician. However, it wasn’t long before a chance meeting altered those plans and sent her career in a slightly different direction.

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“I met another student from the Caribbean; his name was Angel, and he was indeed my guardian angel,” the store manager at a Walgreens pharmacy in Atlanta’s Piedmont Hospital recalled. “He was an enthusiastic pharmacy major and pointed me in the direction of my current path.”

At that point in her life, she said, taking courses in pharmacy was only a way to prepare for medical school.

“But somewhere between the fourth and fifth year, I fell in love with pharmacy,” Markes-Wilson said. “I was intrigued by how drugs worked in the body and the impact that pharmacists have on the lives of patients in the community. The more I learned about the profession, the more excited I was to become a pharmacist.”

Fifteen years later, Markes-Wilson heads an 18-person pharmacy staff (seven pharmacists and 11 technicians) that provides traditional and specialty medications at Piedmont Hospital. She and the other pharmacists in her pharmacy provide care for a range of complex conditions, including cancer, hepatitis C, HIV, multiple sclerosis, rheumatology and organ transplants.

In addition, the pharmacy provides medication counseling and injection training, and helps patients get financial help through co-pay assistance and free drug programs.

Working with patients who are dealing with complex conditions and who often face financial hardships is both challenging and rewarding, and helps her remember what initially drove her to pursue a career in health care.

“I thrive on helping our patients,” Markes-Wilson said. “It’s music to my ears to hear from a hepatitis C patient that he or she achieved a cure, and we were able to help them obtain the medication. And, I feel great reward when I can help an oncology patient without insurance gain access to a life-saving chemotherapy drug.”

Possessing what she described as “extreme passion” for her work, Markes-Wilson said she tries to lead by example, demanding that her pharmacy staff provide patients with the utmost in care.

“Our No. 1 focus is giving extraordinary customer care to every patient, all the time,” she said. “After that, everything else will fall into place.”

That same dedication to giving patients the highest level of care extends to Markes-Wilson’s work outside the pharmacy where she regularly works with such organizations as the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and Delete Blood Cancer; participates in such community-based health initiatives as AIDS walks and hepatitis C support groups; and volunteers with HERO for Children, an organization that assists, teaches and mentors underprivileged children living with AIDS.

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