The Skills of a Leader: Alumnus Leads by UF Example
Tom Pierson Pharm. D. ’16 may very well have been a leader before he attended the University of Findlay; however, according to him, UF strengthened his leadership skills just that much more. His time at Findlay, he said, enabled him to learn alongside the best faculty and to develop leadership skills as a member of residence life as well as a leader of multiple student organizations. He explained that he uses those skills and other lessons learned specifically from his experiences as a pharmacy student at UF every day now that he is the Pharmacy Manager of Specialty Clinics and Ambulatory Services at Cleveland Clinic.
Pierson, born and raised in upstate New York, falls right in the middle of a family of nine children–six sisters and two brothers–and circumstances like this one can either naturally lend themselves to someone contented with being in the comfort of “the middle,” or to strive toward recognition and success independently. Pierson, who said that he likes to “approach every barrier to success as an opportunity rather than a problem,” clearly falls into the latter category.
For his first trip to Findlay, Pierson was with his mother, driving from New York through a blizzard back in 2010 to the campus. He had heard little to nothing of the city and UF prior, but, after a busy day that included interviewing with Don Stansloski, who was the Dean of the College of Pharmacy at the time, auditioning for the UF bands with professor of music Jack Taylor, and touring the campus with a student ambassador, he felt the connection that is so familiar to countless soon-to-be Oilers. “Every person we met was friendly and their love for the school was obvious to me,” he recalled. “As soon as I walked into the College of Pharmacy as a prospective student, I felt at home. I knew when I left the campus that day that this was where I wanted to be.”
Pierson wanted to be at UF for many different reasons, he said. His musical audition was successful, he explained, as he played trumpet in marching, jazz, and concert bands. He worked as a resident assistant for two years and a resident director for another two years; as a teaching assistant for two classes; as a student tutor, and as a participant in multiple student organizations at UF. He also interned at Scarbrough’s Pharmacy, a family-owned pharmacy on South Main Street in Findlay. To put it lightly, Pierson was a busy man. But that’s all a part of his many different philosophies. Along with seeing barriers to success as opportunities, there is “taking advantage of every opportunity,” “never being discouraged by failure, and “focusing on maximizing strengths and not ‘fixing’ weaknesses”– in other words, seeing life through the eyes of a leader.
He certainly sees his share of “barriers to success,” at work, but Pierson chooses to focus on the many opportunities to guide and develop pharmacists and other healthcare professionals who, according to him, “make a tremendous impact in the lives of the patients treated.” His role, among other things, focuses on developing and leading pharmacy services for patients being seen in outpatient ambulatory clinics [where medical services are performed on an outpatient basis, without admission to a hospital or other facility], as well as participating in the education of pharmacy students and residents. He is also part of measuring and reporting patient outcomes and improving the quality of services provided, and helps to advocate for and continuously expand the profession of pharmacy.
Upon graduating from UF, Pierson completed a two-year Health-System Pharmacy Administration residency and concurrent master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI. The residency was a specialized one that focused specifically on training pharmacists to be leaders in the profession and in large academic health-systems. He now lives in Broadview Heights, Ohio and is engaged to Catie Renna, an oncology pharmacist at Cleveland Clinic’s Main Campus.
Pierson added one final bit of advice for current and future students: “Give back to the students at the University of Findlay after you graduate. Always leave things better than how you found them.”
Spoken like a true leader.