Alex Mills joined the University of Mississippi Pharmacy School as an assistant professor of pharmacy practice in July. He comes to the school from Manchester University in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he served as an assistant professor of pharmacy.
Mills is no stranger to Ole Miss, having completed a residency in ambulatory care pharmacy in 2019. He also received his Pharm.D. from Purdue University in 2017.
Get to know Mills in the Q&A below:
Where are you from?
I spent most of my days growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, yet completed most of my pharmacy school training and residency in Indiana.
What is your educational & professional background?
I graduated from Purdue University College of Pharmacy with my Pharm.D. in 2017. I subsequently completed a community-based pharmacy residency with Walgreens and Purdue in Indianapolis, then went on to complete a specialty pharmacy residency in ambulatory care pharmacy with University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy in Jackson. After two years of residency, I spent a year as a faculty member at Manchester University in Fort Wayne, Indiana, before accepting my current position this past July.
What brought you to the University of Mississippi?
Throughout my educational and professional career, I’ve grown to appreciate the importance of research to showcase my profession’s value and improve the care of patients both from the pharmacist’s individual impact and impact working with other health care disciplines. The University of Mississippi has a strong emphasis on research that aligns with my philosophy of practice, so the additional support from the university fostering a research-friendly environment greatly appealed to me.
What will you be doing in your role at the university?
In terms of clinical practice and research, my focus will be to serve patients living with HIV in several clinical sites in the state, including research that showcases the need for expanded pharmacist-driven services for these patients. I will also teach pharmacy students mainly on the Jackson campus in their last year of classes before they start a year of clinical rotations before graduation.
What drew you to the School of Pharmacy?
My reasons are three-fold. I’ve had a long-standing interest and passion in providing care for persons living with HIV, and after some clinical experiences caring for these patients, I could see the need pharmacy pharmacist-driven care for these patients. When evaluating these opportunities across the country and comparing to my professional aspirations, this position was a perfect fit. I also appreciate the collegiality of my fellow faculty within the school; it’s clear the faculty are invested in the development of both the students, community and their colleagues within the profession of pharmacy. Last is the students. These students graduate with a sense of pride in their profession and patient care (I observed this even when I was a resident at the school), and I’m honored to act as a catalyst along their journey to personal and professional development.
What are some of your career highlights?
I’ve been very fortunate to have some experiences as early as being a student that I would consider “career highlights.” An eight-week experience in Kenya inspired me to successfully develop, implement, and publish research related to patients living with HIV. My team and I developed a medicated compression bandage with limited resources to improve the healing and quality of life of patients experiencing a stigma-magnifying condition called Kaposi Sarcoma. I’ve also been fortunate enough in my early career to publish my research from residency and receive grant funding to support my research efforts. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that many of these highlights come from what I view as a greater highlight: the mentors and colleagues that are now part of my network that continue to help me stay successful now and in years to come.
How do you describe your work or research to people outside of the field?
When it comes to patients living with HIV, science has come a long way with treatment in which many of these patients are living just as long as those without HIV. Because of that, we are starting to see these patients developing some of the other chronic health conditions that affect the rest of the world: heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. We (health care professionals and researchers) are still trying to find the best way to help these patients, and my goal is to work with other health care professionals to fill the gap in their care and improve their lives beyond just looking at the virus.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experiences?
I hope students find the area of pharmacy that ignites their passion and makes them wake up excited to learn more and impact patient care and the pharmacy profession. I like to ask my students I mentor what drives them, and even if it isn’t something I’m directly involved with, I do my best to connect them with the resources and people that continue to fuel that passion for them and hopefully lead to the development of a passionate and exceptional pharmacist.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Any chance I get to enjoy the great outdoors (without melting in the southern heat!) is a huge treat for me. I have a German Shepard mix (Ms. Wiley), so she keeps me pretty active! I’m also growing to enjoy listening to audiobooks – especially memoirs that are narrated by the authors, and dabble in home brewing beer.