October is American Pharmacists Month, a time to recognize the critical role pharmacists play in our health, communities, and day-to-day lives. This past year has been especially challenging for all health care professionals, and we thank the many pharmacists, technicians and support staff who help Enclara care for nearly 100,000 hospice patients each day. This month we are proud to highlight our own Foday Sayon and his unconventional journey to becoming a clinical pharmacist.
Foday Sayon is the epitome of what it means to be a clinical pharmacist, from his ability to empathize with hospice nurses to his mastery of symptom management pharmacology. The funny thing is, he never aspired to be a pharmacist at all.
Ten years ago, Sayon was working his way through college as a cashier at Rite Aid. One day, a pharmacy technician called out sick and the pharmacist asked Sayon to help out for the day. Sayon had no prior experience behind the pharmacy counter, but he was a natural when it came to connecting with patients. At the end of his shift, the pharmacist asked him to stay on in the pharmacy and train as a technician.
At the time, Sayon was finishing up his biochemistry degree at Temple University and a technician role just seemed like a way to make a little more money. He eventually landed an internship in the Enclara Patient Care Operations Call Center where he found himself really enjoying the interpersonal aspect of helping hospice nurses. “They would say ‘I really enjoy talking to you’ or ‘you go above and beyond’ and I realized that’s actually my strength, understanding and expressing empathy,” Sayon said.
Sayon decided to remain at Enclara upon obtaining his pharmacy technician license, eventually moving into a training role where he could mentor others. Along with instructing new hires on products and processes, he would often share a quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Over time, Sayon’s Enclara colleagues started urging him to take the next step and apply to pharmacy school. It was a tough decision – he hadn’t planned on another degree and had invested a lot in his biochemistry education. However, by then he knew how much he valued the ability to make a difference. Pharmacy was a great way to use his science education to help others, so he took the plunge.
In 2020, Sayon graduated with his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Temple’s School of Pharmacy. He made the decision to join the Enclara team full time, in part because of all the support he had received throughout his journey. “I didn’t do this alone. My managers and coworkers gave me the encouragement, flexibility and confidence to get to where I am today,” Sayon said. “I couldn’t have done this without Enclara.”
Today, Sayon appreciates the opportunity to a make a difference in the lives of hospice patients. Earlier in his life, he helped care for an uncle with terminal cancer and that experience guides him today. “When I’m making recommendation, I always ask myself, if this was him, how would I honor his wishes,” Sayon said. “One thing about hospice is that the doctors and nurses trust the clinical pharmacist so much and depend on us for our recommendations. I take each individual patient case seriously and just try to give the best I can.”