Longtime Baystate Health Benefits director Joe Brzys, who retired in 2006, played an important role in his niece, Natalie Kowalczyk, pursuing a career in pharmacy.
“When my uncle learned of my interest in pharmacy, he suggested I explore some opportunities at Baystate. So, I started working at the inpatient pharmacy in 2007 as a pharmacy technician. As I gained experience, my interest in the field grew, and I was accepted into pharmacy school,” said Natalie.
The Baystate pharmacist, who works in the outpatient pharmacy on Daly 3, held the distinction of being a member of the inaugural class of Western New England University’s College of Pharmacy. Prior to her graduation in 2015, she received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL.
Baystate is where she wanted to be
“I was drawn to pharmacy during my undergraduate education. I knew that I wanted to work in the medical field. Helping people and making an impact on their lives was very appealing to me and pharmacy seemed like a perfect fit. I thought back to the many wonderful people I was introduced to and worked with at Baystate, and I knew that was where I wanted to start my career after graduation,” said Natalie.
Working as a hospital pharmacist, Natalie believes she can have a much larger impact on patient care.
“I am able to collaborate with other healthcare professionals to improve patient outcomes. We have an important role in helping to make a patient's discharge home easier and provide a continuity of care. We have access to many providers and sources of information that many other pharmacies don’t have, and it helps to make sure we are doing the right thing for each and every one of our patients,” said Natalie.
An active life
When she isn’t dispensing medications, Natalie enjoys going snowmobiling, boating, and living an active life.
“I enjoy taking my dog for runs and spending time with friends and family,” said Natalie.
While Natalie probably won’t be watching the Academy Awards because she says, “I’m not really into movies,” she believes this year’s winner for Best Movie should by “Finding Dory.”
Natalie is married to James Crean and they are fast approaching their one-year anniversary in May, after a destination wedding in Bermuda last year.
An amazing wedding
"It was amazing. We took a cruise out of New York City with about 30 people. A few people chose to fly to Bermuda, including my grandfather, who turned 90 the week before our wedding. It was small and we enjoyed being able to celebrate with our closest friends and family. We got engaged in Bermuda when I finished pharmacy school, so it was a special place for us," she said.
As far as work goes, Natalie is looking forward to learning more in the new year (“I learn something new every day,” she said.) and helping her department grow and expand their services to benefit more patients.
On the personal side, she is looking forward to traveling.
"My husband and I are going to explore Anguilla in the Caribbean for a delayed honeymoon, and I am hoping to go to Nova Scotia to visit family," Natalie said.