The Daily Gamecock

'It's rewarding but it's really hard': Brice Laney balances life, work as a pharmacy student

<p>Brice Laney, a fourth-year pharmacy student on March 29, 2022. &nbsp;In the last two years of the pandemic, Laney has gained a greater understanding on the importance of pharmacists.</p>
Brice Laney, a fourth-year pharmacy student on March 29, 2022.  In the last two years of the pandemic, Laney has gained a greater understanding on the importance of pharmacists.

Brice Laney gained a greater understanding of how important pharmacists have become over the last two years watching how hard they work in hospitals. 

“Before, a lot of people didn’t recognize the impact that pharmacists have in immunizing people and getting vaccines out into lesser-reached, underserved communities,” said Laney, a fourth-year pharmacy student. “Being able to see how overworked they are now just goes to show you how important they are in the healthcare system.”

Laney’s typical day begins when he wakes up around 8:00 a.m. and doesn’t end until the early hours of the next morning. Laney said his time is spent studying, in class, working as a teacher's assistant or "doing anything that revolves around pharmacy.”

“It's hard to find a balance between your personal life and your professional career, because at this point, they're so intertwined," Laney said. "But at the end of the day, you just have to remind yourself why you're there and what you're trying to do."  

As an intern at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia, Laney makes customized compound medications and delivers them to the medical staff working with the patients.

While Laney rarely interacts with patients, he said being able to positively impact the lives and treatments of children is something he takes seriously. He knows the work is necessary to the patients' condition. 

“(Many people in the profession) don’t realize just how serious their work is and how necessary it is for someone to be there to make the medications for patients because otherwise, if they don’t get them, their condition is going to worsen and they’re not going to make it,” Laney said.

Currently in his second year of USC's four-year PharmD program, Laney is completing his in-person courses. In two years, Laney will practice under the direction of a licensed pharmacist. 

Laney became a lab teacher assistant for the first-year pharmacy students last summer. In this position, he assists in the coordination of labs and grades students’ work. 

Second-year pharmacy student Anna Rayfield said it’s “awesome” to work as a teacher assistant with Laney. 

“He’s really good at what he does cause he’s really passionate about pharmacy in general, which I think is what makes him such a good TA,” Rayfield said. 

Rayfield said they balance each other in the classroom; she is soft-spoken, while Laney is confident and outspoken. 

“He is just very good at reading the room and saying how it is,” Rayfield said. “I’m very bad at confrontation, and if our students are doing poorly on their quizzes, he’s really good at getting their attention and making them realize like ‘this is what you need to be doing with studying.’”

Despite making his life look easy, Laney said his profession and the work he’s juggling today are anything but.

“It takes a lot of patience, a lot of hard work and it can be draining, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it to have a future where I can help people and hopefully make a difference in my community,” Laney said.

When he’s not working, Laney enjoys exercising, playing golf, hanging out with friends and attending organization meetings like Relay for Life.

Laney said he tries to be there for his parents and two siblings despite being more than an hour away from his home in Turbeville, South Carolina. 

“Even when he can't be there for me, he is there, like he sends me a text or (he) calls me,” said Addie Laney, Brice’s younger sister. “Last night, I had a dance competition and he called me and told me good luck and texted me ‘good job.’ So, it’s really great to have Brice as a brother.”

Though he doesn’t have a lot of free time, Laney said he tries to focus on himself in the here and now, which he said was something he struggled to recognize. 

“You feel like you pour a lot into everyone else around you and into your future career and try to be the best pharmacist or best future professional that you can be,” Laney said. “At a certain point it gets to be too much, and you just have to remember to give back to yourself.”

One of the ways he attends to himself is by seeking support from a friend who knows firsthand what it’s like to do this work. 

“Sometimes after a shift, all you want to do is sit at home and not talk to anybody, and so we try to talk to each other about it,” said Georgia Guest, third-year pharmacy student. 

Addie said she’s “very proud of him” for sticking with pharmacy even though “it’s been really hard.”

“It’s really great to see that he’s not constantly focusing on school all the time, but that he has friends, and he goes out and has fun sometimes,” Addie said.

Following graduation in May, Laney said he hopes to interview for pharmacy residencies and move to another state. His long-term goal is to become a pediatric pharmacist. 

“I’m not sure what area of pediatrics, I kind of lean towards critical care, but then I also have an interest in adult ambulatory care. Somewhere down that path,” Laney said. “Definitely residency, some post-graduate training before I want to start actively practicing as a pharmacist.”