2023 Grad Stories: Jarod Luhm

May 11, 2023

Blazing a Non-Traditional Trail through Perseverance and Hard Work

After 17 years of working, going to school off and on, getting married, and raising two children, Dr. Jarod Luhm truly earned his PharmD degree as a recent graduate from the CHSU College of Pharmacy in the Class of 2023.

A Fresno native and Fresno High School graduate, Dr. Jarod Luhm’s non-traditional pathway into a pharmacy career began at the age of fifteen when he started working.

“When I was younger, I had no idea what a pharmacist was or what they did,” said Dr. Luhm.

He was introduced to pharmacy by chance while working at Cedar Lanes Bowling Alley for minimum wage and needing to pursue a second job just to make ends meet.

“One of my buddies from the bowling league I was a part of, got me a job at Brooks Home Health Care, a home infusion pharmacy. So, I worked in the warehouse packing boxes but eventually I got transferred to the pharmacy and got more exposure into the actual pharmacy side of the field,” said Dr. Luhm.

That experience eventually led him to become a pharmacy technician. The next year, he started working in a Walmart pharmacy and he continues to work there today because of the career guidance they have given him.

“I’ve had great pharmacists and managers that I’ve worked with that really pushed me and helped me realize my passion for the field,” said Dr. Luhm.

After working as a pharmacy technician for about 3 years, he decided he wanted to advance his career further by becoming a licensed pharmacist.

The CHSU College of Pharmacy offered a Doctor of Pharmacy program that gave preference to applicants with bachelor’s degrees but did not require a bachelor’s degree so long as all other requirements were met. This provided Dr. Luhm with a local option to pursue pharmacy school, since he had attended community college for a short time before dropping out to work. He decided to go back to complete the prerequisite courses and other requirements.

“I went back to school because a pharmacist I worked with told me that I needed to go to pharmacy school because I was really good at this. So, this pushed me a little harder,” said Dr. Luhm

His wife was a major inspiration for him and pushed him to pursue his pharmacy career after starting a family. He started and stopped attending college several times and ended up signing on to a fast-track pathway program to help him complete his prerequisites. However, he hit a roadblock when his college counselors told him his GPA wasn’t high enough to meet the program’s requirements.

“So, I went back to college, and it was really hard. I dropped out three times before I went through with it. I attempted to go through the Clovis Community College pathway they had with CHSU. So, I did all my undergraduate classes at Fresno City College and Clovis Community College. And I went through everything I needed to do the fast-track path, but I was told by counselors that I didn’t qualify because of my GPA issues from when I first started college in 2008.”

But he did not give up. He attended 4-5 visitation days at CHSU and worked closely with the Director of Admissions at CHSU to explore his options.

“She guided me and helped me to get enrolled into the CHSU pharmacy school and get through the applications process without doing that pathway through city college and a bachelor’s degree. I didn’t obtain any degrees before coming to CHSU, just the prerequisites through community college,” said Dr. Luhm.

During his full-time pharmacy school program at CHSU, Dr. Luhm met additional challenges, including the financial burden of balancing work to support his family, student loans, the pandemic, and the loss of his biggest supporter, his grandfather. However, he continued to work hard and persevere. He was recognized on the President and Dean’s list for his academic performance and earned an annual $5,000 academic scholarship for three of his four years.

He joined the professional pharmacy fraternity, Phi Delta Chi (PDC), and served as the Worthy Chief Counselor (President) and Worthy Master of Arms in charge of enrollment and Rush.

“Rushes for fraternities like PDC and Kappa Psi, that whole process of becoming part of an organization that focuses on pharmacy was like building a family and bond and personal connection over the years. You can’t explain how valuable that was to us. We’re always going have each other to lean on and help us succeed,” stated Dr. Luhm.

He also served as a CHSU Student Ambassador, joined the CHSU chapters of the American Pharmacist Association (APhA) and Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA). He also served as the Remember the Ribbon Chair for SNPhA, creating educational material about HIV and AIDS.

During his final year in pharmacy school while completing his experiential rotations, his pharmacy career took another unexpected turn. Dr. Luhm was introduced to clinical pharmacy while on rotation at Model Drug Pharmacy.

“I fell in love with what they do. I believe that the clinical knowledge that you can obtain from doing something like that can be applied to other aspects of being a pharmacist,” he said.

After graduation and passing his board licensing exams, Dr. Luhm plans to continue working at Walmart as a pharmacist. He aspires to advance into leadership as a district or regional manager. He feels he will then have an opportunity to help make improvements from the knowledge he has gained over the last decade working there.

In addition, he will be developing his clinical skills working part-time at Model Drug Pharmacy and he will transition to a Consultant Pharmacist there after becoming licensed.

“As a consultant pharmacist I will be managing the medications for patients in long-term care facilities and making sure their medications and lab work are appropriate. Finding things that we can adjust to improve their medication therapy and make these recommendations to the doctor and a whole team of health care providers that I meet with monthly or quarterly,” said Dr. Luhm.

The Graduation Ceremony to honor Dr. Jarod Luhm and his peers in the CHSU College of Pharmacy Class of 2023 will be held Saturday, May 13, 2023.

The 2023 Grad Stories is a series dedicated to honoring our California Health Sciences University (CHSU) Doctor of Pharmacy graduates and showcasing their accomplishments throughout their time at CHSU while earning their PharmD degree.

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