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Future pharmacist 'has a natural instinct'

April 15, 2005|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Because Jenny Knipe gets "queasy" at the site of blood, she realized she'd probably never become a nurse like her mother. But that didn't stop the Smithsburg native from finding her place in the health-care field.

"Growing up watching my mom care for people also influenced me to want to help people in need," she said.

In May, the 25-year-old honor student will graduate from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore. Knipe, who could have applied to other cities, recently was hired as a pharmacy intern at Weis Pharmacy on Eastern Boulevard in Hagerstown.

"I think it's nice that she's decided to come back home and work where she was raised," said Joe Scalese, Weis Pharmacy manager.

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After she passes her state pharmacy licensing examinations for Maryland and West Virginia, Knipe plans to work in Hagerstown or neighboring West Virginia.

"I've always seen myself as a community pharmacist. I like interacting with patients," said Knipe, who looks forward to helping patients understand the importance of properly taking medication.

The 1998 Smithsburg High School graduate earned her associate's degree in biology from Hagerstown Community College in 2001.

At the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Knipe's professor, Dr. Lynn McPherson, said Knipe's performance during her hospice field work was exceptional. For one month, Knipe assisted McPherson's hospice team in working with hospice patients and their families.

"Not every student is cut out to do it. She's smart, but she's also very caring and empathetic. She had the right touch," McPherson said.

She praised Knipe for having perfect interpersonal skills for dealing with patients who are approaching the end of life.

"She has a natural instinct," McPherson said.

Knipe's mother, Linda Eccard, has worked in the medical field for more than 30 years and is a nurse with Panhandle Home Health in Martinsburg, W.Va.

She said her daughter has always been a sensitive person, recalling Knipe's response to a Christmas story on television when she was 2 years old.

"I woke up and she was crying. I asked her brother what happened and he said, 'Oh, Rudolph left home, that's all,'" Eccard said.

The youngest of two children, Jenny has worked a part-time job since she was 15 years old and she's financed most of her college education, Eccard said.

And while she's always been sensitive to the needs of others, Eccard said, a church mission trip to Puerto Rico increased her daughter's compassion for people.

In a profession long dominated by males, Knipe said she represents a growing number of women entering the pharmaceutical field.

"In my class, we started out with 30 males and 100 females. It's a great opportunity. It's rewarding professionally, financially and personally," she said.

And, she added, "It's a good career for women who want to work part time and raise children."

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