2021-22: Yardlee Kauffman
In high school, Dr. Kauffman was most interested in math and science. She traces her early motivation to pursue science and medicine to the Advanced Biology class. During her high school career, she volunteered at Whysong’s Pharmacy, where she discovered the clinical application of medicine to patient care and education. These early experiences guided her decision to enroll in the pre-pharmacy program at Pitt and later apply to pharmacy school. During pharmacy school, she was a regular volunteer at a clinic in Pittsburgh serving vulnerable populations such as individuals recovering from substance abuse disorders, refugees, and those without health insurance. She also completed clinical experiences with the Indian Health Service in Arizona and Alaska, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Philippines. The culmination of these experiences sparked an interest in public health, particularly the local and global factors that impact individual and community health, which continue to shape her career.
After her fellowship, she began a faculty position as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy where she taught research methods, pharmacoeconomics, and public and global health in addition to coordinating an interprofessional clinic for pharmacy and medical students in Camden, New Jersey. Dr. Kauffman currently works for the international humanitarian medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF; Doctors without Borders) as a mission pharmacist. She has completed assignments in sub-Saharan Africa, notably South Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Kenya, working to increase access to health care services. She resides in Philadelphia between missions, where she freelances as a medical writer and volunteers in the community with refugee populations.
Yardlee’s never-ending enthusiasm for learning and her passionate interest in serving others continues to be at the center of her personal and professional goals. She highly values mentoring relationships, particularly from female mentors who inspired her. Yardlee has recognized the impact of vulnerability as an important component of her professional journey, believing that “things that make you uncomfortable make you grow.” Being scared is a part of the personal and professional growth process as well as understanding that the learning process does not end on graduation no matter how many times you have graduated.
When asked what advice she would offer to today’s high school students, Yardlee emphasizes to optimize the path you’re on, even if that means taking an unintended detour, and extracting learning from those experiences. A key step to discovering your way is to find a mentor. She remarks that her mother was one of her first mentors. “Some of the best advice I received was from her, who instead of allowing me to take an easier class schedule my senior year of high school (which would have been just fine with me) forced me to take a more rigorous slate of courses. This ultimately prepared me for the rigors of college and established discipline.” Yardlee also says to “be curious and ask questions about areas that interest you, and importantly, be open-minded to new opportunities and where they might lead you.”