Alyssa is a resident assistant for B.E.S.T. Hall on Busch Campus from Middletown, N.J. She is completing her fifth year in a six year pharmacy program.

On pharmacy...

I lost my cousin in high school due to a drug reaction. I was a freshman in high school and he was a sophomore. We lived five blocks away from each other.  It was a real shock because on Friday we were supposed to see each other but my aunt told me my cousin had the flu. On Sunday morning, we received a phone call that he was in the hospital and had passed. It was very shocking for my whole family. Losing my cousin was the reason why I decided to go into healthcare.

Educating parents and patients is really important to me. A lot of people don’t know the right questions to ask or don’t know what to look out for. You want to be able to do the best for the person that you care about. You want to be there, looking for changes looking for something that’s wrong, even if you’re not a pharmacist or a doctor.  

My ideal goal is to do a residency in either pediatrics or pediatric oncology because I went into pharmacy to help kids.  During my time at Rutgers, I have been really active in all the pediatric societies. I have made sure that I volunteered with RU for Kids. I am also on eboard for the Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (PPAG). I think that working with kids gives you new life every day because they always have hope that seems to never goes out, even in the worst situation. Children always see the best in every situation. Their positivity makes you want stay positive about everything that’s happening in your life.

Being a resident assistant (RA)...

This is the end of my fourth year as an RA. I started as an RA during my sophomore year.  One of the best parts about being an RA is having a supportive staff. My staff has become my home away from home and my second family.  The RA staff is made up of people of every background and every type of major. It’s great to learn from one another. I learned a lot about others and other cultures but, at the same time, finding what we had in common. Some of my closest friends were also my RA mentors. These RA mentors who are also in the pharmacy program have helped guide me. Even now, though some of them are not RAs anymore, I can still text them any time of day.  I might ask “how do I do this” or “what do I say”, and getting that advice is what I need to get through the day.

I think one of my favorite parts is seeing how the staff changes every year. You could see how newer staff members will start doing things that older staff members have done before but changing it up and making it their own. Whether that’s taking a program that somebody else has done for the last four years and just changing it a little bit and then the next year gets changed a little bit more and then suddenly you have something new.

Approach on being a RA…

I always try to give a voice to the people that either don’t have one or don’t know they have one. The patient interaction and the resident-RA interaction is very similar. Both cases you’re there to help others. I want to help my residents, I want to make sure they get to their goals, I want to help them get to graduation, I want to help them find the resources that they need. A  lot of people think it’s about policy but it’s more about caring for your residents. I always try to say “hello” and try to brighten their day. 

On advice for new resident assistants (RA)...

One thing that I didn’t do when I was a new RA was ask for help. I thought asking for help was showing weakness. Now I know not take everything on by yourself and if you feel like you need help, ask. It’s okay if you don’t know what to do because even after being in the job for three years you might find a situation that you might need to ask for help. It’s okay to call professional staff or just call another RA and ask, “What should I be doing in this situation?”. Life can be very unpredictable and no matter how much you train and prepare or how long you do this job you’re always going to find surprises. Whether it’s a fire drill at two o’clock in the morning and  you find that your residents don’t have shoes on, you might ask yourself “How do we get them shoes? What do I do?”. There’s always going to be things that your not prepared for. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.