Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Western New England University College of Pharmacy, age 37
Izabela Collier has a passion for diabetes treatment — but an even greater one for making sure people never need that treatment.
At Western New England University, her advisor suggested studying pharmacy because of her strong background in science. But after graduation, working for Baystate Health, she was unsure how she wanted to focus that degree. “Relentlessly, I would be asking my manager to switch me around to different areas of pharmacy.”
At the same time, she began to realize how many patients had diabetes — and, more significantly, how many people might be able to avoid it if they just understood how. “I really wanted to be on the other side of the spectrum, not just to be there to help them with crisis management, but to provide them with education so they never get to that stage,” Collier said.
So she became a certified diabetes instructor. She met a nurse and a dietitian who were as driven about the issue as she was, and together they launched the Diabetes Center of Western Massachusetts. “It was a fantastic opportunity from a business perspective, but it was very time-consuming.”
After three years, a different opportunity opened up at WNEU — this one as a clinical assistant professor of Pharmacy Practice. “I enjoy educating, and I really wanted to educate students. The teachers there made a tremendous difference in my life. Now I can give back what was given to me.”
Meanwhile, Collier established diabetes pharmacy clinics at two Veterans Affairs healthcare systems, in Springfield and Leeds, the success of which was recognized by the American College of Clinical Pharmacists in its Ambulatory Care Survival Guide. She also received a grant from the National Assoc. of Chain Drug Stores to provide community health screenings for the public, and she’s a founding member of the West Local Networking Group, a local chapter of the American Assoc. of Diabetes Educators.
“I’m passionate about working one-on-one with patients, focusing on chronic disease management and the pharmacist’s role in it,” said Collier, a native of Poland. “It’s not just medication dispensing, but re-education for chronic disease management. There’s a lack of education out there, and the pharmacist can provide that link between provider and patient.”
— Joseph Bednar