Although Chuck Lawrence, pharmacist, has traveled to more than 70 countries and enjoyed many adventures, his heart belongs to Akron. As a child, Chuck and his parents traveled domestically. Later, Chuck’s family visited England, where his dad, a World War II Royal Air Force veteran, grew up. Through his travels, Chuck learned to see people and cultures from a different perspective. Still, when it came time to choose a place to live and work after pharmacy school graduation, Chuck chose Akron so he could live near his tight-knit family.
For 38 years ago, Chuck has worked at Akron Children’s. On August 24, Chuck plans to fill his last prescription and retire. He looks forward to globetrotting around the world, enjoying dinners at Luigi’s Restaurant in Akron and spending time with friends.
What brought you to Children’s?
I had earned my pharmacy degree from the Ohio State University. My friend and I wanted to go on a 4-week cross-country road trip out West and into Canada before I looked for a job. Upon returning to Akron, my uncle had heard that Children’s was hiring a pharmacist. When I arrived to fill out an application, Cecilia Dugan in Human Resources said Children’s only accepted applications on certain days. The day I showed up wasn’t one of them, but she said if I filled out an application, she would take mine to the pharmacy and add it to the pile. If it wasn’t for her kindness and going that extra mile, I might not have gotten the job!
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
I’ve been a pharmacist at Children’s for nearly 4 decades. When I first started, we closed at 9 p.m. every night. Now, we’re staffed 24 hours a day. For the last 14 years, I’ve worked the afternoon shift, which means I work 7 days consecutively, then take 7 days off in a row. It’s made it easier for me to travel as much as I do. Over the years, there have been many innovations and complexities in patient drug therapy, particularly with chemotherapeutic agents.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
I was part of a group that began the pharmacy’s IV room program. The IV room is a sterile area where we obtain and prepare IV medications. I designed, created and maintained the IV room compounding sheets that included reconstitution guidelines, final infusion concentrations, infusion times, stability and dosing information for every drug we prepared in the IV room. For years, these sheets provided Children’s pharmacists with invaluable information when compounding and checking IV medications before we computerized this information.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
There’s been a shift toward a total team approach with less hierarchy and a greater emphasis on patient safety and medication management. When I first started, if you called an attending physician to question a medication order, you might get growled at. Now, we’re more likely to be thanked. Hospital pharmacy has evolved from a drug distribution function to one where we’re an essential, accountable provider within patient-centered, team-based health care. You see this especially in the specialty areas, such as the PICU, NICU and hematology/oncology, where there are advance practice pharmacists in the units.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
My interactions with the residents. If we call them with a question or to verify a dose, they’re usually very appreciative. I’ve also enjoyed being part of the pharmacy where everyone cares about doing the job right.
What do you look forward to the most in retirement?
Waking up and not having to be anywhere at any specific time.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
The years go by faster than you realize. Enjoy the journey because the destination arrives quicker than you think!
What music do you like? Where and how do you listen to it?
My tastes are eclectic. I own two 400-disc CD players, so I turn them on and let them randomly pick songs as they revolve through the Doors, the Carpenters or an English Pub song!
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Travel! I’ve visited some unusual destinations, including North Korea, Ethiopia, Iran, Myanmar, Madagascar, Uzbekistan and Tibet. In 2017, I was lucky enough to have met my girlfriend on a trip to Israel, with whom I’ve now taken five trips. She lives in the U.K., which has been a challenge. We’re still trying to figure out if we can make it work long-term. But hey, I’m retired now!