Cecilia Speck: At the Intersection of Public Health and Pharmacy

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Are Ohio pharmacists ready for the public health challenges that climate change may bring?

Cecilia “Cece” Speck, an Ohio Northern University pharmacy student, set out to find the answer.

Her dream career lies at the intersection of pharmacy and public health. To prepare for this unique path, she’s minoring in public health and chemistry and gaining experience as a researcher, medical writer, and presenter.

Cece recently conducted important research into Ohio pharmacists’ perceptions on climate change and its impact on patient care in the future. She collaborated on this project with ONU professors Natalie DiPietro Mager, PharmD, Ph.D., professor of pharmacy practice, and Jay Mager, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences

“We discovered that most pharmacists think of climate change as having a global impact, but not a local impact,” said Cece. “We found an opportunity to provide education to help pharmacists prepare for what may be coming down the road.”

Photo of Cece and others

Cece noted, for example, that pharmacists could benefit from continuing education on vector-borne diseases, such as West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which scientists predict will increase due to climate change. Additional education opportunities include the impact of higher temperatures and wildfires on asthma and heart condition patients; and preparedness during weather-related emergencies such as floods and storms.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) invited Cece to present her research findings at the organization’s Annual Meeting and Expo in Atlanta, Ga., in November 2023. Additionally, Cece co-authored a paper with her professors published in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association in April 2023

“At ONU, the professors truly care about students,” said Cece. “If I had went to a larger school, I would not have been given the amazing opportunities I’ve been given here.”

In addition to research, Cece is involved in several student organizations. She helped ONU recharter Phi Delta Chi, and she assumed a regional officer position with this professional pharmacy fraternity.

“In this role, I had the chance to meet pharmacy professionals from many different states,” she said. “I made a bunch of friends, and that has been a great experience.”

Through her educational journey, Cece discovered a passion for medical writing and for communicating with audiences about new and interesting topics. “I’m taking all these skills that I’ve gained from my research and I’m applying it to my future career,” she said. “I would like to work in medical affairs in the pharmaceutical industry.”