Interview by Derek Grosso
Name: Katrina (Kwan) Leung
Profession: Pharmacist in Charge at Gifthealth
Neighborhood: Northeast Columbus
Education: Doctor of Pharmacy, Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Science with a Minor in Business from The Ohio State University, Registered Pharmacist in Ohio, APhA Certified Immunizer
Community Involvement: The Ohio Pharmacist Association, Volunteer at CHA Animal Shelter
Words to live by: “Always treat others the way you want to be treated.”
Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter
Give us a snapshot of your career path:
I came to the US from Hong Kong in 2004 as a junior in high school. At that point I still didn’t know what I wanted to do other than being somehow involved in healthcare. My college advisor saw my love of calculus and chemistry and said, “Sounds like we have a pharmacist here!” so I applied to the Pharmaceutical Science major at The Ohio State University and was able to continue my education in their Doctor of Pharmacy program there as well after receiving my bachelor.
I worked at Walgreens Pharmacy as an intern during pharmacy school and stayed with the company after I received my pharmacist license. I was promoted to pharmacy manager not long after and managed a couple locations in underserved areas in Columbus. I started my new position in January 2021 as the pharmacist in charge at Gifthealth, which is a start-up healthcare technology company whose vision is to help improve medication accessibility across the whole country.
What gets you up in the morning and what keeps you going through the workweek?
During the week, knowing that I will go to work and make a difference in patients’ lives across the country gets me up and going in the morning. I also precept pharmacy interns from The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, meaning I get to train the next generation of pharmacists. There are very exciting opportunities that not everyone gets to have. However, on my days off, my cats Elly and Jiji are responsible for waking me up early morning and get my day going!
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
Every single preceptor, pharmacist and pharmacy manager I worked with during my career helped guide me to become who I am today. They gave me such valuable advice on both how to be a pharmacist and how to navigate my way in the field of pharmacy. Dr. Christine Murphy, Dr. Bijal Patel, Dr. Jeremy Peters, and Dr. Doreen Collins are several of the most important mentors who gave me opportunities and serve as my role models.
What do you do to unwind?
I make sure to keep a workout routine of at least 5 days a week because I believe staying active is the best way to keep stress level low. I try my best to free up time in my schedule to grab dinner or a drink with friends once a week or so. I also try to fit in an episode of any shows I’m currently watching every night to unwind at the end of my day.
What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus?
My favorite spots to hang out with friends are Pins and Forbidden Root in Easton since I live very close. However, The Refectory Restaurant is the best restaurant for a fancier night out in Columbus.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a pianist growing up, then as a teen I realized it takes more than just a couple hours of practice every day to be a performing artist. So, I decided I would go the science route instead.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
“Political Pharmacist Podcast” – A podcast that tackles the political issues and barriers that limit the impact of pharmacists to better healthcare for all. I recommend both pharmacists and non-pharmacists to check that out.
What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
I feel honored to be recognized for my work in serving patients in the community. Sometimes I get so buried in work that I forget there are actual people on the receiving end of what I do and this is a good reminder for that.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
Columbus is very interesting. Although this is not a big city like where I came from, the people here are so diverse and there is so much going on and the city has been growing in an exponential rate in the last 15 years or so. I feel lucky to be living in such a dynamic city.
The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2021 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Future Possibilities and Zipline Logistics for their support of this awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2021” »