I interviewed my Uncle Tom Titkemeier in November 2019, in Toledo, OH. This is THE FIRST PODCAST I ever recorded. The show notes include insights from the interview, Uncle Tom’s contact info, and organizations and websites mentioned.
There were street sweepers, dump trucks, and other heavy machines collecting leaves in the street right outside the window where we recorded this episode. I can’t hear the machines on the recording, but now you know the behind-the-scenes story! Thank you for listening, and enjoy!
Tom Titkemeier, Registered Pharmacist
1977 University of Toledo BS Pharmacy Graduate
Q: Why did you become a pharmacist?
A: Started in science classes before choosing pharmacy as a major. Needed a degree that would lead to a job. His older brother was in the pharmacy program 2 years ahead of him and set a good example.
Q: Why did you pick UT?
A: Wanted to get away from home, live on campus, and have “the college experience.” Didn’t want to go to nearby BGSU (Bowling Green State University). To learn more about the University of Toledo (UT) visit https://www.utoledo.edu. To learn more about BGSU, visit https://www.bgsu.edu.
Q: When you first graduated [pharmacy school], where did you work?
A: After interning at St. Vincent’s Medical Center (St. V’s) during pharmacy school, no job was available upon graduation. He worked at Toledo Hospital briefly instead. To learn more about Toledo Hospital, visit https://www.promedica.org/toledo-hospital/pages/default.aspx. When a job opened up at St. V’s, he went back to St. V’s for 40+ years. To learn more about St. V’s, visit https://www.mercy.com/locations/hospitals/toledo/mercy-health-st-vincent-medical-center.
Uncle Tom inspired me to become a pharmacist. I tell my Pharmacy Campers (11 graders) about him each summer at UT’s Pharmacy Summer Camp. Uncle Tom worked in the Surgery Pharmacy at St. V’s for decades. He was a team player and worked well with others. He knew how to do his job well, and I admired him. I went to work with him one day when I was in the 8th grade, ~13 years old, around 1991. I “shadowed him” at his job for a school assignment. I got to wear surgical scrubs, which looked and felt like pajamas! I watched my uncle make surgical solutions and deliver them to operating rooms. The operating room staff let me watch surgeries, and I witnessed them function as a team. I like math and science, and I love to help people. Pharmacy was a natural choice after seeing Uncle Tom at work. My students love this story. To learn more about the camp, visit https://www.utoledo.edu/pharmacy/camp/
Because Uncle Tom and I went to the same pharmacy school, we had some of the same professors. We worked as pharmacists in the same city knew many of the same people.
Uncle Tom retired after 40 years with the same hospital, at the age of 64. It was a personal choice. “You don’t know how much time you have.” Uncle Tom and his wife (my Aunt Janet) decided to retire and focus on mission work and do things that they didn’t have time to do while working. Aunt Janet retired 1 year after Uncle Tom retired. Health insurance was a consideration. He was able-bodied and at the top of his game professionally.
“Pharmacists never retire. They just die.” Uncle Tom used to tease me about this when I was in college. He did retire, however, which spoiled the myth he joked with me about for 20 years!
Q: What are you doing with your license now that you retired? Are you giving up being a pharmacist?
A: He is still licensed as a pharmacist. So is Aunt Janet. They volunteer as pharmacists and also spread the word of God to other parts of the world on Mission Trips with Christian Medical and Dental Association. To learn more about Christian Medical and Dental Association, visit https://cmda.org. He has been to Central America, The Gambia in Africa, and Beirut. Language barriers are a challenge.
Q: When will you give up your license?
A: No date in mind. Keeping up is more of a challenge in retirement, but not difficult.
Mentoring young people is important. You never know when time spent with a young person will have an impact. Be a positive influence.
Being able to focus and listen is important to being a pharmacist.
Q: What words of advice would you give to a young person considering a career in pharmacy or pharmaceutical sciences?
A: Have perseverance. Competition is a big barrier to getting into pharmacy school. Persevere, focus, and stay on the path.