Signature Scholars: Sara Bosek

Fourth-year student, Sara Bosek, brings empathy and understanding to managing chronic conditions

Story by Ryan McDaniel | photo credit Sara Bosek | Published October 3, 2023

Sara Bosek headshot outside

The sound of a pop was Sara Bosek’s first indication that she had landed her jump wrong. That was quickly followed by an intense pain emanating outward from her knee in both directions. It was Sara’s senior year of high school and her final year of dance competition with the company she’d danced with since age four. This injury – an ACL and meniscus tear – would end her season early and lay her up for months.

“I thought I may never get the chance to dance again,” Sara recalls. “But, after a little time spent moping, I was able to pick myself up and keep going forward. That was what I learned from that experience; goals can be as big or as little as you make them to be, and every step forward is a win.”

Sara is now a fourth-year student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and continues to make steps forward, both big and little. On the personal side, she’s looking for dance classes in the area for adults. On the professional side, she’s leaning into a career path in ambulatory care. “In ambulatory care settings,” she shares, “pharmacists have the opportunity to work as a central part of the care team managing medications for various chronic diseases, including diabetes where my passion truly lies.”

Sara is passionate about diabetes management because she’s lived it. At age ten, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, profoundly impacting her life and the life of her family. “The diagnosis came as a complete surprise as there is no history of type 1 or type 2 diabetes in my family, so we knew next to nothing about management,” she describes. “[My first pediatric endocrinologist] did not provide adequate education or show adequate compassion to a family who was very overwhelmed by a wealth of new information and a complex schedule of insulin shots and finger sticks.”

As she adjusted to her new normal, Sara became ever more interested in medicine and the positive effects it can have on peoples’ lives. She pursued an undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Florida State University then chose the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy for her PharmD degree. At the School, she came to understand the myriad options open to pharmacists.

Ambulatory care most strongly appealed to her and she’s had ample opportunity to practice in AmCare settings throughout her time at the School. The one that stands out most notably to Sara is her work at the SHAC Clinic. “For an entire summer, I was at the clinic every week,” she shares. “The patient population we see at SHAC typically involves various chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia to name a few.”

Just before starting her final year at the School, Sara was given some welcome news; she’d been selected as one of the 2023 Signature Scholars and awarded the Frederick M. Lockwood Scholarship. This news allowed Sara to begin her final-year rotations with one less thing to worry about. “This scholarship has been a really vital opportunity for me to focus on education and not stress so much about the financial aspect of pharmacy school,” she observes. “You expect academic stress when you decide to attend professional school, however the financial aspects are more difficult to elucidate and were a larger stressor than I was ever intending. I am so grateful for the continued support of my academic journey by Mr. Clinton Pearson through the Frederick M. Lockwood Scholarship, and I cannot thank him and his family enough for this award.”

Now Sara can focus on her rotations, strengthening and deepening her patient relationships, and look ahead to graduation in May. After that, she plans to pursue an ambulatory care residency. She would also love to become a certified diabetes educator, to use her role as a pharmacist to talk with patients like herself and have an even deeper impact on their well-being.

“Dealing with a chronic illness is a heavy burden, and I think that a lot of times providers are apt to forget this when discussing plans of care with patients,” Sara says. “I think that having a provider who is a patient themselves offers a unique perspective for care and allows more room for empathy and understanding, something of which the world of medicine (and the world in general) could always use more.”