Childhood Diagnosis Inspired North Country Pharmacist
Special collaboration, Nancy Goss, Newport, VT
Diagnosedwith Type 1 Diabetes (commonly known as juvenile diabetes) when she was nine years old, Monika Onusseit’s life was forever changed. She was forced to meet the challenges of living with diabetes at a young age, but the disease also helped shape her future. She is now the newest pharmacist at North Country Hospital in part because of her childhood diagnosis.
“I’m happy and pleased she is here,” Mike Omar said. “She is doing a spectacular job.” Mike is a pharmacist and the Director of the hospital’s pharmacy.
Monika explained how diabetes helped take her career in a direction it
may have never taken if it weren’t for the diagnosis.
“At a young age, I experienced first-hand how medicine can help people with medical conditions live healthy, happy, and normal lives,” she explained. “When I would go into Boston to see my endocrinologist at the Children’s Hospital, I would walk right past the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) and I would see all of the pharmacy students working in the lab through the large window facing the street. Seeing those students in their white lab coats, applying all of their pharmacy skills and knowledge, really inspired me to start thinking about a career in pharmacy. I wanted to know everything that they knew. I wanted to understand medicine and be able to help other patients understand their medications. I began focusing especially on my math and science classes, and luckily I had some great teachers, who were all very encouraging. And in the end, MCPHS was the college that I decided to attend, and I became one of those very students that I used to watch through the window.
A native of Marblehead, Massachusetts, Monika, whose parents are computer programmers, graduated from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Services with a PharmD, a pharmacist’s equivalent of a doctorate’s degree. It was the same college which had helped spark her interest in healthcare as a child.
In addition to an intensive course load, she also performed rotations in a variety of settings, including hospital pharmacies and in-store pharmacies. With her education and training behind her, she decided to seek a job in a small hospital. She felt it was there she could have the most positive influence on the lives of the patients. She began work at North Country on April 1.
“This is my first time living in a rural area,” Monika said. “At first it was a little bit of a culture shock. I would hear people discussing things like how many eggs their chickens were laying, stories about deer hunting, and something called a ‘mud season’. Everyone has been super nice and friendly and I’m really happy that I got the chance to start working here and to become a part of the community.”
Monika Onusseit, North Country Hospital pharmacist, is experiencing rural life for the first time.